He, later known as Ethan Jenly, sat directly in front of her. His jeans were ripped-the opposite of Amy's Calvin Klein dark skinny legged jeans bought by her roommate Michelle for her last birthday. His hands looked very rough and calloused for it only being the start of a work day. This most likely meant years at a hardworking job, but it didn't show on his face at all. This man's face was wrinkle free, even scar-free. It would have been perfect-the bone structure like a model-if Amy hadn't noticed his eyes. They looked tired but more along the lines of having not shut for days and were full of worry.
Amy was mildly curious and held many questions. At that moment, after seeing his green eyes, he spoke in a charming voice suitable for his features but not his style. She had assumed he would sound exhausted with a voice hinting with ruggedness. The sound of his voice made Amy internally decided for her that she would no longer be assumptions about other people, especially this man's character. When he spoke for the first time, after fifteen minutes into his ride, he was explaining his appearance on the bus. Even the driver knew he never used public transportation.
"Hope there wasn't a wreck or anything," the driver said.
"Nothing like that, thanks. It was either fix it or get stares at the rumbling car when I drove down the streets with paint chipping every five feet," he explained.
"That shouldn't take too long…no need for the bus after a couple of days," the driver assumed.
"I guess so," he agreed.
Amy re-found the book in her lap that she had completely forgotten about. Instead of seeing the words, she just flipped pages. As she was doing this, she remembered what the driver had said. He'd be back on tomorrow and maybe the next day. In order to prep herself for this strangers next appearance, she thought of the game twenty questions and thought of the twenty questions she wanted to ask him. The list in her head went from his name all the way to his favorite smell. She had to narrow it down; that's for sure.
After a long hour on the bus, both with company and without, she made it to her Animal Babysitter's job and got to work. The dogs and cats she cared for she would baby and use that baby sounding voice. Today, she spoke to the animals like they were competent people. It wouldn't be considered crazy because this is how Amy worked. She always had to talk when she took care of the animals. Her fellow coworkers were off doing the same thing she was. Amy Grettlemen could not keep quiet when it came to boys. Not when she was thirteen and not now at the mature age of twenty -two. She worked her full shift and got her ride home from her manager. She was the lady you didn't talk to about boys no matter how much you were bursting with a story.
Mrs. Snegger was in her sixties and would get over-enthused at the mention of a name that sounded like it was male. Amy turned red on a daily basis because Mrs. Snegger would always talk about men that were clients and "definitely ring-less." She would specifically call Amy to the front of the shop and introduce her to the perspective men. Amy would always have to correct her and say "perspective clients." This was a ridiculous habit Mrs. Snegger had formed, but she kept her mouth zipped shut while Mrs. Snegger took her home and babbled on about the flawless men that had potential to be husbands.
Amy's two roommates, Michelle and Elizabeth, were there at 5:30 p.m. when she got home. This was always a good thing because it was rare that they could have dinner and catch-up. Amy never really had news and the new guy on the bus was definitely news. Her two college friends wouldn't ask too many questions because they would want to get back to their nursing/psychology studying. Amy did online courses and they weren't too much trouble. The conversation went smoothly and predictably; except at the part where Amy described her morning bus ride. That is when things went off track and both Michelle and Elizabeth stopped speaking the same words at the same time and instead became two different people.
Elizabeth shouted, "TELL US EVERYTHING!"
"UNBELIEVEABLE!" Michelle added, yet still shouted.
Calmly, Amy said, "How so? I mean, it's just a guy on my bus-a complete enigma. I'm not going to talk to him."
Startled, the two girls said, "Why not? You speak to everyone else."
"Not true," denied Amy, "I just say 'good morning' to them."
Trying to not sound bossy, Michelle said, "Okay, then you should say hi to him tomorrow morning and smile. Do not turn red like you usually do or else you will blow it!"
"Gee, thanks for the advice. You aren't a dictator at all" Amy said sarcastically.
Her alarm rang off at 7:10 a.m. and she sluggishly got out of bed to get dressed and ready. She decided against putting her uniform on and instead settled on some nice jeans and a pretty sweater. Working with dogs, there was no need to look your best. Yesterday morning she was working with the smaller dogs that didn't shed so she wore her dark jeans. Contrasted to yesterday, today's jeans would be seen because she wouldn't wear her long, old, puffy coat. Today, she would wear her special occasion grey woolen coat that tightens at the waist to bring attention to her hourglass figure. When dressing, Amy thought it was a wasted effort. It's just a boy, she thought. Then she looked in the mirror on her way out and felt good about herself. Even if she gets no appraising glances, she'll have a confidence within her.
