“Mr. Gardner. Hi.” I played surprised. Even I didn’t convince myself.
“Call me Ric.” His smile had its final say on how I was to respond.
“Ric.” I hesitated at first, “I knew that bike looked familiar.”
I was unravelling before him and I couldn’t help it. It seemed as though I had no will in my body to not disclose self thought. I was beginning to like that in a cautious way.
“How rude of me.” He stood up and offered me a seat right beside him, “If you don’t mind at all.”
How could I mind at all? A gentleman, especially at this modern date, was rare and he acted as if it was second nature, “Thank you.”
“You’re familiar with my bike? Has it been seeing you?! I knew it. I hear it sneaking out of the house once in a while. I really wished I didn’t have to find out this way.”
I was at the edge of my seat when I almost laughed hysterically but was able to hold it back with a simple giggle. I put my head down to hide my embarrassment and my bangs completely covered my eyes as my sight darkened. We were both still laughing when he took a few strands of my hair and put it behind my ear. I gradually looked over my shoulder and just watched him try to fix it. His eyes were concentrated while his laugh started to simmer down. When he had finished, I looked down once again. I was amazed on how the hair had stayed.
There was silence but it wasn’t awkward. The train had ascended from the subway tunnel and raindrops began to cover the windows.
He attempted to say, “I’m sorry.”
But I quickly shook my head to assure him no harm was done. I tried to lighten the mood, “Do you like it?”
“I think I could be a part-time hairdresser.”
We both chuckled.
Silence once again.
“You know how people respond to rainy days like today?” He explained, “Their mood changes therefore it is gloomy and dull: like the weather. A lot of times people wear black or dark clothing when the sun doesn’t shine. You can barely distinguish one another. There’s no colour. No identity. No positivity.
“The class today was exactly like that but something different. During my lecture, at the corner of my eye, something stood out. Someone stood out. Yellow. I kept her at my sight the whole time. No matter where I was standing in the room, she was visible. She was someone. She kept me positive. She was beautiful.”
I realized who he was talking about. My heart dropped. I was speechless. Words left stranded in my throat. I regretted my earlier accusation, and although he doesn’t know it, I felt guilty. I tried to come up with a sentence but nothing. He didn’t seem to mind the non-responsive me. I took my time to figure out my next move.
We’ve eventually arrived at our destination. He nudged my shoulders with his as if it was an indication for me to ease up. I responded with a smile. I watched him take his place beside the bike and I took my place beside him. Brighouse station was just as deserted as Langara. We proceeded to the elevator while I looked around to see if anyone would join us. There was a part of me where I wished someone had for the silence to remain but we were finally alone.
“Thank you.” I faintly whispered. I thought he didn’t hear it at first but his reflection from the elevator doors showed him mouth, “You’re welcome.”
I exhaled deeply in my mind.
We reached the foot of the station where rain couldn’t touch us yet. Ric had leaned his bike on the glassed wall and faced me. He put my hood on as if he was now responsible for taking care of me. I tugged on his already closed coat just to give back the gesture. He smiled. I wanted to leave it at that: unspoken. But he had other things in his mind. Before he stepped on the soaked pavement, he turned around, eyes smiled, and set a date, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
He had managed, once again, to pedal off with me breathless. I was sure this time my heart had stopped.