SHADOWS SASHA PERRY
LINES OF RED AND YELLOW AND GREEN PAINT ON THE GLASS WINDOW. BILL IS A PAINTER AND DOES NOT EVEN KNOW IT. REFLECTIONS OF REFLECTIONS GLARE, ANGRY AT THE INTERRUPTION IN THEIR SECRET WORLD. GLASS RATTLES, PLANNING AN ESCAPE. WHITE SHADOWS, AS GHOSTS, DANCE IN AND OUT OF SIGHT; NOTICED, BUT NOT NOTED. 9:04 on the dot, pulling up to the blue bench. “Good evening, Bill.” I tried to remember how I knew his name. I searched through my compartment file of memories. He wore the same denim-‐colored polo with khakis nearly every time I saw him. Sometimes, his receding hairline was masked with a plain black baseball cap, so worn that you could see the white material peeking out of the corners of the bill. I racked my brain for a potential name-‐tag, maybe his name on a lunch bag? Nothing came to my mind. Maybe his name was not even Bill. Perhaps it was James and he is just too shy to correct me. Maybe I asked him his name? No, Bill never answered my questions. I would remember if he had. Bill sometimes smiled in response, but he rarely said anything in return. He spoke in low whispers, trying to form phrases that became awkward masterpieces. Generally, a polite head nod was his retort. Despite his general apprehension towards conversation, he was the timeliest man. Every night, at precisely 9:04, a bright number “42” penetrated the night, Bill’s folded face mismatched right below.
After the three hefty steps and a “good evening, Bill,” I assumed my regular position in the middle window seat, right side. The blue bench turned into a blue haze. The emergency exit was comforting. Not that I thought that I would ever need to use it, but the thought that someone put it there, just for people like me, was nice. It was as if I had a new friend out in a distant world that I would never know. That guy must really care. Bill was not a very cautious driver. I would often lose myself in a mirage of braided lights, only to be snapped back into the desert when Bill comes to a sudden stop. A jolt would bring me to the world inside. No one ever rode this late. He had to stop though, and he had a schedule to keep. Although no one ever rode this late, Bill would make sure he always stopped, just to be safe. Bill’s quick stops made me carsick. At least if I did anything other than look out the window. I never listened to music while I rode. I would fall asleep and miss my stop. Bill even knew which stop was mine, it was the same for the last 83 days, but he could not wake me up, even though I was the only one there. I made that mistake once. It is not that Bill was rude or impolite, he was just shy. I sometimes caught Bill talking to himself under his breath. Every time it happened, I felt an emptiness. The wrinkles on his face exposed his age. He could not be less than 70. I always wondered if Bill had someone to talk to. A wife maybe. I always forgot to check for a wedding ring. I guess I hoped he had a wife so he did not have to talk to himself all of the time. My brother would always talk to himself in grade school. He didn’t have friends, so he would talk to himself. I suppose everyone talks to themselves in some way. It’s not that Bill or my brother were crazy, it just that they were empty. I would tease my brother for talking to himself. Maybe if I had talked to him, he would not talk to himself. The ride was 35 minutes long every time. No more or less, although some days felt longer than others. The nights that Bill talked to himself felt longer. I would try to talk to Bill, to no avail. I would ask how the night had been, or if he had any plans for the weekend. No response. I would count the lights that passed by to distract myself, but they all ended up glaring into one constant stream of white. If I leaned my head against the window just right, I could see a reflection of the back of my
If I leaned my head against the window just right, I could see a reflection of the back of my head, mirroring the back of my head. I would pretend it was someone else-‐ another rider. Someone mysterious, riding the late night bus back into town after spending a long day in the city. This woman was posh, mysterious. The whole thing would be more realistic if the back of my hair was not in a constant state of awkward waves. This mysterious woman was who Bill would talk to on those long nights. They would talk about everything: the monotony of driving between Nampa and Boise, how weird it was that Sasha sat in the same seat every time, how annoying the window rattling was. At times, I felt guilty for looking in on their conversation, till I realize I was really talking to myself. The red emergency exit handle that clamped to an attachment on the window clanked with the movement of the wheels. The noise did not seem safe. It seemed as though the window were protecting the outside from the storm inside. The only way I could stop the noise was if I leaned my head against the window really hard-‐ hard enough to make my head hurt. Sometimes, I would find little balled up pieces of paper stuck in the clasp, causing the clanking to be less of a clatter and more of a bluster. As the night would pass on, I watched the cars pass on. I would try to catch the driver’s eyes. Their eyes looked forward into the blackness, as if to look for ghosts of people they once knew. A drowning glow, a slave to the dusk, dances into the midnight, never to be remembered again. “Good evening, Bill.” 9:39 on the dot, pulling up to the blue bench.
LINES OF RED AND YELLOW AND GREEN PAINT ON THE GLASS WINDOW. BILL IS A PAINTER AND DOES NOT EVEN KNOW IT. REFLECTIONS OF REFLECTIONS GLARE, ANGRY AT THE INTERRUPTION IN THEIR SECRET WORLD. GLASS RATTLES, PLANNING AN ESCAPE. WHITE SHADOWS, AS GHOSTS, DANCE IN AND OUT OF SIGHT; NOTICED, BUT NOT NOTED.