I followed him onto the coach, staying close while trying not to intrude. Just as I’d kept a safe distance while he waited for the bus to pull up. I wanted to go where he went, but I tried not to spook him in the process. He seemed tense and distracted.
I contemplated taking the seat next to him before rejecting the idea as too stalkerish and slipped into the seat across the aisle from his. Would he have noticed if I’d sat down next to him? As I looked at him I couldn’t escape the feeling he’d closed himself off from his surroundings, choosing to concentrate on the world outside instead.
I wondered about what might be going on in his head. What were his thoughts? Why did he hug himself like that? The way he’d turned his body towards the window suggested he wouldn’t welcome interaction from anyone.
To have him so close and yet so far away ate at me. He’d been my world—my everything—for the past ten months. My last thought before I fell asleep was for him and the first image in my head after waking up in the morning was always his. Apart from one confused glance while we waited at the bus stop, he hadn’t acknowledged me.
I might as well not be here. The thought screamed in my head
When he rubbed his eyes before sniffling loudly my heart skipped a beat. Something was wrong. I had to do something. Suddenly keeping my distance, being smart and inconspicuous didn’t matter anymore. Fuck the consequences. I got up, crossed the aisle and set down next to him. I only hesitated for a few moments before lightly gripping his upper arm and squeezing.
“What’s wrong?” I held my breath as soon as the words left my mouth. What would he do?
He turned to me with an apologetic smile on his face, his eyes red-rimmed and glassy. A cold sweat erupted across my brow. I’d been right. Something was seriously wrong.
“I’m so…” He sneezed loudly, caught his breath and sneezed again. After the fourth time I stopped counting and settled back to wait him out.
“I’m really sorry,” he picked up my hand and squeezed it. “I always turn into a solitary bastard just before my hay fever kicks off.” He tilted his head, “Forgive me?”
More flash fiction based on the same image can be found in the Monday Flash Fics group on Facebook.