Tanya was a pretty, yet plain woman. The only thing that set her apart from the crowd was her hair — a fiery orange-red and naturally curly. She kept it long only because she had no other choice. If she cut it, she’d be sporting an afro, which would look odd atop her 5’7″, 140 pound, translucently pale and abundantly freckled frame. She wore simple, dark clothing and avoided patterns, figuring her hair was resplendent enough. Even her eyes seem to know better and kept themselves to a light gray most days.
She worked downtown as a legal secretary (not the kind you have an affair with, mind you). Her organizational skills and attention to detail were unmatched, and while others seem to come and go like the daily news, Tanya had held her position for nearly 15 years.
She was single, by choice, having not yet met a man equal to her expectations. Besides, she was shy and bookish and didn’t get out much.
As she boarded the early bus, she glanced quickly to the back hoping to find her usual seat empty. A creature of habit, she became nervous and agitated when things took a turn toward the unknown. Luckily, her place was available, and she skittered down the aisle. Few people took the bus this early. She intentionally chose this time and route precisely because of that.
Settling into the red vinyl-covered seat, she pulled out her book — a real-deal, hard-bound monster of a thing — and began to read.
She was so engrossed in her novel that the bus’s frequent stops and changing passengers remained a distant, ignorable non-event.
Tanya usually kept time by the sun. A certain slant of light across the page let her know her stop was near. Closing her book, and setting it in her lap, she noticed, for the first time, that a male passenger had taken the seat beside her. Tanya found this odd, since the majority of the seats around her were empty. The only other people on the bus were near the doors, prepared for a convenient and quick exit.
The man, in a grey suit and lavender striped tie, was thin and young. His face was distinguished and clean-shaven. Not a hair was out of place. His manicured hands set lightly on his thighs, and his posture was perfect – erect.
Tanya tried to size the man up with a sideways glance, attempting to avoid eye contact and the possible conversation it could cause. It wasn’t that she was anti-social, but she disliked strangers and hated introductions.
The bus squealed to a stop and let out it’s characteristic “shhhhh” as the doors opened to release her. She stood, dropping her book on the floor. The man bent so expeditiously that Tanya flinched upright to avoid the inevitable collision of heads or hands or some other part of her she was sure she didn’t want touched. He handed the book up to her with a simple, wordless smile.
“Thank you.” It came out as nearly a whisper, her voice still hoarse as she had not yet used it this morning. She cleared her throat and repeated the obligatory response to his civil action, “Thank you.” Her eyes squinted and her lips pursed into the semblance of a smile.
Heaving her brown leather bag onto her shoulder, she weaved her way toward the door. When she got there, she looked back to man. With two fingers to his forehead, he offered her a friendly salute. She nodded in acceptance and exited the bus, slightly annoyed that she’d bothered to glance back at all.
As she walked briskly along the heavily peopled city sidewalk, she looked down only long enough to slip her book back into her bag. She noticed, however, a slip of paper edging out from the top of the book, like a bookmark — something she never used because she always remembered exactly where she left off. Slowing her pace and moving to the edge of the sidewalk nearest the buildings to avoid the mad dash of bodies, she opened the book. It was a black and white, quite obviously professional, photo depicting a nude man reclined on a chaise lounge. Taken aback by the discovery, Tanya nearly dropped her book…and the picture. Instead, she slammed the book closed, the photo still inside, buried the book in her bag, flipped her hair out of her face, and continued on her way. Quite humanly, and involuntarily, however, Tanya felt a nearly-forgotten tingle in her thighs which made her cheeks color. It was a lovely pink blush that washed across her round, pale cheeks, and a very real sensation she hadn’t felt since Jared had gone.
She had a quite solid suspicion that the man in the photo was the man on the bus. She hadn’t looked long enough or closely enough to tell, and the man in the photo had his head turned into the shadows, making it difficult to be sure.
How very odd, she thought to herself, her brow furrowing and her face scrunching up in confusion.
When Tanya finally removed her coat and settled in to her deliciously comfortable and ridiculously expensive leather office chair, she slipped her hand into her bag, retrieving the photograph. Nervously, with the erratic movement of a bird, Tanya opened her top drawer and placed the photo inside, facing up. This gave her the ability to look at the photo and remove it from sight at the slightest noise without appearing too guilty about her actions.
The man was thin, but muscular, holding himself up on his left elbow and looking upward. The light, which appeared to be a ray of sunshine, spotlighted his body, leaving his face shielded by the dark. His body was turned toward the camera, his left leg flush with the chair and extended…his right leg bent, knee pointing up, his left forearm resting on top of it. Between his legs, impossible to ignore, was his erect penis, his testicles seated on his left thigh.
The photo was crisp, the blacks and whites and grays clearly delineated. It wasn’t taken by an amateur. And it didn’t look like the first time this man had posed.
Is it him? She wondered. And if it is, why? Why do I have it? Did he put it in my book? Why on earth would he do that? Even more strangely, If he didn’t put it there, who did? How did it get there?
(So, I’m just getting started here…is it something I should continue? I’m not married to it, but the characters intrigue me. I’m not even sure I know where this is going yet, and I know very little about the man. I could easily flesh this out – but I wonder, would anyone read it? Am I taking too much time with the set up? Not enough? The ideas are there…maybe more photographs?)