[The Daily Post‘s latest prompt is to describe what one would do with sudden fluency in a foreign language]
The fog that descended on Claire left as suddenly as it had come. She hadn’t seen it coming, nor would have expected such a phenomenon on this perfectly sunny June morning — she’d only felt a sudden chill wind shoot through her a second before being surrounded in a mist so thick she could not see the sidewalk beneath her feet. And then it had vanished, leaving her alone and shivering at the bus stop, the warmth of the sun never seeming so welcome.
Claire released her hands’ grip on her biceps as the bus approached, and when the paneled doors opened she all but leapt into the vehicle. She inserted and retrieved her pass into the register, and as the bus lurched forward searched for a seat.
As usual, the elderly Asian man (Korean, she believed, though realizing she had no evidence to support this assumption) was sitting next to the window in third row to the right. The seat next to him was empty, also as usual, as the man who always dressed in jeans and a heavy khaki jacket had a propsensity for sudden unintelligible outburts, especially when touched. But this was the only open seat on the crowded bus this morning, and still somewhat upset from the effect of the chill fog Claire decided her comfort took precedent over any potential fleeting conflict.
She sat on the seat carefully, the elderly man ignoring her. The bus’ compression brakes hissed into action, Claire’s body lurching forward with the momentum, her elbow brushing against the man’s sleeve.
“Stupid bitch! Leave me alone!”
“Hey look, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean — ” the words had come out of her mouth reflexively, before she realized what had just happened. The old man turned to her, the wonder in his widening eyes confirming her disbelieving realization.
“You — speak Mandarin!”