When taking the bus in the morning, people establish their own seat. This morning when she stepped up onto the bus, her seat was occupied by that man. He'd gotten on before her today…weird. She was actually a bit angry that he had taken her seat. He obviously didn't know the rules of public transportation-you don't take peoples seats. After sitting down across from him, she brought out her book.
"Hi." she shot right back not taking her eyes from her book. Amy was the type to hold grudges and she didn't want to speak to him.
"Not a good morning then," he spoke with sincerity.
"Well, no offense to you…" she began but paused when she realized his name was unknown still.
"Ethan," he told her at the pause.
"Oh, Ethan then, no offense, but you took my seat," Amy told him honestly.
"I'm so sorry. I hadn't realized people were picky about their seats on a bus," he said apologetically and actually sounded remorseful.
"Actually," he began, "the place never called me so you'll see me tomorrow. I found a stop closer to my place so I'll be sure not to get in your seat next time."
Amy laughed, "That would be wonderful."
Mark was surprisingly talkative and the conversation kept up nicely. She was committing to memory the entire conversation until the hour was up and she had to leave. Before her stop she remembered he had gotten off before her so she had to ask him about it.
He embarrassingly answered, "No. I don't know the bus routes well and asked the driver where I should really get off and on the bus. He saved me an extra five minutes standing in the cold. I see you have a sweater on, it's nice. I should probably invest in one."
"Thank you, sweaters do keep a person warm. Try Express, they have some very handsome looking sweaters," she said.
Mark laughed and said, "I'll do that. Handsome looking ones you say? I need them then."
It was her stop and as she walked out of the bus, she said to him, "No…you don't need the sweater to look handsome. Have a good day and I'll see you tomorrow."
A split second after she sent that text, her inbox had Elizabeth's reply. It said that Michelle and she would be home for dinner again and they would indeed be having a chat about this episode between Ethan and Amy. Amy was very excited about being able to re-connect with the girls. She was losing touch and this situation was the only one that could keep them on track as best friends. Michelle and Elizabeth had been worrying about Amy for a while now. Not anymore.
Amy rushed through her work of playing with the dogs and noticed a few people were short some animals to care for. Amy had four but figured she may ask the other workers if they wouldn't mind helping out. For the first time in the three years of working at Animal Babysitters', Amy was going to ask to leave early. She didn't want to rush dinner because she had to do her History online class. If leaving was for educational purposes, surely Mrs. Snegger wouldn't be mad if she left. She called Elizabeth from the work phone to ask if she'd be home in a couple of hours to get her from work. Unfortunately, she had Nutrition class to go to and more unfortunate news followed; that means Michelle would be with her. The afternoon buses were always crowded, but dinner with the girls was worth it. Plus, Ethan could be on the bus and that reason alone made up her mind to just take the bus home.
Well, he wasn't on the bus, but she managed to get home, do her online class just in time for the roomies to arrive home. Then Amy got started on dinner. None of them were even sitting at the dinner table before the questioned erupted from Michelle and Elizabeth. They'd always been like this-from the freshmen orientation up until now. The conversation or rather, the examination process once again started with the roommates simultaneous "TELL US EVERYTHING." This time, she would have more of a story besides the one from the previous dinner. This time, Amy had a name and an hour of conversation to go along with it. Not to mention the fact that she also got a compliment out of this man.
Naturally, Amy had to follow up with an excited "Way!" which she did unashamed. After this cliché moment, the real story unfurled.
"We talked during the entire bus ride before I had to get off. When he complimented me, I actually accepted it and said something back besides a 'thank you'. I don't think I blushed because he never laughed at me. But he did laugh! And it was a good hearty laugh. It was shocking even to me that I didn't mess anything up. There wasn't an exchange of numbers, but hopefully Wednesday, I mean tomorrow…"
Michelle cut her off and said, "You mean Thursday. Tomorrow is Thursday."
Confused, Amy said, "But my classes…I got my work done today."
