A cold winter night, and such a usual scene for her. Sitting in the glass shelter near the bus stop, she enjoyed the protection from the biting freezing of the evening winds. She was alone, on the simple bench, as she was used to be, at this time of day.
A pick up truck was parked nearby. Not by the sidewalk, but in the mall’s parking lot. A man sat behind the wheel.
The street lights lay a warm halo on his face, and her gaze was drawn to him. He seemed somewhow magnetic, and she didn’t even try to be discreet. He looked right back at her, and neither felt the need to look away. There was something eerie about this moment they shared in silence, not even nodding at each other, to aknowledge the other’s presence.
They just kept staring, in the night, for what felt like hours. “Probably more like minutes” she thought, since the bus hadn’t come by. Or had it?
If for the first minutes, she just had this unescapable need to keep him in sight, the questions eventually started to pop up… Did she know him? He didn’t look familiar, but he sure felt so. Why didn’t he just step out of the truck and come to her? Why didn’t she get up and walk up to him? How long was this little game going to last? Could she just hop on her bus, and head home, not knowing the hows and whys about this mysterious man?
As if he had read her mind, the stranger smiled at that very moment. He didn’t have particularly stricking figures, and was neither especially good nor bad looking. To say the truth, she probably couldn’t give enough information to the police to sketch him, if needed… But his smile…
His smile had radiated the whole area. She had automatically forgotten about the freezing cold.
Turning a little more to her side, on the bench to face him, her left foot hit something on the ground. A large package. And she vaguely wondered if it was hers, or if it was there to begin with, when she had entered the bus shelter.
Still smilling her way, the stranger backed up, and rode around her, before turning on the street, heading North slowly. The pick up truck seemed to move in slow motion as it passed her by.
Suddenly, she felt like loosing sight of this stranger would be like the end of the world. No, not “like”, it would be the end of her world.
He turned, to smile one last time, looking out the rear window of the pick up. His smile wrapped her with that warm fulfilling feeling when…
When the news interviewed the few passers by that night after the explosion, there was not much information to gather. The pedestrians were very few, and apart than a strange lady staring blankly towards the mall’s parking lot, there was not much to say.
Except maybe one witness, who swore he had seen a halo go around the victim, seconds before the blow. A bright halo he and the lady had followed until the bomb had blown up.
“A bright soothing halo” he would tell the journalists the next day, from his hospital room.