The Bus

The bus clattered, like a demented baby rattle. The kind given by your odd-ball uncle, or one to worn over time. Faces wear down turned c’s, eyes all pointed in different directions, avoiding those of the other passengers. The bus jerked to a stop, the ugly glass vase falling and breaking, leaving your insides feeling like the shattered pieces. The woman stepped on, her face crumbling bricks, red and cracked. Her arms are youthful, thin and crease-free, two cigarettes fresh from the pack. Her eyes were dark; they sucked the life from her face, her neck. If you happened to catch her shirtless, you might see the life ebbing away from her chest. She sat, and maybe it was her grim reaper eyes, or the smell, but the man beside her looked away.

The bus driver clicked over the loudspeaker, his voice over-brewed sweet tea, too much lemon and no ice. He warned of an approaching tunnel. Twenty feet long, built in the 80’s, by his grandfather, no less. The tunnel approached, the anticipation of opening a rusty tin can, waiting to see what’s in store. The tunnels gray maw swallowed us. Swallowed the bus. The bus shook, a respirator, puffing breaths of life to the bus, breathing reminders to the living. The tunnels walls spun, tripping acid or tricking time.
The man who turned, he seemed to age spinning through the tunnel. His skin buckled like thin wood that had soaked in water for too long, cracked and growing mushrooms. Wrinkles growing moles, sunspots. The woman, her hand rested on his knee, her stale coffee eyes looked remorseful, the kicked puppy that bit you –mistaking you for another. The creases in her face melted off, sliding down her shoulders, flowing down her cigarette arms, like the pouring rain over a windshield. The old man gasped and wheezed, as if her cigarette arms had given him cancer, and perhaps they had. The tunnel walls began to brighten, time speeding up before the bus flew out of the tunnels gaping mouth. The light encircled the bus, and the old gasping man faded, a silent explosion of black ash, faded. Extinguished. The lady winked; her eyes now youthful, newborn, and alive. The bus creaked again, like the opening rusty tin can, but the anticipation was gone. As if the opened can had contained worms and dirt, treasures forgotten.





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