On the Bus Again

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I live in a small town on the shores of Lake Ontario. I’ve been here ever since my husband died, nearly ten years ago. I can’t say that I like to be a widow, but I do like my single hood. I suppose I’ve grown more and more independent, and yes, even set in my ways.
I take the bus into the larger city to the west about once a week. Sometimes I have a reason to travel, say, for a doctor’s appointment or to shop the sales. More often, I have no excuse to ride, except to observe, and occasionally meet people.
I enjoy studying people on the bus. I go home and write about them. Haven’t published anything yet, but who knows? It can still happen, even though I’m seventy-three and getting older by the minute, it seems.
The fellow with the pink hair band! Now that was a character. I quite liked talking with him.
Yesterday I rode the bus again. There was a young lady, about twenty, sitting in the first seat, across from the bus driver, and close to the window. She seemed to shrink against the seat, and she didn’t look out the window as I approached. She stared straight ahead,
as I settled down beside her.
She had short hair, cut at an angle on one side, so that it hid part of her face. The other side was shaved. It was black and a bright auburn on the ends. Rather pretty, I thought, and I found myself wishing, not for the first time, that I was younger, so that I, too, might
experiment with bright hair colours.
She shifted away even more, if that were possible, as I sat down.
I set my white leather purse down on the floor in front of me, and leaned back in the soft blue cushion of the seat.
The girl coughed, bringing up her arm so that she wouldn’t spread germs. I liked that. It showed that she had some manners. A rare thing these days.
As the bus lurched forward, and several people stood to be ready for the next stop, I
leaned toward the girl and said, “My name is Sonya. I haven’t seen you on this bus before.”
The girl turned to stare at me. Her wide mouth worked a bit, before she replied, “I just moved here from up north.” She had large grey eyes, an unusual smoky colour that made her hair colour choice fitting.
“Oh, then you won’t have got used to the crowds yet, then.”
“No – no not yet.”
“Do you live in  P—-?” I asked, naming the town where I live.
“Yes, I do. On Dorcas Street.”
“Oh, that is a lovely area. You must have an apartment then.” I know the town well enough to picture the shady tree lined street and the old brick houses that have been converted into apartments.
“Yes, I have a bedsit. But it’s large enough for me.”
“Of course, dear.”
We rode in companionable silence for a couple of minutes. The young lady was no longer leaning so hard into the window side.
“I might get a cat,” she said, all at once.
“Oh, that would be nice. There’s always a cat needs a home.”
“Yes, and I won’t get a kitten, but a full grown cat. Like you said, cats need a home.”
“Good for you. And what is your name, dear?”
“Michaela.”
“What a lovely name.”
“Except no one pronounces it right or spells it properly, you know.”
“I am sorry to hear that, Michaela,” I said, careful to say it right.
“And I got sick of my boyfriend back home always calling me ” Michael.””
“And no wonder. That would be less than respectful, if you didn’t wish to be called that.”
“Exactly, which is part of the reason that I moved down south. Just to get away, from him and from my family too.”
The riders who had stood up moved forward to the doors as the bus pulled up to the next stop. They left and a few more people got on. The bus pulled away from the curb.
I noticed that Michaela studied each person as they moved to find seats. She looked from under her side swept hair, head down and not looking directly at anyone.
“Are you afraid about something that happened before you left?”
She looked at me, her mouth a little “o” of surprise.
“Well, yes, I am worried that they’ll find me and make me come home.  I had to get away before something worse happened.”
This last statement piqued my interest. I realized that I must be careful how I broached this subject.
“Then things didn’t go well between the two of you?”
“Not at all. We had a big fight when I told him I needed some time away. He got mad.”
“Oh, my. I do hope it didn’t get physical.”
The bus lurched as it pulled onto the highway. It wouldn’t be long until it arrived in P—-.
She glanced at me, through her hair.
“Well, it did, sort of. I – I had to defend myself. And I did, ” she went on. The words came then, in a torrent.
“I was at  home. Mum and Dad were out in the barn, tending to the dairy cows. He came into the house, and started to argue. I ran into the kitchen, just to get away from him. And he wouldn’t stop talking to me. He yelled at me.”
She hesitated a moment.
“I hate it when people yell. I wanted him to stop. I didn’t mean to hurt him. I just wanted him to be quiet. To go away.”
I nodded, and Michaela said, “I grabbed the knife on the counter. I’d been planning to make a sandwich when he walked in.
“I tried to make him be quiet. Mum and Dad came in then, and told me I had to get away, real quick. They took care of everything, you know. “
I patted the girl’s hand where it lay, clenched in her lap.
“And so you came south,” I said.
“Yes, and I’m never going back there, ever!”
She looked at me, with those smoky grey eyes. No tears, only clarity.
“Well, this is my stop, ” I said, as the bus slowed and pulled in. “You carry on and make a life for yourself here, ” I told her.
She smiled at me then, as I picked up my purse and got to my feet.
“Thank you,” she said. “Thank you for listening.”
I smiled and left the bus.
As I walked down the street, I pondered the conversation.
How little we know of others and their troubles, their plans and their secrets.

