The door opens with a whirl of fresh air rushing in, "Still a long way from home, are we?" it whispers.
The couple gets in, "Thank you" they say to the driver, almost in unison and smile to each other. In passing glance, in subtle gesture, an idyllic picture of youthful bliss begins to form.
As they get seated, the door closes with a satisfying hiss and I avert my eyes. No need to pry.
Rain picks up in intensity, gains momentum, mirroring the movement of our bus.
Grey sky huffs with playful indifference and conceals itself in a chaotic splatter of raindrops, in a coy, "Don't look at me I'm ugly" sort of way.
A flash of a poorly hidden smile, a mischievous look through the fingers... "I see you" - I smile back at a rainy sky, it doesn't answer, but I know - it knows.
My mind wanders and I don't immediately notice the commotion on the back seat, raised voices, different tone. Facade begins to crack and crumble, sooner than I thought.
It escalates quickly, almost surprisingly so. A meaningless fight breaks out - about an amount of money on their shared bank account, of all things.
It wasn't about having too little or too much, not about excessive spending of some sort, no. It was about a number. The number.
They couldn't agree on how much they had and instead of picking up a phone and looking it up...
The whole becomes undone.
"Do you even know how to count, I'm telling you it should be 2000"
"Fool" - she lets out under her breath as they both get up, together, but apart. It's their stop, their cue before things get too ugly.
It happened before and as they step outside - I know, it will happen again.
Rainwater flows after them, trying to cover their tracks, an obvious, feeble attempt to sweep it all under a wet rug. We both know it won't work, but there's small solace in familiar routine.
I get the keys out of my backpack, I won't need them for a while, still a few stops away from home, but I put them in my pocket anyway, so I can feel them poking at my thigh.
Uncomfortable, yes - but beats being alone.
Not quite home yet, but almost there, just a few steps down a tight, slippery alleyway, across the yard, past the playground where swings are creaking gleefully in the wind.
They are happy to see me and I respond in kind, running my fingers down the cold metal, where paint has chipped away in parts, revealing small kisses of corrosion.
Starting to show your age a bit, eh? I know the feeling.
Exchanging pleasantries is nice and all, but chilly rain has a way of reminding you that there is, in fact, a place and time for that. And it just passed.
The image of a hot bath invades my mind and I hurry towards my apartment building. Almost there, home. The keys jiggle in my pocket with shameless anticipation. And here it is, the door.
No couples, no buses, no precarious alleyways and drab skies.
Just me and the door. I enter.
The stale smell of the lobby knocks the metaphor down a few notches, gives me a healthy dose of reality and I welcome it.
I run up the stairs like a kid again, staircases fly by in a blur, 6th floor or not - it doesn't matter...
"Oh yes it does" my knees respond, but begrudgingly oblige, they wouldn't mind a good soak either.
I giddily rush inside my apartment, supposed final destination of my long and tiring journey.
But any sense of elation is unceremoniously brushed aside, along with my soaked clothes - all thrown into a pile. I'll get to it later. First, let's draw a bath and get that kettle going.
"I'm a simple man with a simple plan" - I sing to myself as I tread the rising water with my toes - it feels just right, so I jump over the rim, like I jumped over the fence many times before,
to see if our neighbors apples taste as divine as everyone says. And boy, do they.
An unsure smile creeps onto my face. What am I doing? I'm a 30 years old man. It's a loaded thought, one of those that come with a baggage of expectations and responsibilities.
But before doubt starts to creep in, I realize that no one is around to judge or care. So I submerge myself in steamy waters and the world around me starts to melt away.
The cup of lemon tea, perched atop of a washing machine standing next to the tub - goes first.
The ceiling lets me through, past the upstairs neighbours renovating their hallway yet again, in their continuous fight against the pull of entropy.
Past the roof, with antennae huddled together to shelter themselves from the downpour. Past every troubled cough, every worried step and every tear silently disappearing in the rain.
I can see the city, a sleeping giant, rolling over from one side to the other, letting out deep sighs in-between. Its features blurred, softened by the rainfall. What does it dream of?
Of hope perhaps, but there's more. We need to get higher. The clouds part and let me through, it's quiet here, but I can feel the anticipation building, I know what's coming next.
Somewhere down below in a small apartment with a man sleeping in a tub, a forecast comes up on TV. And boisterous weatherman's voice declares: "Spring is finally here".