“Are you feeling the blues? Besides why the umbrella? It’s the middle of the dry season.” I wanted to say get lost but my mouth replied, “you can never tell when it would rain. Always save for the rainy day, right?”
“You are probably right.” I took a second look at the person who decided to disrupt my personal space. He had bones for cheeks, a hallway nose and eyes unbearable to look at for too long, his entire face wasn’t bigger than a clenched boxing glove and had spiky stubble scattered on it. He smiled to reveal a set of teeth that have lost more teeth than those remaining.
“I know my name.”
“What did you say?”
“You forgot your name right? I have been listening. I do that a lot, they say it’s a terrible habit. Prying on people’s conversations is like spying on them having sex. I don’t accept that. People do not have sex in public unless they are crazy. Several nuts not screwed tightly in the head,” he tapped his head with his thumb, there was no hair on his head.
“My friend, in Japan people don’t make loud conversations in public. They hush when they speak outside, you would often hear someone whisper on the phone ‘I can’t talk now, I am on a train,’ or a woman to her spouse ‘not here honey, we will talk when we get home.’ The Japanese are very discreet, they do not easily spill secrets because they rarely talk about them. Don’t ask me how I know, I have never been to Japan nor have I met a Japanese. I read it in a magazine, so it might just be a crappy article written to fill the pages. The thing is mind what you say, especially in public, you can’t really tell who is listening.” He whispered the last part.
“Can I ask you a question?” He smiled and told me he wouldn’t have talked to me if he wasn’t ready to answer my questions.
“Why are they all smiling?”
“Would you rather they frown?” He changed his posture and stooped a bit closer to me. I could feel his breath on my face and strained my ear to get what he said next.
“Don’t be fooled by the skin of things, there is always more than you see,” those were the words he said. He withdrew into his seat fully and looked away. I felt dead to him, he was a stranger, called me friend and might even know more about me than I did. He assured me I could ask questions yet after just one he backed out without warning.
“Excuse me sir, I have other questions…”
“A question; that was what you asked for and the last time I checked a question meant just one question,” he didn’t look at me while he spoke. I knew I had to leave him alone, figure things out on my own.
“The skin of things,” the words played over and over in my head. It wasn’t the first time I have heard that. I needed to recall when, I felt it in my gut that if I did everything will unravel. I fixed my eyes at the bony faced man I just talked to, studied his features in-depth while the skin of things continued its infinite loop on my head. Thick veins snaked across his skull, his shoulders stretched in an embraced beneath his shirt which made guessing his age difficult. He was very tall, I could tell by the length of his upper body and his fingers, he placed them casually on his shoulders.
‘With matter as with people we can only see the skin of things, we can’t see into the engine room. We can’t see what makes them tick,’ the words came in along with its source. It was a TED.ED video by a certain John Lloyd, he talked about invisibility, how there is more of it than we think.
“Doctor, it’s time.” I knew it was Miss Blue, I recognized her voice and stood up before she asked me to.
“I won’t forget anything this time,” I said to the blue dressed girlish woman behind the counter. She smiled, shrugged and continued what she was doing.
This is an excerpt of a short story that is evolving into a longer piece.
Hopefully, over the next few weeks, I will let them all out here.
Featured photo by TheIncurableOptimist