Natural blonde fibres drape her shoulders, drops of morning mist sparkling from each of them. Falcon blue eyes play an unearthly radiance over everything they pass over. Rich puckered lips smile a greeting as I approach. I nod a reply greeting just as silently. Words are never needed between us. Around her neck hangs a string of small white pearls, the lowest point of them brushes the collar of her knitted navy company cardigan. A narrow white belt defines a tightly nipped waist, below which a heavy navy skirt falls like a cliff-face to bone-like calves.

08:30, I call her Cesium because I could set my watch by her. I don't know her real name, it could be Sandra or Christine or Margaret or Judy or Annette or Joanna or maybe something plain and uninteresting, we have never spoken. She withdraws an iPhone from the black leather bag no bigger than a purse dangling from her shoulder, and its hot pink silicone boot strikes a ray of colour into her outfit. I hear DTMF tones that years ago I could have decoded on the fly with the unaided ear, and she places the device to her right ear. A diamond on her ring finger glistens as she does so. Why she holds the phone to her right ear with her left hand I do not know.

"Darling," There is a pause. I hear only one end of the conversation, the same one I hear every weekday morning. "How was work?" Her husband works nights in a factory up North, I wonder over and over again what it must be like for him to get home at 2 every morning and see his precious one asleep then have her gone when he awakes. I wonder too what it must be like for her to go to sleep at night without him, knowing he won't be home for several hours. Knowing? Trusting, I guess. "Everything okay?" I wonder if he'd tell her if it weren't without her asking. "I left the steak out for tonight." He must cook her meals rather than the other way around like most families would do it. That'd be great to cook for your lady. "Thanks." What was she thankful for? I shrug, I'm glad she's got something to be thankful for. "Anything you need me to pick up on the way home from work?" Pause. "I'll see you tonight then. I love you." Her last sentence wasn't said as a formality, but rather as a heartfelt statement. She hangs up and returns the phone to her bag. The bus pulls in a moment later.

I remember when Eliot used to catch the bus with me before he got married and changed jobs.

I haven't spoken to Eliot in nearly a year, I should give him and his wife a Christmas card, though handing it to her would be somewhat creepy and stalkerish.

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