When I first saw her she was singing to herself. It was a lovely little tune and I thought, “well, she’s a chipper one!” then turned back to examining the tram map under the shelter of the bus stop. It had just started raining and the trams were stopped, and stacked, along the tracks for as far as I could see. Traffic was miserable and the bus was already late. I had an hour and a half to make the twenty minute trip to my next class and it wasn’t looking good.
The bus eventually arrived and we packed in like the miserable sardines we were. The trip to the metro was supposed to take five minutes but I spent forty-five in that packed coffin. About halfway through I gave up on standing and found a seat which happened to be across from that chipper women, a typical middle-aged Czech women. “How nice,” I thought. Then she licked her palm.
What? That didn’t happen, I wasn’t paying attention. But now I was, and I had a long way to go sitting across from her on bus that was getting stuffier by the minute, and beginning to smell of Fritos. At first, she was just muttering to herself, quietly. Then, risking a quick glance, I noticed that she had what appeared to be ketchup smeared across the right side of her face.
The muttering would occasionally slow down as she started examining her wrist. It would absorb all her attention, as though she couldn’t decipher the roman numerals on a invisible watch. Then suddenly she’d bang her wrist up to her face and lick that invisible watch, then wipe her wrist along the right side of her face and go back to muttering. After a while a disgustingly wet lip smacking sound started to accompany the mutters. The heat and corn-chip stench started to grow and my stomach started trying to turn over, like a car with a dead battery, only I was praying that the engine wouldn‘t catch.
When we finally reached the metro (the delay was caused by an accident in the only tunnel under the rail tracks for a mile) I leaped off the bus into the fresh Spring air, wondering where these people come from and why I need to share them.