Elizabeth had a history with all types of guys. Her brothers (four to be exact) ranged from jock and nerd to musician and bum. She knew what guys thought of girls who asked too much too fast and those were the girls who were turn-offs. She was a good friend to Amy by her knowledge. Michelle had the physicality part for Amy to know as well. Both friends were vital to her blossoming into a confident woman.
Michelle was a fashionista. She wore the prettiest scrubs when she had clinical. This obsession was also the cause of her money problems. Mall adventures were practically a weekly tradition. Amy was smart enough to only go once a month. However, when meeting a new boy, Michelle felt it was necessary that Amy need to buy a new wardrobe. She thought it was great that Ethan complimented her sweater, but she had to try out other clothes also and to avoid that same sweater for about two weeks or else he may think she was trying too much by wearing it more than once in two weeks. Amy sighed.
"Yeah! We want to improve your knowledge and looks, not change you completely." Elizabeth added hearing Michelle's rude sounding remark.
"Oh, I know, I know," Amy said innocently, "it's just that this is a lot to take in and do. We have school and I have work to worry about."
"No worries Amy dear. Friends always come first, "Elizabeth said.
"Exactly. See? We are here for you. You don't work tomorrow and instead of dinner, we'll hit the mall and grab a snack there." Michelle said excitedly.
"Oh! Crap! I don't work on Thursday's do I? I won't see him and I didn't tell him that. I said 'see you tomorrow'" Amy was spastically saying.
"Calm. Calm it down. This is not the end of the world," once again simultaneously said by the girls.
"Okay, you're right," she took a deep breath and continued, "Amy can play a little hard to get. It's just one day, he won't think I've died tragically."
"That's the spirit Crisis over then. I'm going to finish dinner and go workout. Would you like to join me Amy? You never come!" Michelle pleaded.
"Sure, why not. I'm doing new things, exercise may as well count," Amy agreed happily.
Amy was getting energetic from all the exercising which was an oxymoron. Doing a workout had Amy ready to tackle anything whereas when she sat home watching her shows, she was dead tired. She felt good doing something different and would for sure come back to that gym. She let Michelle in on how much fun she was having and Michelle smiled. Next time, Elizabeth would come and the three of them would have a great time.
When Michelle had had enough, they went home. It was just in time for her Wednesday reality show, but Amy chose to tivo it and read. She hadn't been able to read for a couple of days now and she always finished a book each week. It was a tradition. Her book, Strangers to Lovers, was oddly enough about what was going on in her own life currently. Girl meets boy and has pleasant conversations but the worry of never seeing him again always loomed in the background. She became so consumed with the story, seeing as it was made for her, that she finished it. And in the end they found each other again and everything was fabulous she quoted to herself from the last sentence. Then Amy looked at the clock by her head and it read 12:10 a.m. How on earth had I stayed up so long? she wondered aloud. When did the girls say goodnight-if they even had? she questioned.
Time was really escaping Amy these days, and although she liked the reasoning behind it, she didn't want to miss anything. She had her last year of school by doing a few online classes and could literally not afford to receive a bad grade. There were two months left and this was almost crunch time. However, Amy had longed for someone to share her stresses with to take them away. There was no point in dropping Ethan because she was finally getting what she wanted out of life; a partner. All of these big scary thoughts were enough to get her sleeping and she slept peacefully and dreamlessly through most of the night.
It was almost 10:00 a.m. when her dream woke her up. From conversation last night, she had dreamy about Ethan actually being a crazy stalker guy. He got off the bus with her one day and was close behind her while she went into work. Before she could grasp the door handle, he snatched her back, threw her in a nearby car, and she was powerless. That was the worst part of it, being powerless. That was the end of the dream. Good thing it was Thursday and she didn't have to see him. Most likely, she'd pass right by him and sit at the back of the bus and avoid him. Dreams don't really mean anything though do they?
Amy spent her Thursday morning and afternoon catching up on everything. She clearly skipped a day during the week. Maybe it was a Tuesday morning she had met Ethan. She didn't work Monday's either but somehow, a day of the week fell away. Back to the present; Thursday was a day for laundry and cleaning the apartment. Thursday was a grocery shopping day for thing that were running low like milk or toilet paper. Amy loved doing all that type of shopping so Michelle and Elizabeth would make lists and leave money so she could go shopping. Thursday was also set as a day for renting a movie in case there was nothing going on around town throughout the weekend.
