Country roads. Beautiful the first 15 minutes. And then the next 30. And sometimes even the last 25 are tolerable, if you can forget the sweaty kid. The one with his gym shorts on when he could have changed, his hair awkwardly stapled to his forehead, skin a darker shade of ruby than normal. And the loud talker manages conversation for 35 minutes before finally getting off and doing the bus a collective favor. Pointless. Yes, we know he gives a lot of homework, and, no, we can't believe it's going to snow again, and, oh, yeah, that sucks that your dad can be such a jerk. He didn't let you out last weekend? I know you think he doesn't care but don't worry, 'cause it's not like I don't care either. No, it wasn't like I was trying to listen to my headphones, don't worry about it. I practically apologize, throwing the sympathetic tone back in her face. I think, while sitting there, that fat girls must feel the need to talk more, not quite good enough to be attractive and not quite attractive enough to be important. These are thoughts that I will end up losing while guiding my fingers over the tape cross, wondering, how this could have cut and why so meditated, as if someone needed to open the soft pores of cheap brown leather to express something that's since been lost. My fingertips stifle themselves in the fleshy intestine of the seat back when someone says, "Look, the sun, it's dying," and I think, not dying, more or less just staggering, stabbed maybe, spilling its guts out along the horizon, its daily bereavement. Sometimes you can't duplicate a moment, it's there long enough to feel and make you want to crawl up against, the way I'd wanted to wrap the dying shouts of the sun around my waist, my arms, the coldest, lost in a collage of green that opens through the window. It's hard not to smile, the louder the shocks pound in the back of the bus or the quiet hum of the tires against the humble back roads. If you're extra careful you might even catch your own reflection, providing the sun is generous enough. Smiling, because the world is a beautiful place, because this isn't just a bus anymore, because you want to propose to your wife on the hump seat and raise your kids under the emergency exit, because you could be going anywhere right now until you're finally home.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.