0-40 in 1.5 blocks abruptly followed by squealing breaks – to avoid passing the next stop and the poor dripping souls waiting in triple digit heat, of course. No sooner had they boarded than the driver floored the accelerator and we violently lurched in the opposite direction.
An orange rolled past my toes, a hairbrush jettisoned from my neighbor’s purse, and the student standing in the aisle who thought he had it sussed with one had on the rail and the other tightly gripping the overhead strap almost hit his knees on the floor; the only safe rider was in a wheelchair – strapped down and locked into the handicapped space.
But she seemed oblivious. iPhone on her lap, ear buds in, she tapped her sneaker-clad feet in time with the music, popped her gum, and read a paperback; her hair pulled into knot, a loose T-shirt dropping off one shoulder, running shorts and light pink tights. Too clean to be homeless and too far off the school route. I watched her for a long time, captivated. Despite the gum popping and battered backpack, there was an aura of elegance, a gracefulness about her. Three stops later she noticed a hole in her tights and began rummaging through her pack. Out came a hoodie, a tiny mid-drift top, a pair of pointe shoes and a tiny sewing kit.
I was in awe and nonplussed. The ballerina was not only able to thread the needle on her first attempt but she was sewing the hole in her tights WHILE wearing them. We jerked, swayed, and lurched; like members of an interpretive flash mob, but the ballerina remained composed and perfectly poised through it all, through every stitch on her leg.
The end of the line for me; I got up awkwardly, clumsily shuffled between fellow riders to collect my gear and exit – I stopped in my tracks when I reached the ballerina (now absorbed in the task of returning her life to her pack), unable to move as my little grey cells attempted to process a sound I hadn’t expected and at that moment had great difficulty fathoming. My brain named the sound and its creator simultaneously – the ballerina! From deep within, loudly and with open lips, she had belched.
She took no notice of her faux pas, no notice of me now toe-to-toe with her, or any of us who’d been so fixated on her.