Beep. The sound roused him from the half-asleep state he was in, and he opened his eyes, realizing that he had dozed off again. He immediately sat up, peered blearily out of the bus and breathed a sigh of relief.
I have to stop dozing off like this or I will really miss my stop one day.
Beep. Beep. Beep. He looked back into the bus. It had stopped at a very busy and crowded bus-stop, and passengers were dutifully tapping their stored-value cards (or the wallets and purses containing the cards) against the card-readers as they alighted or boarded the bus. The window seat which was directly facing him was empty (having just been vacated by a man looking like a corporate type, who had been reading some article or an e-book on his tablet). He had found himself with the familiar feeling of envy which always well up whenever he spied someone reading on the bus. He liked to read, but could never get past a couple of pages on a moving vehicle without feeling nauseous. As a consequence, he ended up dozing off more often than not on these long bus trips home from school. He had been lucky so far in that he always managed to wake up in time to alight.
The alighting passengers were gone and the newly boarded were walking down the aisle replacing them, filling up the empty seats. He turned his gaze out of the window again, noting that the traffic seemed heavier than usual, probably due to the heavy rain that had fallen earlier. Even now he could see that it was still drizzling. The windows were slightly misted over, and in the pale light of the setting sun it gave the world outside a somewhat unreal and melancholic quality.
He was suddenly aware of a shadow in front of him, and saw out of the corner of his eye that the empty seat had been taken. He instinctively turned his head and his eyes lighted on a slim girl who looked about the same age as him, early twenties-ish, in a plain navy blue dress that reached all the way to her ankles. As he looked (trying not to stare), she rummaged in the handbag in her lap with one hand while the other held a wet folded umbrella. Both the handbag and the umbrella were in the exact same shade as her dress. He suddenly knew without a doubt that if he were to look down at her shoes, he would see that they were blue as well. She was looking down into the bag, and the long black hair framing her face fell forward and obscured her features.
Finally she found what she was looking for, pulling out a crumpled plastic bag, and proceeded to open it up, deposit her wet umbrella into it and finish off by tying up the opening. During this series of movements, he managed to get a good look at her face. It was rather unremarkable. It was not unpretty, but was totally bereft of the stuff that girls routinely put on their faces these days. No lipstick, blusher, eyeshadow (or at least none that was obvious. He knew cosmetics nowadays were supposed to be unobtrusive, making one’s face look good without shouting their presence), or those fake eyelashes that some of his female classmates are so fond of. Her eyes were half-crescents and the edges of her lips were upturned, giving the impression that she was smiling at a private joke unheard by anyone but her. Altogether, it was a rather pleasant face to look at, and he was just reaching that conclusion when she looked up and he found himself looking into her eyes. He hastily broke off the eye contact and looked out of the window again.
Oops got caught checking her out.
The scenery outside told him he still had about fifteen minutes to his stop. He forced himself to keep his eyes on the view outside and not return to the girl (he decided to nickname her Miss Blue for obvious reasons) for the time being, sure that she knew he was checking her out.
“Ah-choo!” A sneeze sounded in front of him. It was followed by three more in rapid succession.
“Ah-choo ah-choo ah-choo!” Miss Blue was trying to sneeze as quietly as she could, and out of his peripheral vision, he could see she was rummaging in her handbag again, no doubt looking for a packet of tissue paper.
“Sorry excuse me, do you have tissue paper?” Her voice was strangely light and melodious, and as he looked back at her, she gave a sniffle which wrinkled up her nose in a decidedly cute manner. She was looking at him expectantly, and he realized with a start that the question was directed to him.
“Whaa...? Umm sure.”
He could feel the beginning of a blush coming on and hurriedly dug into his jeans pocket for the packet of tissue paper and held it out to her. As she reached out to take the packet from his hand, he saw that her fingernails were painted a deep metallic blue. The paint seemed to be the only concession she allowed to enhance her looks. No rings on her fingers, no necklace, bracelets or watch. No hair accessories either.
“Thanks, I can never find anything I want in this bag of mine.” Miss Blue’s face split into a sheepish smile as she took the tissue paper from him.
