Sketch of a Stranger

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A young girl is sitting on a bench. She's not really that young, about nineteen. Old enough to look like its normal that she's on her own, but young enough to still look vulnerable and lonely, like she's waiting for someone she knows isn't coming. Next to her is a bulging backpack, but what it's filled with, no one knows. Her hair is a dark brown-red, almost mahogany, and it's hanging past her shoulders with just the slightest bit of natural curl. It falls onto her face, and she flips it being her ears, then slips a red hair tie off her wrist and puts it up into a ponytail. Her electric blue toenail polished is chipped, and even though it's a sunny morning, she's not wearing sunglasses. A man walking a dog smiles at her, and she looks right through him and bites her nail. She's thinking.

The girls gets on a bus, inserts her change, and sits down in the last empty seat. All these people know where they're going, she thought. And I . . . don't.

She reaches into her backpack, through the dirty and clean clothes carelessly intermingled, and pulls out a grease stained map. This bus is going north. Not as good as west, but better than east.


The girl puts back the map and pulls off her black sweatshirt, the hot pink Greek letters proclaiming the name of a sorority she'll no longer be a part of. It's hot on the bus, and she feels awkward and claustrophobic pressed between people she doesn't know. She shifts in her seat, and the twenty dollar bill in her pocket jabs into her leg, like it's poking her to remind her that it's the last one.


She stares at her nearly-dead phone, and again debates calling home. But she just shuts off the power and slips it into her bag. They don't need to know. Say it enough times, and maybe you'll start to believe it.
And what would she tell them anyways? Where she's going? She doesn't even know. Why she left? She doesn't know that either, exactly. All she knows is that it's cold in New England, and that reading history textbooks doesn't actually make your own life more interesting.


As she zips up her backpack, she smiles, because nothing makes sense. And for the first time, that's perfectly okay.





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