The grocery store wasn't crowded. Typically of Thursdays, it wasn't so the shopping went rather quickly. She practically danced around the store throwing things left and right into the cart. Items she needed were always in the same spot. The cart was full fifteen minutes into shopping and she proceeded to the number seven checkout where Danny worked.
"Hi Danny. Is today treating you well?" Amy said. This was how their conversations went-Amy loved the old man.
"Oh, you know, Thursdays are always okay. You look different though…" he trailed off when Amy started blushing.
A little embarrassed because her change in appearance was noticeable, Amy said "Yeah, the girls convinced me to start wearing makeup on a daily basis. You know them."
"Those girls…tell them I say 'hello' and 'congratulations.'" Danny said.
Confused, Amy asked, "Congratulations for what exactly?"
"Congratulations for bringing you confidence, enough to get you wearing makeup on your own terms." he answered
"Of course. I will relay the message." By that time the groceries were rung and bagged so the two said their every Thursday goodbye.
As she was putting the food away after walking with the bags to the apartment, she was thinking about what Danny had said. She did feel much better with makeup on. It wasn't at all about covering her true self. Amy took her little features and made them irresistible. Suddenly, her light brown eyes popped and glistened. Her lashes were long and full reaching up to her perfectly arched eyebrows. The foundation she wore left a smooth and even complexion with a subtle hint of color to her fair face.
The last thing the mirror reflected back to Amy was her lips. Both top and bottom were amazingly full. Amy then smiled rather large and the red lipstick revealed a very white set of teeth. She was beautiful, like a model, and could take any man's breath away. Today though, as she was standing at the mirror, she took her own breath away. Looks usually take a person away from reality, but Amy was using her looks for herself. If Ethan happened to approve, then good for him Amy thought.
There was no doubt in the world that he would disapprove. It hit hard when Amy remembered he may not even be on the bus again Friday morning. She could be hopeful, yes, but that was probably a waste of time. Things didn't work like they do in the movies. She practically had promised to see him today and she let him down. He'll go back to his normal life with the perception that she's a terrible person. Her first chance at love (since her random nights Michelle and Elizabeth would hand her possibilities) and she goes ahead and blows it.
It was already three o'clock by the time she cleaned, went grocery shopping, did the laundry, and truly saw herself in the mirror. She forgot to rent a movie, but less money spent so it wasn't devastating. There was really nothing else to do so she slept until the door to the apartment unlocked. The girls were home.
They barged right into Amy's room. "And what are you doing in bed young lady? Sick?" Another game of twenty questions was about to ensue. Elizabeth was the leader.
"I just got sleep after cleaning and everything-it took longer than usual" Amy gave them a look to blame them for the massive cleaning duty she accomplished.
"Whatever," Michelle started up with attitude, "it's practically finals week already. I make a mess of the apartment this time and next week I'll be ripping my hair out! I'm sorry."
"Wow," Amy was shocked, "that's a bit extreme. I can help you study if you need it that badly. I was just kidding about the apartment being a disaster area."
Elizabeth got back into the conversation. "Your eyes are very expressive…especially with makeup on. It was hard to tell you were joking. Finally taking my tips and it works."
"Oh…about that," Amy said embarrassingly, "I figured I'd try it today to see if it's effective. Obviously I'm doing it right."
"That's right; you'll get to see that boy tomorrow won't you?" Michelle asked.
"Not likely." Amy said glumly.
"And why not?" Elizabeth asked with force.
"He wasn't supposed to be on the bus for more than two days. I harvested optimism for nothing!" Amy replied.
The girls then tried to soothe poor Amy the rest of the night by being nothing but positive. "No negative Nancy will live here!" Michelle said. That put a laugh on Amy's face. They could feel Amy's good spirits rising back up so they felt free to all go to sleep.
"Sweet dreams ladies. Must go and get my beauty rest if I'm to see Ethan again." Amy cheerfully said. She then departed to her room and left the girls high fiving each other for fixing the bad mood of Amy. That night she dreamt both quietly and peacefully.
Eight hours later, Amy awoke to realize she didn't have an outfit picked out for the day. Her makeup was all mixed up with the rest of the junk in her purse, and her jewelry was all tangled up with other jewelry. What a way to start off a Friday. She called to the girls for help and Michelle came. Together, they started everything out.
