The buses were running late. Again.
The boy looked up from his phone, hoping to see the 35 Jane in view from the station. The weather had been all over the place in more recent Toronto days; it threw him off when he passed the turnstiles inside the station and saw a deep, dark blue colouring the sky despite the steady temperature of ten degrees. There was a crowd of people waiting to get onto this 35. He rocked on his heels, his hands in the pockets of his navy puffer vest, for what felt like an eternity.
The 35D turns into the station and the boy immediately decides to take the following bus. It was getting late, sure, but he knows he has a long ride ahead of him, and he wants to have a chance at grabbing a seat. There’s still a fairly large crowd when the following bus, the 35A, pulls in. He enters through the front, gives a small nod to the driver, and heads straight for the back of the bus. He picks the middle seat in a three-seater, keeping his Herschel duffel bag on his lap as to not disturb the girl beside him.
It was easy to tell from his smile that he thought she was pretty. She wore grey leggings and a red blouse, concealed mostly by a large plaid scarf that covered her entire upper body. Her dark hair was loosely pinned away from her olive-toned face. Her headphones matched her outfit, the cord connecting to an unseen device, and a gridded sketchpad sat on her lap, on top of a black laptop case, and a non-photo blue pencil in her hand. He watched her work away for several stops, flipping between pages on pages of larger grids encasing sketched designs.
The boy couldn’t stop smiling. He took his phone out from his pocket, angling it so it wasn’t obvious that he was taking a picture of her, her left hand, and her sketches. He slid his phone into her peripheral. Her eyes glanced away from her work—it was only for a second—but she took a second look before a small smile creeped onto her face and she moved an ear pad behind one ear. “Wow.”
“You’re really good at drawing,” he said. “What are you working on?”
The girl’s face seemed to light up in the mixed lighting of the bus. “It’s just a couple designs for a video game. I mean”—she flipped to a page she was working on only a few minutes earlier—“this one is. These are some of the background ideas. For the scenery, obviously.”
“What else do you do?” he asked, shifting his bag so that he could rest his elbows on it. The action also seemed to give her hand more room to sketch, which she did the a panel of another page.
“There are a few things.” She paused and rolled her eyes, but the smile never left her face. “I’m in graphic design, so I have to be able to draw a few things. It isn’t a problem for me, but it’s a lot of work.”
The two of them continued to talk about her sketches for a few more minutes before the boy’s attention was taken away by the ding of the STOP button. The boy looked up just as the bus slowed, its doors opening for other passengers to enter and exit. He stood up quickly. “Oh, this is my stop—but keep drawing, your art is amazing!”
“Thank you,” the girl half-called out, but the boy had already pushed through passengers, out the back door and walking towards his destination. It was another while before the girl got off the bus, but the entire time she was sketching, a smile remained on her lips.
This piece was originally written for a creative non-fiction class taken from September to December of 2015. It has been revamped since then.