Short Story: Reflection
I see your reflection upon the dirty bus window. You stare back at my reflection, and I can’t seem to take my eyes off of you. A raindrop rolls down the window and along your cheek like a tear.
I hastily turn my gaze to my folded hands on my lap, now realising that I have been staring too long. I can’t help but cautiously glance over at the window once more. You’re still staring at me. The rainy window makes your eyes look cloudy and stormy, so I assume your eyes must be grey.
My eyes flicker over your reflection. You sit back against your seat opposite from me and have your head resting against the window. Your hair is very dark and unruly as a few strands curl over your forehead. Your eyebrows are thick and sharp, and if I was actually facing you, they wouldn’t look as uneven as they do in your reflection. Your lips, however, are very symmetrical. I like the slight stubble to your chiselled chin and jaw – it makes you exude confidence. Your crooked tie and the undone buttons at the top of your shirt make me assume you must be coming back from work. You sitting at your desk in an extravagant office rushes to my mind. And then there are your eyes. Beautiful and captivating even upon a filthy window. If I had to describe your eyes with one word, it would be hypnotic. Even now they lull me towards you.
I quickly avert my gaze back to my folded hands. I can feel you staring at me. It makes my face heat up. I wish I had the confidence to actually look at you or even maintain eye contact with your reflection. My eyes widen at the sight of a hole in my tights right on my knee. God, I hope you don’t notice that. How humiliating. I attempt to subtly slide my hand over my knee to cover the tear in my tights. I slowly raise my head and rest my shoulder against the window.
You are still staring at my reflection. You aren’t even blinking. Your maintaining of eye contact is impeccable. I try not to blink too in an indirect blinking game and continue to stare at you the way you stare at me. A few seconds pass before my eyes sting, and I am forced to blink. You would definitely win in a blinking contest. I smile slightly; I think it comes off a bit awkward because you don’t smile back. I repress a cringe and lower my eyes to my shoes.
I sigh and muster up the courage to look at your reflection once more. You are still staring. I purse my lips. An eerie feeling crawls up my neck. Have you looked away at all? I stare back, wondering if you will think it is strange if I do not look away. I gaze at you until I begin to feel uncomfortable and cannot stare any further. I peer back down at my hands. Either you think you are being charming with the constant staring or you are trying to creep me out. If it is the latter, it is slowly working. I can still feel your intense gaze upon me. Even if you are looking at my reflection, it causes a shiver to trail down my spine, and this time the heat that flushes my cheeks is from discomfort. I shift in my seat, uncomfortably.
The bus stops and the two men sitting next to us get off. Now it is just us at the back of the bus. I hear more people step out. The bus is slowly emptying, and I fear it will only be the two of us. I still have another six stops until I get off. A woman slides on to the seat beside me. She shuffles around to get comfortable and in spite of her bag hitting my arm, I am relieved that there is now someone near me other than you.
“Hey mate, you alright?”
I glance over at the woman and see she is facing forward, talking to you. Her green eyes crinkle as her blonde brows furrow. I still haven’t rallied up the courage to directly look at you.
She leans forward and taps your shoulder. I still feel your eyes on me upon the window. The woman suddenly faces me, and I almost flinch back at her wide eyes. “Jesus, I think we need to call an ambulance.”
She lunges forward to help you. There’s commotion all around us. People on the phone, some yelling at the driver, others gathering over you.
I finally look at you.
You aren’t staring at the window anymore, but at your lap as your head drops from the lady shaking you. You are not looking at me. I stare at you. Your eyes are void, and you don’t move. Realisation dawns on me. You were not staring at me in the window, you were simply staring. You were not flirting with me with your eyes and later being a creep, you were unconscious with your eyes open.
The lady presses her fingers against your throat and then your wrist. “I don’t feel a pulse! Somebody tell the driver to stop!”
I can’t move.
I simply stare at you.
You were not staring at me then. You are not staring at me now. You are just being. Or not being if you really are dead. I cannot believe you may be dead. A possible dead person was staring at me, or my reflection to be accurate, and I thought it was flirting.
You could’ve possibly been dead all this time while you sat opposite from me and I would have never known. When your eyes first met the reflection of mine, you could’ve been seeking help and I didn’t understand. If it wasn’t for this lady, I would have continued thinking that you were being strange and later gotten off at my stop. If it wasn’t for this lady, no one would’ve taken notice of your immobile state as the bus slowly emptied, until the driver went to the last stop and would yell at you to get off. When you wouldn’t, he would come to check on you and then realise that you are perhaps dead.
And all because I thought you are attractive and paying attention to me.
A heavyweight hovers over my chest. I inhale a shaky breath. Pain flares upon my head. I stare at your immobile body.
A scream rips through the air and stops the bustling people. I feel someone touch my shoulder.
“Miss! Are you okay?”
“Hey, lady! Shut the hell up!”
“You shut up! Can’t you tell she’s freaking out?”
Judging gazes burn holes into my skin.
The screams continue.
I tear my eyes away from your dead face.
Everyone is staring at me. Their bodies merge and blur.
It is me screaming.
I cannot stop.
© photo from Unsplash
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