I had completely forgotten about the boy. I was thinking instead about how quiet a house can be even with two people living in it. Thinking that, feeling that, as I dragged myself to the stop again. Not late this morning. Early in fact, not that it mattered really. I had already missed everything important…and there he was again. A shape too small, with eyes too wide. He was playing with some kind of action figure, Batman, I assumed. That would explain it.
Seeing me arrive, he opened his eyes even wider, like he was surprised to see me, like I was the one who had disappeared into the bus, not him vanishing from the bench. Then he said it again:
“You just missed Batman again, he was here.
Sneering: “Did he take the bus again?”
“Why would he need the bus. He’s got his Batmobile!”
“But you…” I stopped. Arguing with a 6 year old suddenly felt as futile as it was.
“He asked about you.”
“Why would he ask about me? He doesn’t even know me.”
“I told him about you silly. He said you should get here earlier so you can see him.”
“I should, huh?”
“Yeah, you said you always miss the good stuff. “
Had I said that? When did i…
“You should get here earlier. It’s just him and me earlier. That would be a good thing you wouldn’t miss.”
“Maybe I don’t want to meet him.”
Eyes wide, leaning forward, like I hadn’t heard him properly, “He’s Batman!”
The bus arrived at this moment, and this time as I got on, I glanced back. He waved cheerfully, and without waiting to see if I waved back (I didn’t) he climbed down carefully off the bench, walking in the other direction, talking to his action figure as he did. For the first time, I wondered:
“Who was he?”