It’s easy to spot these people in the midst of the night; their appearance is like a fixture of the landscape. Books gripped hard under the arm, the solitary figure walking along the road seems like a simple cliché. The sky is overcast even in this time of night, lilac on mauve in the darker purples of the world.
He almost never reads from the books. To him they are his pillow, his rest in the night, when the stench of cigarette smoke wafts around his body the way his sweat hangs onto him in the humid weather.
There’s the car with the pretty pink-and-white bouquet tied to the bonnet on top of the BMW trident, and the pastel rose ribbons tied to the door handles and the boot, festively changing the mood of the sleek black metal. Passers-by grin knowingly at the couple’s intimacy and embarrassment, as the bride shyly tosses her own bouquet to the cheering crowd while being held tightly by his arm around her waist.
And when they get into the car they have smiles pasted so widely across their faces, the groom in his suit of black and white and the girl in her innocent white, she flushed with giggles and him, sighing, unloosening his tie as he winds up the window, giving himself some respite from the deafening cheers.
The door opens with a hydraulic hiss to the bus interior’s cold atmosphere. Yet there is the cheery greeting: “Good morning!” just like that, from the childish face of the bus captain. He is the one who makes the most noise in this bus of the early morning. No one minds this noise; they find it uplifting, often leaving with smiles.
What they don’t know is that this cheery face, this determinedly bubbly voice hides an interior of the utmost emptiness. With two dull eyes devoid of intelligence he looks at the road in front of him through the windshield; it is black, forbidding, unending, cyclical. The insipid glow of the headlights strike hard through the darkness only to fall, defeated, at the feet of the bus.
The door opens again with the clang of the aged mechanics and the customary hiss. The man behind the wheel says again, “Good morning!” just like that, almost automatically, and the passengers siphon the joy out of his heart.
The coffee cup leaves his lips, and he sighs satisfaction palpable as the brown-white swirls in the cup. The comfort he takes from this daily routine, sitting under the usual glass roof sipping his usual latte in the usual corner of the small café tucked out of corner in the depths of the small alley. In the exclusivity of these patterns rises his desire for life, a comfortable existence safely sheltered from prying eyes, and he treasures his solitude.
But there is the phone that rings occasionally, a spear thrust aggressively into his quiet, and he answers that nagging buzz with false manners betrayed by the hatred in his treatment of the phone. And as soon as the conversation is over, brusquely dealt with, he puts the phone down, picks up his cup, and leans back in his chair contented and carefully taking the next sip of the brown, brown liquid of the morning coffee.
Allowing their relationship to deteriorate, their interaction revolves around their coupling: frantic and brutish, conducted in the strangest of places. She pushes herself on him in the midst of their journey in the train, and he obliges. They have no trouble doing it. It is already a habit—each knows that when they arrange a meeting they’ll end up having sex.
She stiffens as he opens her again, pushing into her as they lean in the back of the carriage. They move slowly, pulsing with the rattling of the train on the tracks, and he feels her envelop him in a sensation not unfamiliar to his body; he embraces her in a twisted sort of protection, shielding her in the cocoon of their wanting.
The passengers never notice them. With experience born of repetition she has learnt to suppress her groaning like an energy into her fingers which she sticks into the back of his pants, grasping him into herself. But he crushes his mouth against her hair, kissing the top of her head and, with tears lying snugly in the corners of his eyes, never lets her notice that he has stripped his entire soul for their shared sacrilegious pleasure.