She sat in the back row of a double-length city bus, lounging like the two massive boxes flanking her were the arms of a throne.
The regent herself was late teens or early 20s, fond of that particular brand of hipster gear divided between 2014 and 1991. A multicolored, flat-brimmed baseball cap was crammed over a head of dark, curly hair. She wore thick-framed plastic glasses.
She sat between two 18-inch cubes wrapped in brown paper.
“Mind if I ask what’s in the boxes?” I asked.
She and a young, sandy-haired woman playing with an iPhone on the inward-facing seat across from me both started laughing.
“Boxes,” the curly-headed regent said.
The woman with the iPhone laughed harder. She wore a short, tan coat.
“Boxes?” I asked.
“Boxes,” the woman with the mounds of curly hipster-hair said. “We made them for class.”
“Oh,” I said.
“We’re students at IIT,” she said, chuckling still.
The bus rumbled past the neon night outside.
“So I imagine they’re all burnished and ornate, intricate woodwork,” I said.
The woman in the short, tan coat laughed yet again.
“No, they’re very plain,” she said, clueing me in for the first time that the two were a pair. “It’s the first thing we had to make for class, to teach us how to use the tools.”
“And you’re taking them home?”
“Since we’re new here, we don’t have any furnitures,” she continued, the first tinge of an accent starting to appear. “We decided if we had to make a box we could make a big box we could use. To sit on because we have nothing.”
“And put stuff in,” the woman in the hipster cap added, giving a confidential little nod.
I asked about the accents.
“We are from Sweden,” the sandy-haired woman with the iPhone said.
I wanted to ask more, but my stop was nearing. I think I successfully stayed on the “nice, enthusiastic, weird man” side of things without crossing to creepy. I pulled the cord.
I thanked them happily, then left the laughing Swedes with their handmade cubes, another strange encounter on the No. 66.
More stories from the No. 66 bus: