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Round glasses and eyes behind them

As the first fingers of dawn caress the awakening city of Tallinn, I rouse from a sleep, fragile and fragmented. The air, kissed by spring, is still cool against my sleep-touched face, my breath rhythmic but shallow, a ghostly echo of a sensation of lack of oxygen stirring within me. Or perhaps, my mind weaves a more complex explanation, the root cause lying in an enigma yet to be unravelled.

In the soft embrace of the morning's light, I find myself meandering towards the bus station. My gaze alights on a riveting figure - a woman, her style a sharp contrast to the blossoming serenity around, her top fashionably shredded. Our eyes meet, a fleeting connection, but long enough for me to realize that she too has been studying me, her gaze an unwritten sonnet of curiosity.

The familiar interior of the bus welcomes me, cocooning me within its confines. Yet, the uncertainty of the journey ahead, the looming presence of border control, a harsh reminder of the war that has braided itself into our lives, gnaws at my peace.

The mundane drill of paperwork, handed to me by the bus driver, forces me back to reality. An endless loop of personal details to be filled - name, date of birth, residence - the official scaffolding that frames our existence in this world. As I raise my eyes, I catch sight of her again, her lithe silhouette a striking portrait, her large round spectacles framing her eyes, a mesmerising tale of allure.

Emboldened, I approach her for a pen, her words, a simple "here you go", the opening verse of the symphony of our conversation. Yet, the tendrils of exhaustion wrap around me and I surrender to a brief slumber, waking up only as the bus grinds to a halt in the border city of Estonia, Narva.

She's there, a solitary figure against the backdrop of the city, her presence compelling me to join her. The exchange of smiles and she reveals her name - Tatiana, an English teacher from Tallinn. A desire, a whisper in my heart, longs to be her student, to learn from her, to know her.

The rhythm of our conversation resumes, our voices a soft murmur in the hushed tranquility of the bus, our eyes engaged in a tantalising dance of attraction and coy retreat. I tell her of my imagined vision of her in a silk robe, painted in hues of green and orange, an invitation hidden within the woven words for a rendezvous after my Russia trip. Her curiosity mirrors mine, an interest in the garments I envision for her.

Our shared futures find a common ground in Stockholm, her consent to my proposition of spending more time together ignites a hopeful spark in the uncertain gloom. Amidst the intimate revelations, I am drawn to her, even in sleep, her slender fingers moving with a grace that is almost poetic, her intimate tattoo a silent testament to her enigmatic personality.

At the Russian border, my outdated passport photo gives rise to raised eyebrows, casting a shadow of uncertainty over the proceedings. Within the confines of the bus, Tatiana's curiosity is piqued, her eyes anxiously darting to the door, scanning the crowd outside for any sign of me. Her concern, though subtly expressed, is a warming testament to the bond we've shared.

Once the confusion clears and I reboard the bus, her relief is evident, and our journey resumes. Our conversation continues to weave through our shared experiences and dreams, creating an intricate tapestry of connection.

As the final chapter of our shared journey draws near, I urge her to share any lingering thoughts or emotions. Her response paints a profound picture of our time together - she's shared everything, our connection an intricate tapestry woven with personal intricacies and shared experiences.

Her parting glance holds within it an unspoken promise of potential future adventures, her silent longing echoing my own yearning for more time spent in each other's company. With a heavy heart, I bid her farewell, her memory now permanently etched onto the canvas of my heart, a beacon guiding me on my onward journey.

I carry with me the promise of a love that's as unique and indecipherable as we are, a bond that perhaps only we could truly understand. The memory of her smile, her grace, and her strength, remains with me, a testament to the intense connection we shared, if only for a brief period.

As I continue on my path, I do so with the hope that our paths may cross again, and if they do, we may rekindle the love we shared, albeit from afar. A silent vow passes between us, to keep each other in our hearts, a pact made in the silent understanding of shared connection.

She, Tatiana, with her unique blend of strength and vulnerability, was confident enough to share herself with me completely. I reflect on her ring, bearing the engraving 'Ready and Arrived', a potent symbol of her acceptance of her own journey. All I had left to do was to translate it, to understand her, perhaps a mission for another time, another place.

And so, as the bus pulls away, carrying me further on my journey, I look back one last time, committing her image to memory. For now, we must part ways, but in the depths of my heart, I know our story is far from over. This love, this connection we shared, is something the world may never understand. But we did, and perhaps, someday, we will again share the same bond.

Till then bye.

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