“Kind of like Doraemon’s pocket huh?” He blurted out without thinking.
What?! What kind of line is that?!
Her smile widened, showing a row of even white teeth. “Except with Doraemon, he can always pull out what he wants right?”
Right. He groaned inwardly.
Aloud, he said, “Ya I guess so.” It was his turn to smile sheepishly. Miss Blue pulled out a piece of tissue paper and proceeded to wipe her nose with it, blowing it once for good measure and crumpled it up. She held out the packet.
“Nah you can have it.” Trying not to look into her eyes.
“Oh, thanks then!” She smiled again, gave the packet a little wave and carefully put the packet into her handbag. Then she paused and looked back at him.
“Anyway, I did get what you meant.”
“What you meant with the Doraemon statement.” She explained patiently. “You meant my handbag is like a bottomless pit just like his pocket right?”
“Ohh! Ya, that’s what I meant.”
Come on! You can do better than that!
Then, Why am I getting so flustered anyway? She’s just being friendly because I responded to her request instead of giving her the cold shoulder like what people are apt to do nowadays.
Miss Blue was now regarding him with interest.
“So you like Doraemon huh?”
“Yup, he’s one of my favourite cartoon characters actually..”
“Mine too!” She opened her handbag for the third time and took out her handphone (no rummaging this time). It was encased in a dark blue handphone case, and true enough, Doraemon was on the cover, a big grin on his face, holding one round hand up. It looked a little too kiddish to him. But of course he didn’t tell her that.
“Nice,” That was all he could think of saying.
“Right.. I had a hard time finding this,” She grinned happily, suggesting that she thought it was a major triumph on her part.
“Good for you then.” He couldn’t help smiling at the childlike happiness she was radiating.
“Oh excuse me,” Miss Blue opened her handphone cover and looked at the screen, frowning a little as she did so. Then she started tapping on the screen, probably replying a message, and he looked out the window again.
One more stop. I wonder where she will drop at.
Miss Blue stopped her tapping and closed the cover, looking out of the window and gave a little yelp. The bus had stopped at a bus stop and the last of the alighting passengers was stepping off the bus.
“Oh this is my stop!” She jumped up, slinging her handbag on her right shoulder, and favoured him with that smile of hers. “Thanks again!” He followed her with his eyes as she alighted from the bus until his view became blocked by the other passengers. Then he turned back and realized there was something on the seat Miss Blue was sitting in. It was a packet of tissue paper.
He held up the packet in his right hand as he sat at his desk in his room. It was blue in colour (exact same shade as her dress again, he noted), with no other marks on it. None of the usual cute cartoon illustrations, or the brand of the manufacturer. In fact, it was as plain as Miss Blue’s face or her style of dressing, he reflected.
He had picked it up from the seat before the next passenger came to take the seat, and quickly stowed it in his bag as his stop was the next one. He only got to examine it more closely upon reaching home. He guessed Miss Blue probably had it in a pocket of her dress all the time and forgot about it, and it fell out of the pocket onto the seat as she got up to alight. That was why she couldn’t find it in her handbag.
Hmm she’s an odd one in any case. What’s with all the blue anyway? I mean, sure, it could be her favourite colour; it’s my favourite colour too, but everything in blue is a bit too weird even for me. All the exact same shade some more. Apparently no one taught her about colour coordination. He smiled at the thought.
Maybe it’s because it’s Monday today and she’s having the blues. I wonder if she does that with a different colour every day of the week.
Does she live around this area? She got off the bus two stops before me, so should be quite near right? Maybe we’ll see each other in the neighbourhood again.
He gave himself a mental slap on the head, Nah you are thinking too much. You probably won’t see her ever again. Anyway, who cares? She’s just some random girl you saw on a bus.
“Boy ah! Dinner!” His mom’s voice issued from the kitchen, breaking his thoughts at that moment.
He threw the packet of tissue paper back on his desk and hurried out to the dining table. He was famished. As he closed the door of his room behind him, it suddenly struck him that Doraemon was blue too.