The bus stops in front of him and the pneumatic door hisses open. Is this the 85? he asks. Going downtown?
Sure is, answers the driver.
The bus is almost full. Even the near silence of sleepy morning commuters can’t disguise it. All those bodies displace the lightness, the thinness of the air. His footsteps don’t reverberate as cleanly on the floor as he find his seat in one of the front sideways-facing rows.
He counts the minutes, the number of stops.
And here she is, alighting at Bronson and Gladstone, fresh from her yoga class. He can smell the thin coating of sweat from her body and the tart rubber from her rolled up mat.
Her name is Rosalie, but he’s too shy to say it out loud, though it repeats itself in his mind endlessly. Rosalie Rosalie Rosa—
Off to work?
Where else? Another day, another dollar.
Is that all they’re paying you, she laughs. Her voice is like birdsong and lilacs. He laughs too and it burns in his throat.
How was class?
Sometimes he imagines sticking out his cane to trip her up when she leaves just to have an excuse to catch her. He imagines the feel of her bare arms in his hands, how they would flex and slacken. He hopes she would feel the same way he does. A mixture of elation and stomach ache.
Great. I have twice the number of students than I did last year. Everyone wants to squeeze in a session before work. Are you sure I can’t persuade you to sign up?
He did take yoga, years ago, when it was offered as part of an outreach program at the centre. He remembers the instructor’s slow measured voice describing each position, the strong hands molding his arms and legs, straightening his back. He breathed so deeply during those sessions he became lightheaded. He is lightheaded now.
I’m pretty busy these days. Some other time?
Of course, she says and he can hear the smile in her voice.
He has no idea what she looks like, whether her skin is light or dark. He has no idea if she has a boyfriend or even a husband. She could have ten kids and a mortgage. While he has a dark one-bedroom apartment on Waverley that smells of other people’s cooking.
But after counting up all he lacks and all that he imagines her to have, he realizes he has this one thing: tomorrow he will see her again.
He turns his face to the sun, feeling its warmth. The first real day of spring.