It was dark and cold and raining.
The two strangers waiting at the bus stop knew that they were in for the long haul. The bus was never on time so the weather only made the delay longer. One of them sat down on the broken bench and dug through her bag, searching for something with fervor. The other one kept standing, watching the drops of rain on the window. They race against each other, in his mind.
The silence was uncomfortable,
He reached into his pocket and pulled one out. Thin and white with cancerous smoke inside. He pressed it between his dry lips and lit one end with the red lighter his father had given to him. He may not have had a backpack or a ride home, but he did have this.
The slow drag and puff of smoke caught the woman’s attention. Her hand was still inside the bag when she looked over at him. Specifically, at his lips and the novelty he held against them.
She didn’t have to elaborate what she was asking. He nodded, taking it out of his mouth and passing it to her. At one point in her life, she would have rather died than shared something with a stranger. But unlike a cigarette, a bottle of water was less addicting. A bottle of water didn’t cure the shaking in her hands or the pounding in her head.
She took a drag and sighed out the smoke into the tense air of the bus stop. He watched her.
The waltz began. The music replaced the thumps of the rainstorm. Two hands moved back and forth, passing the white baton seamlessly without losing a single puff of precious carbon. Less words were spoken and more saliva was exchanged between the two strangers.
Back and forth, back and forth, till the baton looked more like a stump. He stopped the dance and dropped in on the ground, stomping it with the top of his shoe. The music stopped and the silence returned. The bus was running 30 minutes late