Something New

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Hello there. It has been quite some time since I posted here. There have been a number of reasons why not.

The main one is that, while I intended to share a couple of chapters of my life story, it has been more difficult to write than I expected. That isn’t to say that I’ve given up on it by any means.

It is just that I need time to mull over the contents of the story. There is sex, drugs and a bit of rock and roll and in writing such, it has brought up many memories, some sweet, some good, and some that tear at my heart. With time, and thought, I plan to write it. Just not as quickly as I originally planned.

In the meantime, here is a previously published short narrative.

A friend mentioned that she would like to learn more about the lady in the passage. To begin, here is the introduction to the character and her meeting with a fellow bus passenger.

city bus

The Bus

When he boarded the bus I had to move my feet out of the way as he pushed by me to sit in the window seat.

The first thing I noticed was the odor – a mixture of sweat, old socks and a hint of raw meat gone bad. He was too large for the seat I thought.

He wore an army fatigue shirt, unbuttoned and over a black sweater. His blue jeans, past the point of fashionable, had tears at the knees and along one side. His long greying hair, pulled back into a pony tail, was caught with a bright pink hair clip. Where had this hair clip come from?

As though reading my mind he turned from looking out the window and said, “I got it from me little sister.”

Oh, I see,” I said carefully looking around and trying not to stare at him.

He shifted in the too small seat and held out his arms in front of his body. He had big hands, with calluses and a scar on the left hand, that ran from thumb to wrist.

She died,” he said. He looked at me and his brown eyes filled with tears.

I am sorry to hear that. It must have been hard on you to lose her.”

Why did so many people feel they could unburden themselves to me? Perfect strangers often accosted me on this bus route or when I sat in the park. I supposed I was the stereotypical old lady. White hair, pink jacket and white sandals. I looked the part of a respectable senior.

Oh no. I expected it. But then I expected me Ma and me Father to die and they did too.”

He shifted in his seat to look at me straight on. I noticed there was a deep wrinkle, an old scar perhaps, running across his forehead, above his bushy grey brown eyebrows.

How had he gotten the scars? It seemed rude to ask.

As before it was as if he knew what I was thinking.

He held up his left hand and pointed at the scar with his right.

I got this when I was in a fight with my old man.” He closed his eyes for a moment then opened them and looked at me. “I got the better of him though. Last time he ever hit me.”

I waited not sure what to say.

He went on pointing now to the line on his forehead.

This here, that’s from me Mum. She fought almost as hard as me Pa did.”

He grinned at me and shook his head, his pony tail swinging back and forth.

Didn’t do her any good though. Got the same as me old man she did.”

I see. And then what happened?” I was curious and not a little frightened to hear the answer.

They came and took me away. Been nearly twenty years. They let me out a couple of years back and I’ve roamed about the streets every since. Sometimes I meet up with somebody and I tell ‘em the story. Just so they won’t forget me.” He peered at me. “You won’t will you? Forget me I mean?”

No of course not.” I shook my head and began to tremble when I saw that he was moving to stand up.

This here’s me stop. I gotta go now. Take care ma’am.”

He made a sort of salute as he pushed past me. He walked down the aisle to the exit door. I watched him leave the bus and walk down the street. I would not soon forget, oh no.

More to come….