Bus Stop 126
A scruffy man in a brown toque sat at bus stop 126, waiting. From time to time, he looked at his watch, out across the empty intersection and up at the bus stop billboard. The woman in the ad captivated him. She wore a pink uniform and a pink cap. Her hair was golden and her smile sparkled under the streetlights. She was a woman he could never have, not in real life.
The buses came and went, and came and went again, and then were done for the night. But still the man waited beneath the gaze of the poster’s radiant blue eyes. It was almost time. He stood up in anticipation. 26 seconds to go.
At that moment, a small pick-up drove up alongside the bus stop. It was the only vehicle on the road at this time of night and the man at the bus stop seemed just a little apprehensive at its arrival. He sat down and looked at his watch again. 22 seconds. A sudden urgency swelled in his stomach
A city worker emerged from the pick-up with a flat-faced shovel and a rake. He gave the man a passing glance and began to scrape the cigarette butts off the ground and into the shovel. The man looked at his watch again – 18 seconds – and then he looked back up at the billboard. The woman no longer appeared to be smiling. Her face too began to look urgent, even frantic.
The sweeper looked up at the scruffy man, and his eyebrows crinkled. Picking up what appeared to be the last cigarette butt, he put his shovel back in the pick-up and climbed in. By this time, the man was standing with his eyes glued to his watch, and his hand braced against the plastic picture. Three seconds – the engine started, two seconds – the wheels began to roll, one second – his lips pressed against the cold plastic surface of the billboard.
Slowly, he staggered backward, wrenching his toque off his head. Clumsily, he dropped down to the wooden bench, staring at the poster for even the most imperceptible sign of movement.
“Am I too late?” he whispered.
There – he saw it. The slight flicker of an eyelash. She was alive. Gradually, the flicker became a full-fledged blink. He could see in the eyes of the woman before him a profound relief. Slowly, the emergence of life from that plastic medium began to migrate down to her cheeks. The rosy-red lips, which were parted into a smile, closed and then reopened with sound.
“You were almost too late,” she said as life moved further down her body to her neck.
“The sweeper was right here. I couldn’t.” The man spoke rapidly, without thinking, his heart pumping in his vocal chords.
“I can’t wait. You know that.” Her arms reached and flexed into the cool night air. “I was afraid you weren’t going to come,” she whispered.
The man tried desperately to hush her anxious fears, and his own as well. “You know I would never leave you. You are my only reality, my only dream for the future,” he explained hastily.
Her transformation was almost complete, her legs now having life, being changed from a plastic covered yellow ink to a smooth rich gold. “Hurry!” she said, waving her empty hand. “It’s almost done. You must kiss me.”
He stepped forward slowly. “You will come for me?” he asked as his lips drew closer.
“Of course I will, when it is time,” she said, reaching for him. Suddenly, he looked back. “My love!” she pleaded helplessly.
Then, reaching out, he turned to her again. “My love,” he responded, and his lips met hers in a kiss that seemed to last forever.
From across the street, the sound of a pick-up’s motor invaded the silence of the night. The vehicle did a slow U-turn across the solid yellow line and pulled up beside bus stop 126. The driver got out with obvious fatigue and looked at his watch. 1:26. He smirked at the coincidence and picked up his rake. He looked up at the handsome young man on the billboard and his eyebrows crinkled. He turned just in time to catch a fleeting glimpse of a woman in pink running down the street, her golden hair shining brightly in the moonlight.
He thought he heard laughter. But then again, it might have just been the wind.