The bus was crowded, the light overhead dim. While the lumbering vehicle slowly sank into a halt by the curb, more people poured in. The air seemed to be nervously compacted, thinning and layered, the light dimmer; it was as if people were pumping light into their lungs instead of oxygen. The bus started again, mustering all its strength boomingly loud, which later blurred into an obscured ‘Ohm’ in everyone’s ears, such overwhelming silence.
Suddenly a middle-aged woman in red broke the thick silence by elbowing her way toward the rear of the bus, her son following half-mindedly. Passengers scattered about with difficulty, each bumping into another and each eyeing the two with perfect blank and non-purpose. I was sitting in the very last row of seats that were elevated by half a meter from others. For one thing it gave me an air of self-divinity sitting above to witness all, for another I would be the least responsible of having to give away my seat to the weak and ailing.
A young woman two rows ahead of me thrust herself up and stumbled away; without hesitation and a thank, the woman in red pressed her son hard into the seat. I observed the son who, as soon as he sat down, began to poke everyone within his reach with his pale finger as if to test if the wrapped-up-in-clothes bodies were in fact red-hot.
“A mentally retarded.” I thought to myself “Thank god I am in the last row.”
People tried to avoid the young man’s touch as unapparent as possible, but they could not stop the increasing uneasiness from diffusing. The air hissed inaudibly and, for the first time, the light-absorbing passengers were drawing in air. The young man’s finger, or, his entire body, to the passengers about, was hot and toxic, one can tell. The mother slapped him sharp and cut him short. He whined, but recovered soon to turn his attention to making strange noises and wriggling in where he was. I shifted my eyes to the passengers. Their expressions were blank as usual; nothing to look at in them. I focused back on the young man.
I found him looking in my direction. My eyes touched his.
I cannot recollect his outfit; it must have been nothing at all to be recalled--- plain shirt, vulgar cartoon patterns, plain hairstyle, pale-skinned, blank. But his eyes--- not only blank with nothing at all to betray, but so blank that they could suck out the deepest of one inside him and dissolve it into none. Those eyes were not, like those of other passengers, blank as the skies on days bright but cold and gloomy above dusty Taipei; they were tremulous abyss, pure black empty chasm, sheer nothingness, into which once you look you’d know that you will not want to see them again.
Then ’his’ eyes slipped into my vision. He wasn’t there, but his eyes vivid in front of mine, the silvery eyes that I love so eagerly with so much to tell but have told me things speechlessly, that rich grey which adjusts its own color green or violet according to mood or environment, that grey whose capriciousness my brown can never emulate, that grey with a thousand and one stories. When his were gone, the dark void was still looking at me, and then his came back again…
I wonder why these two pairs of eyes pierced through me like I did not exist even if I remained immobile.
I wonder why I did not bleed.