by Ben van Dorsselaer
The bus smelled like B.O. and he was the kind of tired that is conceived in the brain and spreads to the extremities in a pulsating fashion. It was the kind of tired that eventually engulfed the host and laid waste to the remaining life-force. His defences had abandoned ship and left the shell of his presence to endure the increasingly offensive odour emanating from one of the five other passengers making the voyage home. He gave a half-hearted wave of thanks to the driver as he disembarked and ventured across the road toward the house.
Up the stairs and through the threshold, he was the kind of lonely that develops slowly and with considered intent. It was the kind of lonely induced by a dangerous cocktail of uninteresting conversation, sexual frustration and too much time spent listening to Wilco. As he smoked a joint and lay on his bed, primitive feeling was partially restored in the form of hunger.
He had fallen in, what he believed to be, love twice already that day and had taken no action in either case. Both, the kind of girls with long, unassuming hair and small, pointed noses that perfectly matched their small, pointed jawlines. Both the kind of girls that would make your Dad long for his youth and that your Mum would, almost aggressively, adopt as her own. Even after brief and comfortable eye contact, not a move was made as his heart pounded and his mind screamed and his body froze in a chronic and debilitating episode of indecision. And then it was over and they had left and he returned, exhausted, to his book.
And these kinds of tired and these kinds of lonely and these kinds of girls take their toll. He wanted to dissolve, to melt away unnoticed and without ceremony, but he knew he wouldn’t. Another day perhaps, but for now he would rise from the understanding cushion of his double bed and continue on.
And as he prepared food in the small and familiar kitchen, he thought about his day and the girls and knew, realistically, there would be more of both and he was the kind of okay that promised temporary relief. The kind of okay that would carry him through the night, to another day and the promise of other girls. The kind of okay that facilitated the realisation that lonely would pass and that, maybe one day, the bus ride home wouldn’t smell so bad.