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WHITE

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.    


White shadows2