She staggered up the steps of the bus,out of breath. Her hair was out of place, her skin slightly flushed. She felt her way to the ticket machine and tried to punch a black ticket. The machine buzzed angrily and displayed an x sign. Oops, she realised. It’s past five, no more cheap fares.

She moved to one side, rummaged around in her bag, and finally managed to find the red ticket. Trying hard to keep her balance, she inserted the little piece of paper (How tiny! How easily misplaced! She had always disapproved.) into the ticket machine.

Ka chng. A satisfying crunching sound ensued. It had always reminded her of Sam crunching on his fruit loops.

After the bus had stopped twice more, she finally made it to a seat beside a spiky-haired dude bobbing his head to some punk-rock music, huge earphones extending out of the sides of his head.

The bus drove on. Three bus-stops, seven, and then ten. God knows how slowly it crawled. She started nodding off. Twenty stops. I glanced over in her direction again, and she was swaying side to side like a pendulum. She was dangerously close to falling off her seat.

She woke up every now and then, apologized profusely to rocker dude for leaning on his shoulder, and then began her pendulum act all over again.

I giggled. What a sight. Rocker dude caught my sight and gave me a knowing smile. He shrugged and continued bobbing his head to whatever music he was listening to. Well, I don’t even know if it was rock. It could have been Vivaldi.

Finally, end of the bus route. He tapped her gently on the shoulder, and she awoke with a huge jump, a startled look on a face that made her eyebrows disappear beneath her fringe.

She gathered up her belongings quickly, clearly embarrassed. Mumbling her apologies for the umpteenth time with nervous laughter, she hurried off the bus.

Rocker dude removed his earphones and laughed with her, unruffled. For the first time, I noticed what a charming air he exuded.