She says,

"The girl I loved is dead. This is the death I have been readying for. When I bury what I was. Even the parts of me still choking on the dirt."

Samuel gets on the bus and mistakes the dark-haired woman for Eve. His heart snaps back against his ribs, and suddenly he understands why the last scene of The Graduate does not imply a happy ending. It is the difficulty of traveling without destination in mind.

He just keeps hearing this echo he can't make sense of. The words losing meaning in repetition. A boomerang of sound driving his blood away.

O - this stranger, she has that same quality Eve does of always looking like a beautiful woman, forever destined to send roses to herself. You can never tell if she's looking at you, or gazing into the dark street or looking into her own reflection in the window.

A quality of internal events, a quality of reading the world into a single action no one else sees. Like she breaks the world open with a blink and reads the fortune inside. Saves it, never shares the weight of it, just shifts it from hip to hip.

This bright, inarticulate wound that never closes. A woman who wishes for scars. For a ribbon of white skin to tie her insides down. She is overexposed. A wren who sees her eggs on the ground and still flies to the nest. Driven from the sky by Hope.

He takes a seat where he can watch the woman's reflection in the glass of the windows. Watches this little movie and yearns to hear the soundtrack, the music she is running under her thoughts. From across the aisle he can make out the tinny misgivings of her headphones. He aches for her melody, for more than just the downward strokes of the beat. Thinks that if he hears the whole song, he'll remember to listen to the lyrics this time.

He rubs his eyes, and still smells Eve on his hands. All of her parts. Not just her skin, not just her hair. All of her. Despite the soap and water. Samuel wonders how this could even be. Wonders at his inability not to wonder. Doubting still, even after having put his hand in the wound.

He thinks of a hundred things he never said to her. Words he never said, not because he thought there would be time to say them, but because he knew there wouldn't be. Words he's now sorry he wasted. Thinks maybe he threw away the key without meaning to. Wonders at the fact that having been inside her, he now understands her.

He wants to say,

"Eve, if you tell me what you need, I will give it to you. I will give it to you because I love you and you need it. I will give it to you whether or not I understand why it is needed. It will be enough that you know."

Samuel moves to the seat next to the woman he's been watching. He needs the feeling he had when he stepped onto the bus and thought she was Eve. When he thought Eve had found him. That she had somehow known where he would go and got there first. Was waiting to greet him.

He doesn't turn his head to meet the woman's profile. He just settles in. Samuel feels her lean into him. He finds the feeling he needs and decides that he'll ride this bus to the end of the line. He'll ride and ride, wherever this dark-haired woman is going. No matter how far from home.

He counts to twenty, breathing down the numbers. He counts to twenty again and lets his head down onto her shoulder as slowly as he's able to. Doesn't want to spook her, but runs the risk of it. Decides that burning this feeling into his skin, is worth it. He closes his eyes and they ride through the morning dark, pushing towards downtown.

The dark-haired woman pulls the call cord on the bus. She does it very slowly, without jarring the shoulder where Samuel rests his head. She finds she can't reach down for her purse without dislodging him. Knows he isn't sleeping, but somehow still can't bear to wake him.

When the bus stops, no one gets off. It continues through the dark, and down the slope of the city. The woman watches her face in the window, as she tilts her head onto his. Watches her eyes for as long as she can see her reflection. Watches, until it's just easier to close them.

* * * * *

"You gotta have some faith when you give up ground. Lose the fight still toast the day. I'm left with pillow talk. All I hear is whispering and heavy hearts. Hanging round you beat the seasons. You can't keep up. But they can't keep you down. I'm just happy you stuck around. I'm just happy you stuck around. We're all together now. Become one anything one time. All of our learned things are like Angel wings."

Become One Anything One Time - The Promise Ring

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