It was a bit warmer outside, so Amy wore a lighter shade jean. The top Michelle picked out for her was a very noticeable pink color, but she promised it'd look great with Amy's hair and eyes. It was a low-cut top too so Amy picked out a nice silver necklace to wear. Amy told Michelle to go back to sleep because there was no way she'd put on makeup with someone behind to watch and critique.
Day two of wearing makeup on her own accord went smoothly. She chose a dark grey for the eye shadow but only a little bit. Her mascara did its job because her lashes curled right up to her arched eyebrows and lasted for miles. There was no point in blush because her cheeks could turn bright on their own. Not to seem too "Barbie", she put on a light pink shade of lip gloss. The process was complete.
Running out of time, she quickly straightened her hair. The weather didn't call for rain so there were no worries about her hair frizzing or curling up. The temperature was cool but not enough to wear a hat so her hair wouldn't have to go flat. Things were actually going well. That had to be a sign that it would stay that way. Right?
At the bus stop, Amy was rocking from side to side. It was difficult to stay still while her stomach was doing flips. He'd be on the bus before her. She'd have an hour to learn more about him. Then again, he could have his Grand Am fixed and drive right past her. Wouldn't that be mortifying? Bad things were building up within her mind. The bus was turning the corner and the moment of truth had arrived.
He was there. He wasn't supposed to be, but he was and he sat in the seat which would be across from her, like the other time. His eyes smiled, his back straightened, and he didn't wait for Amy to start talking first.
"I'm sorry. It completely slipped my mind that I don't work on Thursdays. Hope I didn't worry you." Amy answered.
"Well it did worry me but I am glad that you're alright. I rode the bus an extra day for nothing." Ethan said.
"You car is fixed. That's good Ethan. This'll be our last hour today then I take it." Amy said.
"Look like it. I only rode the bus today to let you know and make sure you weren't sick or damaged." he said.
"I would have let you know, but I don't have your phone number. I felt bad." she said.
"Oh you don't do you?" he began smiling, "get pen and paper because this cannot be our last hour together."
"Likewise for you…actually, I'll just put you in my phone now." They exchanged numbers into each other's phones. Amy's name should be the first he sees-she checked quickly.
"Now, please don't wait three days to call." he joked.
"I should say the same thing. You are the man after all. I guess we can both break the rules." she joked back.
"Be by the phone-I'll most likely have things to say to you, Amy."
"Oh my silly roommates like to beautify me." she replied.
Ethan laughed and it almost put her in a trance. The he spoke, "They are silly roommates aren't they then. To think they can beautify you with makeup when you are already beautiful naturally."
"You, Ethan Jenly, are quite the charmer. It's okay though. Thank you very much. It's a rarity that I get compliments that matter." she said.
He was in denial; "I highly doubt that Miss Amy Grettleman."
"You're silly just like my roommates." she said.
"Well then, I should probably meet them." he said.
"It's almost finals week. They are going nuts, as will I. Let's give it a couple of weeks-if you do call me that is." he said.
Throughout the rest of the bus ride, the two joked and complimented each other. There was an older couple on the bus that looked at them then looked at each other. The lady leaned over to Ethan and said "You all are going places" then turned into her husband to cuddle. Amy heard Ethan say "thank you" to the older woman and it piqued her curiosity.
She smiled to the older couple and turned back to Ethan sitting across from her. "And what exactly was that?"
He smiled a very cute smile and crossed the bus to sit next to her. At that, her heart beat wildly. He had never been this close to her before. Her cheeks flushed like she knew they would. He loved that apparently because he put his arm gently around her and was honest with what the lady had said. The older man looked up and nodded at Ethan. That was a "thumbs up" in guy lingo; even Amy knew that.
"You're still red. I'll go back to my seat now." Ethan
"No, no, it's okay. This is oddly nice even if your PDA is being shown on a bus." Amy said.
"So high-school to worry about that. I couldn't pass a whole hour talking to you again without being closer to you. Leaning across the bus doesn't do much." he admitted.
"That's sweet, but we haven't even been on a date yet." she said.
"Why wait to see a physical connection then? Now we can have more fun on the first date because the spark is there. Don't you agree" he asked.
Hesitantly, Amy agreed. "I suppose you are right."