Bus Seats and Bed Sheets

Evan Gilbert

 

I step in a puddle while running to catch the bus; my left sock is wet. One day I’ll buy shoes that don’t have holes.

I drop my wallet. Everything falls out. Credit cards, a condom, movie ticket stubs from when I could afford to watch movies. I pick up the cards. A man, still overdressed, picks up the condom and movie tickets. He hands the tickets back to me, “High School Musical 3, really?”

Riding the bus is like taking a road trip with people you don’t know.

The man with blue eyes and skinny thighs looks at me. I’ll never learn his name, but I’ll learn where he lives. He gets off before I do.

He says he’s here because it’s simpler, and exciting; he can experience the world from a different perspective. I say I’m here because I have to. He smiles. He can do in luxury what I do in necessity.

“I have to take my test. I feel good…I’m still scared,” he says. I ask him to tell me how it goes. I know we’ll never talk again.

A man in a suit walks by, shakes his head. “They always judge us by what we ride,” she says.

I nod, “they judge us by what we do to survive.” The poor ride the bus; the rich ride the poor.

The air is cold. My legs are sore. Some rides are not as good as others. I fall asleep next to a man, and I wake up alone.

An old man sits next to me and talks politics. As I leave, he says, “good luck with the revolution.”

He looks at me once. He tries to avoid eye contact. Another day, another rotating cast of characters. Coming, going, gone—cumming, going, gone.

She falls asleep on my shoulder. I lay my head against the window. I remember how I used to hate when strangers touched me.

The boy tries to talk to me. “I don’t feel right,” I say. “I’m not a morning person.” The clock reads 7:00pm. Some mornings last longer than others. The boy says he understands, says I’ll be better tomorrow. I nod. He’s still here when I wake up.

She was pretty once. Her cheeks are gaunt now; her hair is thin, and her smile is hollow. But I can tell she was pretty once. She tells me her story, and she offers me blueberries. “All I love in life is drugs and gays,” she says. She grabs my hand and tells me that I’m young, that I’m pretty. She was pretty once too.