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Fight or Flight by Channing Ritter
 

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  • The bus arrives just after 1. Almost completely empty, she slides into a seat on the lower level. A Middle Eastern man gets on at the next stop and sits in the row behind her.

    She, absorbed in her phone.
    He, shifts in his seat.
    He lifts a hand to lightly stroke the long golden curls in front of him.
    She can feel the grime of the day—on her hands, on her clothes, in her hair.
    He waits.
    He, emboldened, strokes her hair again.
    He lets his fingers dance slowly down, like a waterfall.

    Silence.

    He knows he should stop but can't.
    He reaches and has barely made contact with the golden locks before
    She spins around in her seat, eyes ablaze.
    He, arm lingering midair.
    She jumps up and backs away several steps.
    She feels her blood surging within like hot magma.
    She, heart pumping hard, shakes with rage.
    He stares back, steadily.
    He, unashamed.
    She can barely contain a venomous, "WHAT THE FUCK.." but
    She is a stranger in this country and afraid for him to know it.
    She keeps her mouth shut.
    She signals the bus to stop 5 stops too early.
    She exits at the opposite end.
    He never takes his eyes off of her.
    She descends onto the dark pavement and turns around to lock eyes with him again.
    She watches the bus until it disappears into the night, wanting to be sure that he is gone with it.
    She feels a familiar chill run up her spine.
    She knows with certainty that
    She is all alone.
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