They had nothing to say to each other so she turned slightly away from him. He was not even supposed to be there but, when the cost of doing business in his own world became too high, he found himself in sunny Florida.
She would rather not have shared this cab but the city was bright with traffic and she wanted to be home sooner than later. Comfort in the long term would have to make up for the awkward 30 minute ride with a stranger.
As the car made its way through the throngs and chaos of the bustling holiday weekend crowd, there was much to distract the passengers who politely watched outside of their respective windows. The sounds were hard to ignore and, had they even a casual acquaintance, they would have commented on the boisterous drunks or shrieking sorority girls accompanying them. There, in the warm beachy breeze, was a world of living.
Inside the cab, she set the tone. She just wanted to be done with this day and all it had entailed. The frustrations, the fears, the verges of tears. She was in a bit of a shock, maybe, because anyone else might have come undone in her present circumstances. Today was ending but tomorrow was shaping up to be equally as hopeless. Tonight, she just needed to hunker down and try her best to regroup. The last thing on her mind was to have to interact with a stranger. Even polite small talk was out of the question.
He, on the other hand, had a winning day. Things were looking up and pieces he never dreamed were falling into place alongside his dreams. Everyone was loving him, except for the other occupant of this city cab. This was puzzling to him as it had been her idea to share when she learned they were headed in the same direction. Now she was aloof and seemed irritated but not necessarily at him. He watched the road ahead with a passive interest as he leaned back and loosened his tie. His body language mirrored the relief he felt with finally enjoying some success.
Her mind was spinning, desperately, and counting the minutes until she was home and safely in her solitude. What would she do first? 'Don't work', she thought. 'I won't work. Not tonight.' Maybe she'd even treat herself to something naughty delicious if such a thing were even in the house. Or, at any rate, just have a glass of wine. Yes, that's what she'd do.
He looked over at her and caught a glimpse of her side face in the street lamp. Here they were for the next little while so maybe he'd try to make the best of it. He thought to try and engage her but she seemed to turn away even as he was considering this. Okay, lady, I'll leave you to your thoughts.
His mind wandered back to the highlights of his day. The affirming words and encouragement had meant so much. He had been dry and hearing those words on THIS day was like a cool drink of water. He sighed and turned his gaze out of his window. They were getting closer.
She had sensed his intention when he looked her way and answered intentionally with a shoulder to him. She wasn't having it. She couldn't even begin to pretend that all was well enough to be chatty with this stranger. He couldn't handle her burdens and it would be unfair to unload them on anyone else. If she opened her mouth to speak, she feared that all would tumble out.
The cab driver eased upon the destination. It was her apartment complex address they gave him. She had only to walk from the car into the quiet she was craving. Even her feet ached to be home.
They slammed their respective doors closed after clumsily gathering their belongings. He turned to walk his way, anxious to find a friendly face, but stopped, on second thought.
"I hope tomorrow is better for you. Have a good night."
She had almost made it when these words stopped her right on walkway to her front door.
"Thank you. I hope so, too. "
The tears flowed heavily now but strangers were still strangers. She forced her gaze straight ahead and disappeared into the shadows.