The bus arrives midday in the middle of the week. Dina thinks nothing at first; the bus comes and the bus goes, and she wipes down tables no one sits at and eats alone at a table made for two. Her life is both circular and stagnant, and if her hair did not turn grey and her joints ache anew, she’d think that the months never passed.
And then they meet, as though on a train in some movie, or two ships floating on the distant ocean, alone but for the company of the waves and the stars. He moves her to dance like she hasn’t done in years. And though he steps away from her at the end of the evening, she knows, she hopes, that she has moved him all the same as well.
She gives him the address he needs. Nothing more, nothing less. She wants to believe that their knuckles brushing at the tradeoff was some reference to a movie, that their meeting was fated by the lovers she had watched in the living room growing up.
Like the few hours they spent in each other’s company meant as much to him as it meant to her.
Tewfiq keeps his eyes down, she stares at the brim of his hat.
But maybe she’s always just wanted too much for a person in her situation, so she watches the dust settle after the bus leaves.
And then she walks back into her cafe. And then life continues on.
The postcard arrives in the middle of the week, a little over two weeks after the blue-suited band leaves. It is somewhat dusty, and bent on the corners from its journey from the kiosk it was bought at, to Dina’s hand. The script is tidy, small, and neat as though the hand that had written it was strict and decisive. She knows who it’s from before she even reads the signature.
I walked through the main square of Petah Tikvah today. Saw the culture you had mentioned earlier, and enjoyed some local street musicians before the concert. Many thanks for the advance notice. I am looking forward to being home. I think of the sea, and about fishing.
I hope this finds you well.
Smiling in mild disbelief, she turns over the postcard to see an image of Petah Tikvah’s main square. As she gazes at the picture, she spots a tiny bit of writing located in the corner. He didn’t have to include it, but his address is there all the same.
He lives in an apartment. She wonders if he has plants. Maybe a radio, probably not a TV. She pictures shelves full of books. In her imagination, it is small and lonely, which makes her shake her head to get the thought loose. She only knew the man for one night, she can’t know what his life is like. But for a man who did not say much, he left many gaps for her to fill with wishful thinking and the desire to know someone more than she knows herself.
She’d thought about him on occasion, the two weeks after they left. Not every day, not even every other day. But frequently enough, she finds herself staring at the spot where they first met, as though he would spring out of the dirt fully formed and dressed in that sergeant pepper, baby blue suit.
She runs her finger idly along the edge of the postcard, thoughts hundreds of miles away, and her heart thumping almost audibly in the quiet of the cafe.
Papi stares at her, idly spinning a plate on his usual table. He’s spent years getting to know her silences, but he’s unfamiliar with this new look on her face. “A postcard from a friend?”
“The conductor. From the orchestra.”
“Ah. He wants to be friends now?”
She turns sharply. “What does that mean?”
Papi flushes under her gaze, this new confidence from him an unexpected turn of events following the band’s visit. Before meeting them he would shrug and turn away in embarrassment, but now he maintains eye contact despite the inevitable blush. “You haven’t been this contemplative in years. Since...”
They both know who he’s talking about. “So you’re telling me I’ve been staring off into space about a man?”
“It’s been known to happen.” Papi jerks his head at the postcard in her hand. “So are you going to write back? Strike up a friendship with the general?”
“Well, I think we were already friends when he left, but you know how it goes.” She smiles, a small, secret smile to herself. “It is what it is.”