For 22 years, they rode the same bus. He was the man with the winter Fedora, the one who always dressed neatly, wore polished shoes and spoke with a nineteenth-century flourish. She was a bookkeeper; she appreciated tidiness. She also read romances, so she liked that he had a little flair.
They exchanged pleasantries and smiles. He knew that her name was Eloise and that she lived on King Street. His name was Abe; he came and went at the 20th Street stop.
On Fridays, they talked of their weekend plans. He liked to follow the tall ships and attend military tattoos. She liked museums and open-air concerts.
For a year and a half, he mentioned a wife. When he stopped mentioning, Eloise didn’t ask.
Last Friday night, Abe almost missed the bus home. He had to run to catch it, which made him breathe a little too hard as he passed by without noticing her. She thought she smelled a whiff of drink. He rode at the back, standing up. As he exited, he turned on the step and called out “Good-bye, old bus! Farewell, fellow commuters. I’ve retired today.”
She watched as he walked a little unsteadily down the sidewalk, the darkness closing in on both of them.