He must have been starting at the computer screen for a long time. So long actually that I didn’t even realize that he had the computer on his knees again until he swung his legs up onto the seat next to him, positioned the laptop into as comfortable a space as it was going to get, and then his fingers hit the keys and never left them for the next hour.
“Hey, kitten,” he typed.
As absorbed as he was in the task at hand, he was still sensitive to the world outside the screen, and when he looked up I knew it wasn’t only to look into space and put the words in the right order, but also to give me a subtle warning “This is private”.
As disappointed as I was with the prospect of letting such interesting correspondence escape me, I couldn’t really complain. Reading over someone else’s shoulder is a mild enough sin to be guilty of when you are traveling a few stops on the subway, but when you are seated behind someone on an 8-hour Megabus trip, it could grow from a venial sin to one of enormous proportions and annoyance. So I bemoaned the fact that it was only after I had read his mild and substantive correspondence with his thesis advisor and a number of exchanges with colleagues that he had decided to cut off my main source of entertainment on the journey.
I actually didn’t really feel I had the right to bemoan anything, given I had booked my bus trip the night before, and had paid for it the overwhelming price of … guess how much? You would never, because if you’re like most people, you will say a single or double digit. But the price was not in dollars… Thanks to typing in a promo code, all I paid for the 8-hour bus trip, complete with wireless access and 2 seats per person, was 50 cents. Otherwise, I would have had to shell out all of $3.50.
But what was happening on the screen in front of me was much more thrilling than the crime novel I had chosen for the journey, based more on its thickness than any other redeeming qualities, so after a few more minutes…
“I’ve been thinking about a lot about things,” I saw the next time the screen shifted conveniently into the crack between the seats in front of me.
“Poor girl,”I thought. “After that greeting line, she would not be prepared for what is coming. Is he seriously going to break up with her over email?”
His fingers picked up pace as his thoughts spilled out. Suddenly, he would pause to shift his gum from one side of his mouth to the other and he would remember he should chew it. Or he would scratch a noble-enough nose and stare ahead of him, searching in his mental thesaurus for the softer words, and then the thoughts would crescendo again and he would tap away energetically and I thought he must have written the longest Dear Jane letter ever until I realized most of the time it was his pinky pounding the backspace.
But the backspace did not erase his central message. I don’t even know if it softened it.
“I don’t think living with you is an option any longer.”
Poor, poor kitten. It’s bad enough to have a boyfriend break up with you. The pain only be doubled if a boyfriend breaks up with you by email. The pain can only be tripled if a live-in boyfriend breaks up with you by email. And I don’t want to imagine what it feels like when the live-in boyfriend takes the first moment he is traveling away from you to take advantage of Megabus wireless to tell you he doesn’t want to live with you and doesn’t want to love you.
Megabus is a reliable intercity bus provider, with cheap deals, comfortable seats, and many amenities, including wireless internet access. The bus never broke down on our journey through the countryside -burgs of Pennsylvania.
But a young man told a young girl he didn’t want to be with her anymore, and that soon all his possessions and his presence would be gone from her forever.
Buses break down, people break up.
I actually would have preferred the first.