I have a friend that I have not yet met. Her name is Janet and we sit next to each other on the bus most every day.
I don't know if Janet is really her name. Maybe it's Rebecca or Tish or Autumn, even. Still, I think of her as Janet, even though I know a Janet in real life which makes it even more realistic, how sometimes you have friends with the same name.
I have never spoken to Janet, but almost every day she gets on at the stop right after mine, and almost every day she sits next to me. This has been going on for a few years now. Even when there are other empty seats, she sits next to me. I don't so much mind. She has narrow shoulders and sits small. I hate it when a large man sits next to me, his upper arm warm and knowing against mine.
Janet is smart, I think. A little older than I am. Her hair is black with smatterings of gray, like how a kid might have a smattering of freckles, only it's not cute, not really. For some reason I don't think Janet realizes just how gray she's getting. She works in the financial sector, frustrated sometimes that she did not do anything more with her painting. She used to love to draw.
I admire much about my friend Janet, most of which is how she has a way of saying nothing eloquently. In the morning she holds her phone in her lap as shiny as a beetle. I am good at keeping my head straight while darting my eyes to her screen. Once I saw her write something to someone on Facebook in Tagalog (I think). (Janet is part Filipino.) (I think.) When she is not on Facebook she is on Shopbop, scrolling through pages of sleeveless shifts of pink and orange. This makes me sad, mainly because she only ever wears neutrals, sensible fabric and shoes, and she would really rock the shit out of a sleeveless pink and orange dress if she would just let herself buy one.
Janet has not been on my bus for the last few days. She is probably sick. Or on vacation. (I hope she has not been fired.)
A woman named Deb sat next to me today. She has also been on my bus for years. I am not particularly fond of Deb, even though I have not yet met her either. She has frizzy hair and says hellooooo! to the bus driver as she scans her commuter card. How are youuuuuuu? to people she knows across the aisle. Can you believe all this raiiiiiinnnnnn? to no one at all. I close my eyes and miss Janet. My friend Janet.