Strangers On A Bus

The bus slowly pulls up to the bus stop and adjusts into park. The doors shoot open and the bus driver stares back at me.

“Swipe your card please.”

The bus drivers words only partially jolt me from my daze. Robotically, my hand pulls out my bus card and swipes it on the credit card reeder. I take my first step down the aisle and raise my eyes to scan for an open seat. I see one at the back of the bus and make my way over to it. It’s an aisle seat next to a young woman. I slide into the seat and settle in. The young woman looks up at me with fire in her eyes.

“Can you sit somewhere else?”

Surprised by her statement, I stare back at her, both embarrassed and offended.

“This is the only open seat.” I wait for her response.

“Well I’ve had a really bad day so I don’t feel like sitting next to anyone.” Did she really just say that to me?

I can feel heat rising from my chest and kissing my neck.

“You’ve had a bad day? I just got done working an 18 hour shift and would really like to sit down a rest my feet.”

“Fine.” She turns her head back forward and drops it into her hands.

I watch her and realize for the first time that this young woman has obviously been crying. Tears continue to fall from her face and she swipes her finger across her check to quickly dry them. Maybe I judged her too quickly.

“Are you ok?” I wait for her response.

“No, I lost my best friend today.” More tears fall. I pause, not sure if I should pry.

“What happened?”

“She was in a car accident a few weeks ago. I really thought she would pull through.”

I realize that her friend has died and a rock builds in my stomach. I feel terrible that I snapped at her before.

“I’m so sorry.” She nods and continues to stare forward.

“I lost my sister three years ago.” She straightens when she hears me say this and I can tell she wants me to continue.

“She was sick for a long time, but it didn’t make it any easier losing her.” A tear falls down my face as I think of her. Neither of us talk for a while, both stuck in our own thoughts. She takes a deep breath and dries her tears once more.

“How did you get through it?” She is looking directly at me now, desperation in her eyes.

“I guess I never really did get through it. There are still times that I think of my sister and my heart aches. I go on dates and all I want to do after is call my sister and tell her about them. I don’t think that will ever completely go away, but as time goes on, it gets easier to also think of my sister and smile. I smile when I think about how funny she was or how much she loved animals. The good memories start to outshine the bad.” I’m not really sure if she is understanding what I am trying to say so I look up to meet her eyes. She stares back at me with her wet eyes. Her eyes are still sad, but I also see a hint of hope. The right corner of her mouth pulls up, showing a small smile.

The bus pulls to a stop as we arrive at my stop and I stand to leave. I look back at her one more time and give her an encouraging smile.

“It will get better.” She nods her head and smiles back at me.

“Thank you.”

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