Short Story Exercise: Ride a Bus

(using this book, set timer for ten minutes and wrote a short story relating to the phrase “ride a bus” [and it’s Keanu Reeves’ birthday so why not], lightly edited)

Sandy sat on the bus in her usual seat. The normal stink of the bus had an added layer of ozone and mildew today. And there were more people riding than usual, probably because of the rain. It sounded like every last one of them had the plague. The snorts and hacking coughs made Sandy’s stomach turn.  

The tires splashed in the puddles as the bus lurched through downtown. Sandy had at least twenty minutes before her next stop, and then she would get to wait for another bus to take her to the restaurant where she worked. She hoped her car would be fixed soon. How long can a busted head gasket really take to fix?

The doors opened and a new group climbed aboard, but most of them had to remain standing. When the bus rolled back into traffic, a man sat in the empty seat next to Sandy. He smelled delicious, like toasted coconuts. He looked a little bit like Keanu Reeves, too. Laughing to herself, Sandy wondered if there was a bomb on the bus and she’d have to drive.

The man looked at her, a questioning smile on his face.

“Oh, sorry.” Sandy giggled. “You just, I mean, you look like that guy. In that movie? With the bus? You know the one?”

Frowning, the man stood and moved to the back of the bus. Sandy bonked her head against the glass. Damn, she thought. Talking to a strange, attractive man on the bus. Don’t do that.

The rain was still pouring when Sandy’s stop finally came. She hustled to the plexiglass shelter and hoped her next bus would be on time. The Keanu look-alike followed her into the covered bus stop and startled Sandy when he sat on the bench next to her. She trained her eyes on the newsstand across the street.

He said, “I hear relationships that start in stressful circumstances don’t last.”

Sandy quickly glanced at him and was relieved to see his smile. “Okay,” she replied. “We’ll have to base it on sex then.”

He laughed and extended his hand. “I’m Ted Theodore Logan. What’s your name?”