Sho sits down heavily in the bus, his bag full of books on his lap, and leans back against the seat with a sigh, burying his nose into his wooly red scarf. He looks outside but it is dark already so there is nothing to see but blurry lights and the fog resting on the inside of the window. Sho lets his finger trace a shape against the cool surface for a few seconds but quickly decides to bury his hands deep inside the warm pockets of his coat.
He is already dozing off when a hand snakes right past his head and starts writing on the window pane next to his doodle. He nearly falls off the seat, head first, but manages to catch himself on time.
why are you crying?
Sho frowns and wants to turn around but the hand is back and knocks once against the window. He doesn’t like talking with strangers and would rather get back to his nap but he has always been polite enough to chat with the old ladies who start a conversation about the weather and how rare it is to find young people giving up their seats nowadays.
Also, maybe it would help him stay awake and prevent him from missing his stop, again.
I am not crying, he writes back.
The hand doesn’t take long to come back and Sho tries to remember the last time he has ever communicated through a window and its fog but the closest memory that comes to mind is the passing of notes in class while the teacher had his back turned. Nowadays, students probably communicate via mobile phone, he wonders.
The hand has drawn an arrow pointing to his doodle with a why?
Sho looks back at his doodle, yes, and it might look like a sad little face but that doesn’t mean that he has drawn himself or anything so he points back at his earlier I am not crying.
maybe you should
Sho scowls. He doesn’t even know why he is conversing with a shy stranger— well, he hopes it’s because of shyness that they are talking through a window and not because it’s a creepy murderer who wants to remain anonymous and will attack him when he exits the bus though that seems highly improbable and the hand is rather small, not at all like a murderer’s, not that he would know but anyway that’s not the point. This shy stranger doesn’t know him and Sho is not going to take his condescending advice like that.
i’m fine + i can draw :-( if i want.
There is only space left for one answer and the stranger’s hand brushes against his when Sho quickly withdraws his hand. It sends shivers down his back and Sho blows on the tip of his fingers, figuring that it’s because of the coldness of the window as opposed to the warmness of the hand that makes him shudder.
people normally draw :-) or names or ♥
Sho taps his feet against the floor, trying to rein in his irritation. What does this person knows about normality anyway; he or she or whatever is the weird one for conversing via scribbles in the fog. He ends up drawing a big smiling face all over their writing and quickly turns around, nearly making his bag fall.
The young man looks at him with a small smile and shrugs. He seems a bit younger than Sho and Sho can’t help notice the unusual nose and the two moles, one on his cheek and the other on his chin. The stranger tilts his head, an inquisitive look directed at Sho, and Sho realizes that he has been staring so he whips around and stares firmly in front of him.
They can’t write anymore anyway. Well, that’s it then. It lasts a few minutes before Sho shifts in his seat. He rubs a hand tiredly over his face; he doesn’t like talking to strangers on the bus but he likes even less unfinished conversations.
‘Why do you care if I smile or cry?’ Sho asks, without turning around. There’s no answer and that ticks him off even more. Why start something you are not going to finish?
This time he turns around and stares straight at him: ‘are you deaf or is that you can’t answer if it’s not on a window?’
The stranger smiles, and it’s slightly self-depreciating, before shrugging again.
Sho throws him an annoyed look. He takes a pencil and notebook out of his bag, opens it at a random blank page and writes why do you care if I smile or cry? and hands them to the stranger.
Sho catches the look of surprise on the stranger’s face but it only lasts a few seconds before he takes the pencil and notebook and scribbles on it. He is resting the notebook on the back of Sho’s seat so Sho can’t see what he writes until he hands it back to him.
because i saw you cry at the library
Sho looks back, wide-eyed, and quickly writes back.
Are you a stalker?
The stranger looks too amused and Sho frowns again.
no, we just go to the same library and sometimes take the same bus back
Are you lying? I’ve never seen you before.
that’s because you always have your head in a book
Then what was I reading?
something about economics and business, Sakurai Sho
Sho nearly drops the notebook.
How do you know my name?
The stranger points at the notebook’s cover, a smirk on his face, where his name is spelled in careful handwriting. Sho groans and tries to snatch his notebook back but the stranger is quicker as he bends down to write. Finally, he hands it back to Sho.
my name is Ninomiya Kazunari but you can call me Nino if you want. why were you crying?
Sho mutters the name a few times but it doesn’t ring any bell.
I had something in my eye. Why can’t you talk?
Sho sees Nino hesitate. He looks up from the notebook after a few seconds to, seemingly, scrutinize him. Sho shifts but tries his hardest not to look away. He had something in his eye after all. He nearly sighs when Nino looks down again to write.
i‘ll tell you when you tell me the truth
Sho is annoyed but quickly figures it’s fair.
I don’t know. And it’s the truth, he thinks with a sigh.
Nino looks up, surprised, but Sho is even more surprised when Nino only nods at him before he writes. Having something in his eyes was much more believable though.
i can’t hear.
Sho reads it again and suddenly feels ashamed for his earlier words that he had sneered –Are you deaf?– though he knows now Nino probably didn’t hear them.
Nino seems to read his troubled look because he takes back the notebook.
you don’t need to answer that. there’s no good answers, i’ve heard them all.
Nino looks away, his smile is gone, when Sho reaches for the notebook. Sho suddenly feels sadder than he was at the library and he still isn’t sure of the reason. He writes on the corner of a new page before he tears it and hands it to Nino.
Sakurai Sho: 81-80-3241-3552
Nino’s smile is cute, Sho thinks.
He is waving goodbye at Nino from the window and his phone vibrates in his pocket but he watches him until Nino disappears in the dark.
Sho takes out of his phone and opens the new message.
Let’s take the bus again.
Sho smiles, even though the books are still heavy on his lap and he is probably going to fall asleep past his stop again.
He hesitates for a few seconds and adds: :-)