I pulled the phone out of my pocket. The bus was quiet. 3 A.M to Buffalo. Everyone was asleep save an older man with a newspaper in the back of the bus and the pretty girl with the laptop behind me.
We cruised across the pavement, a cough here, a grunt there, all drowned in the white noise of the air conditioning.
There it was. On the phone. My feet, her feet. A picture I took three years ago. Maybe I forgot to delete it with all the others. No faces, just our lower legs, my shoes, and her sandals at one end of a hammock. I would never know why it popped up. Maybe I had shifted in my sleep and hit a button. It didn’t matter.
I took two seconds to look over the image, and then deleted it. I needed to know that the world was going to forget about her before I could let go. I wanted to be the last person ever to think about her, but I wanted to stop thinking. Cancer had done his dirty work over two years ago, and with that last picture gone, I was hoping her memory was going to disappear as fast as she had.
Expanded version of a Ficly about a bus ride during the holiday season.
I sat back in my chair listening to the fat guy with the shirt advertising “Socrates Plumbing” next to me bark into his phone. The bus rolled down an exit ramp that merged into an empty Route 50 west. East-bound traffic was backed up for miles as people tried to get to their ham dinners in a manner that I just couldn’t help but think looked a lot like fleeing. Fleeing what? I don’t know. Boredom.
It occurred to me that the bus had emptied out significantly since we got underway, but Socrates next to me was, well… still next to me. I sat forward a bit and looked around. There was no one there except for a very middle aged Chinese woman in the first row.
The bus driver had told the fatso a few times to stop using his phone. Finally he started to yell, and I remember the woman up front looking at me nervously. There was a moment of confusion as the man next to me hoisted himself up using the back of the seat in front of him and started heading aggressively towards the front of the bus.
After the accident, when I stepped off the bus, head still spinning, I looked at the damage. An SUV had side-swiped the bus leaving a long streak of broken cargo doors and chipped paint down the side. My suitcase had burst open all over the pavement. Onlookers from the congested side of the highway stared at the bus, my belongings, and me. I felt naked.
I looked down the road at the silhouette of the destroyed car that had been speeding along the wrong side of the road and wondered if it was all just another symptom of the holiday season.