Yesterday, the bus I was hoping for never came, and until my patience gave out and I took three different buses to get home rather than just one, I found myself stuck at a bus stop where my only company consisted of two chain smokers.
I find the smell of cigarette smoke repulsive, but in that situation could not bear to leave the shade in order to escape it. In an attempt to maximize the minimal amount of shade the bus shelter provided, I had my legs over the (supposed) arm rest (which is not actually present to provide support for the limbs, but rather to prevent homeless people from sleeping on the bench) with my back turned to them. I watched them in the reflection of the advertisements, which were built into the side of the structure.
They would stop puffing in order to chat every so often, but I was never quite sure who they were speaking to. Their habit had damaged their voices beyond repair, and in my case, beyond understanding. To my half-hearing, they seemed to be speaking in growls rather than words, almost as if the wear and tear on their vocal cords had caused them to lose language. Or perhaps the tongue of the smoker is another accent I have yet to master.
The man dropped what remained of his cigarette. He stared at it, the plume of pollution emitting from it still. It rolled around in the wind among the city dirt and debris, and for a moment, I thought he had intentionally discarded it. I was horrified to watch his shadowed reflection bend over, pick the butt up and put it back in his mouth.