Yesterday on the bus ride back to Dufferin Station, two women sat beside me. They were somewhere in that confusing range of ages between one's late thirties and late forties; their hair was dyed and styled, their eye liner neatly applied, yet they wore their clothes as if afraid of being too brightly dressed, and tried to hide the wrinkles of their skin beneath concealing layers of flesh-toned makeup. They were Russian, and spoke in that loud, carefree manner that people have when they know that they can say what they like and not be understood.
One woman settled in beside me while the other eyed me in my seat, clearly wondering if I would rise and let her sit beside her friend. I considered it, and stayed seated. Seeming mildly irritated, she clung to a nearby pole as the bus rocked back and forth in its stop-and-go way up Dufferin Street. After a bit, she held out her hand, palm up; her friend took her hand in her own, and pulled it further forward, closer to the light from the window.
With one painted nail, she began to read her friend's palm. I watched casually, not letting my eyes linger but never losing track of their interactions. The one friend talked while the other laughed; the one friend ran her fingers across the other's palm again and again. I imagined the swish of dry skin over the sound of traffic and the rumble of the bus's acceleration. They compared palms. The palm reader kept saying one word over and over again; for a time it seemed I knew the Russian word for "line."
Then the bus stopped at the station and I got out while they remained. I whispered my Russian word and again became lost in the crowd.