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Worn and Borrowed

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“Worn and Borrowed”

 He sat alone on the coach bus. The patter of rain on the expansive windows only served to make him feel smaller, more alone. Seat 23-C, window seat, 4th to last seat on the bus. The usual. Rows and rows of empty seats in front of him, looking like the sort of senseless infinity created by facing two mirrors towards each other - and there it was. Sudden, a flash of remembrance. Remembering. It was a great pastime of his. What was it this time? It took a slight effort to decode the flash of data, like trying to recall a dream, although a small bit easier. Cloth, that’s what he remembered. A warm orange color, like the sun on his back. The beach. The day was coming to an end, splashes of pink and yellow against a soft red sky. He couldn’t see the waves; he was staring up at the sky – the orange cloth no longer obstructing his vision – but he could hear it. The easy crash and rumble against the sand…
 And it was gone. The flow and ebb of the waves smoothed out into the soft hum of the bus, gliding across the road. Remembering was painful in an impossibly lovely way. A sudden urge to move, he really needed to move. He got up, walking up and down the aisle of the bus. The bus driver was a longtime friend. Yes, he was. He had given express permission to stop the bus in the middle of its route if he needed air, time in the bathroom past the 15-minute time limit, anything to help a grieving friend. He stretched and automatically made a streamline figure, inflating his chest with air, a reflex from 17 years, 18? 18 years of swimming. Water was like a second home to him, a place to stop thinking, a place to start thinking. He lay down on the seats. He thought about the bus as inhaled the slight odor of leather. The seats luxurious, made with black leather and soft black and white striped furry cloth. Each row only had 4 seats, 2 aisles of 2 seats each. Expensive to be riding every week, but the bus driver was a friend. He was. The floor was made of some faux dark wood, decorated in laughter.
 They were all laughing. The living room was a mess, but it was no matter. What was on the TV? He couldn’t remember. Sun streamed through the window, reflecting off the glass bowl of chips on the table and piles of books. The memory slipped out. He imagined a sort of pink, jellyfish-like fluid flowing between his fingers. Blue was remembered. Blue was between cupped hands, caught, light streaming back and forth, flipping around, joyful. Beautiful.
He was looking at the strip of neon green light, on the edge of the carry-on section. They were on the stairs, too, strips of metal emitting a soft green glow, made brighter by the dark atmosphere of the bus. He was the only one on the bus, the only one who made the entire route. There were very few people who were still on the bus after Boston and New York. If they weren’t gone, then Philadelphia and D.C. were sure to clean them out. And then he was alone, on the long road to Greensboro, North Carolina.
There was only one memory that always seemed to replay, again, and again, and again, as if his subconscious knew it was the hardest to relive. It would come soon, but not yet. Not yet. He sighed, pulling himself up. He looked at the window, or the faint, translucent reflection of himself in the window, rather. Dusty brown hair, sticking up ever so slightly. He had a white cotton undershirt peeking out from behind the unbuttoned top of his blue madras shirt. If you could peer below the window, you would see a pair of corduroys above a pair of worn orange and blue running shoes. He didn’t run anymore.
 He was running. New orange and blue shoes, that he had accidentally put on that morning. His wife, owner of said shoes, was probably heading to work already. He wasn’t a big fan of running, but he had been doing it consistently for the past 2 years as a pastime with her. He had just started out; he was only about 3 blocks from his house. He turned and jumped up and down and almost crossed the street before tying the new shoes. He jumped up and started across the street. The loud noise of a car flew towards him, then a break, then nothing...
 The memory was over. That’s all he had from it. Later he found out the car had hit the brakes, the front hitting a telephone pole and sending the car spinning. It had hit him anyway, possibly damaging him more than it would have had it hit him head-on. The tires had caught onto his feet, along with the new shoes, acting as an anchor to his movement and throwing his head onto the street. And giving him amnesia. He had worn those totaled shoes every day for the past 3 months, after his coma and rehabilitation, of course. He remembered his wife, Ira, more than anything, and they had used her as a starting point to reestablish all of his memories. This was particularly painful, considering she was the one in the car.
 The problem was there was little he could do to remember her, since memories were hard pressed to stay in the mind without reinforcement from the people, events, places in them. He would forget her soon; it was already a struggle remembering she was gone in the morning. He would remember he had to give her shoes back, though. He wouldn’t know why he had to give the shoes back, but he would see the shoes and think that they were worn out, and he would have to get new ones soon, but also that he couldn’t because they were borrowed. Blue, and orange, and worn, and borrowed.

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