Tokida knows that Lucy regrets ever sitting next to him, that he must sound mad. Deranged. All the numbers finally got to him. That’s what she must be thinking. Isn’t it odd, Mr. Tokida thinks, that we’re forever putting our own thoughts into other people’s heads? Mrs. Burrows. Stood at the door. Discussing paid leave. Tokida had always dealt in absolutes. One plus one equals two. Death of a loved one: paid leave. How was Mrs. Burrows to know that in that instant, he wanted nothing absolute?
Wasn’t it fair for Mrs. Burrows to assume that he wanted to exist in that moment like he always had done?
Straight-talking, straight-thinking Mr. Tokida.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” says Lucy.
Tokida had forgotten she was there.
“What?” he says.
Lucy nods, seems to hold her baby closer to her chest, looks down the aisle. “This is my,” she smiles, “our, stop.”
Mr. Tokida watches her go. He doesn’t say goodbye. Lucy stops at the door of the bus. She doesn’t get off when the bus stops. The bus moves on, Tokida sitting, Lucy standing with her baby, the baby watching him, even now. The bus rumbles. On and on. Tokida watches Lucy not watching him: how dare she? Even though he’s got red eyes, a worn blazer, the accoutrements of a burned out teacher…carpal hands, tired shoes with flat soles that slip on the wet pavement if he ever has to rush anywhere…even though he’s a sad, broken man, what gives Lucy the right? The right to stand away from him? Stood there with a baby, who is still staring, staring at him, seeing right into him, staring.
Parkway Rd the announcer says.
Tokida stands up.
Lucy gives him a quick, frightened look.
Here comes crazy Tokida, lumbering down the aisle.
As he passes her he wants to touch the baby’s head. He wants to say to her, FUCK YOU, loud enough for the whole bus to hear.
“Goodbye,” he says, and moves past her, off the bus, careful not to make contact with her or her baby.
Sorry about the delay, been focused on some other writing. I’ve had this handwritten and complete since the day of writing the first prompt, just typing it up bit by bit.
There’s quite a lot of this story left, do you want me to release these in longer parts? If one person says yes, I’ll do it.