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Many people struggle with small talk, especially on a city bus. To Mark Hallman, the bus was like a family reunion where you can’t remember the name of your gap-toothed cousin, or that of the drunk uncle in the Chicago Bears jersey. Every weekday he left the quiet of the Lynwood Mall Park ‘n Ride and, with the apprehension of a visit to the proctologist, climbed into the echoing anonymity of the 13E. From there he rode twenty-five minutes to his job at the credit union, silent and uncomfortable among familiar strangers. Today, Mark would change all that.

To his left sat the young man with the sailor tattoo—Mark called him Popeye (never to his face, of course). Three seats back, the noisy couple who stepped off every day at Murdock Street argued again about who would cook dinner that night. In the very rear of the bus was a plump but not unattractive girl in a tartan knee-length dress and thick Harry Potter glasses. She was staring at him, again. And two seats before Mark was the woman he would someday marry.

Read the rest at First Stop Fiction: http://www.firststopfiction.com/?p=282