Silver Bus A short story
9:43. Just a little over fourteen hours. I just need to repeat the same day I've lived out for the past 16 years for fourteen more hours. The laundry hangs on the line and I pick the pins out of the shoulders. Soon it will be too cold to hang laundry like this. Soon it will not matter because I will not be here to liberate the shirts and sheets and little blue dresses from their wooden clamps. My hands will be free to shake without aim. Soon this feeling in my stomach will go away.
9:43. Just over twelve hours. I just need to cook ten more sausages and scramble ten more eggs. The hungry mouths spit demands at me. They unabashedly air their grievances. The eggs are too cold. No one likes wheat toast. This one got a bigger piece of sausage than that one. Why can't we afford the good orange juice? The seem to hit me and roll. My eyes turn in their direction, but I do not see them. They have never seen me. Soon my mornings will be silent. Soon I will drink my coffee in a comfy chair, allowing the gentle morning sunshine to wrap me like a present. Soon I will forget these smells.
9:43. Just over ten hours. I just need to be invisible for ten more hours. The television is blaring out an indiscriminate noise. They keep the volume turned up so loud that no one can hear a single thought inside their head. They are afraid of thoughts. They would rather sit, mouths gaping, staring into a meaningless show, laughing when the pretend people laugh, believing what the talking heads say. Soon I will never say, "Scoot back!" again. Soon I will have silence. Soon I will be able to think.
9:43. Just over eight hours. I just need to be a machine for eight more hours. I sweep the floors despite the constant chaos. Nothing ever comes clean. My mind is vacant and all that is left are vague motor skills and a useless determination. In these parts, determination IS useless. Sweeping my floors, washing my dishes, talking to my husband or children....it all makes about as much sense as standing in a cornfield waiting for my ship to come in. Soon I will wait no longer. Soon I will build my own damn boat.
9:43. Just over five hours. I just need to be overwhelmed for five more hours. Peanut butter coats everything that I own. I am solving for x as I scour for a way to create a solar system. This is the part I don't mind. I like seeing the little furrowed brows, seeing them absorbed into a world of their own creation. Maybe I will miss the chaos. Soon I will find out. Soon I will have time to miss it.
9:43. Just over two hours. I just need to be screaming silently for two more hours. I say the same thing fourteen times and it has no effect. I gather up the wet towels that seem to flop themselves across my floor. I decide to leave the dishes alone. I feel a rough hand grate across the small of my back and I wish that my skin didn't crawl. Soon I will be heard. Soon I will say more with silence than I could ever express in words.
9:43. Just over one hour. I just need to exist for one more hour. After that, I will be alive. I try to pack up some things but decide that I need no reminders of this life. I have my purse. I have pictures of my children. I sit at the kitchen table and look at these pictures. Smiling angels, all of them. Each looking eager and curious and pure. These pictures are how I will remember them. I will remember those baby days when I would prop them up against the backs of my legs and gaze at them. I smiled my deepest smiles for them but somehow that doesn't matter now. There is a part of me that holds on to the idea that I could smile at them like that at this very moment, but it never seems to work. Soon I will let that part of myself die. Soon I will be able to grieve for the person I used to be. Soon I will never forget that I loved so completely once.
9:43. Just around the corner. I have a ticket in my hand and I can see the headlights of that great silver bus. I decide that I will take this one to the end of its line and then take another and another and another. I will stay on silver buses until I am far enough away from this sadness, this frustration to never feel it again. The bus's doors hiss as they swing open and all I have to do is get on. My feet are frozen. Huge sobs seem to ring in my ears and my face feels wet. I am not crying. I am simply trying to get on a bus. I stand with my bag full of pictures and my ambivalence as if carved by a cruel sculptor. I cannot move. I hear the doors of the bus swing and close. I hear the gentle gurgle of the engine and I see the ruby taillights as the bus pulls away. Suddenly, I'm reanimated and I begin my long walk home. I pass the corn fields that I wished were harbors and the clotheslines that I teeter precariously upon. I see my house. Its windows glow warm and there is already a hum of laughter and screams and television sets. Soon I will realize that I am both at home and homeless. Soon I will realize that any idea that I ever had about being a good person was dead wrong. Soon I will realize that only part of me walked away from that big silver bus.