Press "Enter" to skip to content

Tag: 2014


I met a woman on the bus. It was a Tuesday in the middle of May. The bus was hot, the air-conditioning off and the windows open. It was crowded, people standing. I sat next to her when a man got up to leave. Her hair was dark with auburn highlights. She had a lunch bag in her lap. She was on her way to work at the sales office on the 36th floor of the big square building I’d taken pictures of the summer I came as a tourist, before I moved here. It was always too cool in the building, she’d say. She was glad the bus was hot, that she could sit by the open window and feel the warm spring breeze.

We’d have lunch together at the little park by the square building. We’d eat at the Thai food cart and discover that we both liked our coffee black, that we liked it later in the day, never in the morning. We’d meet again at the library and share our love of tea cozy mysteries and British detectives. She’d encourage me to write, and three years later she’d be the first to see my acceptance letter and the check that came with it. We’d celebrate at a bistro we’d never eaten at before, where neither of us liked the food, but we’d laugh and buy chocolate on the way back to the bus stop.

Five years later I’d sell my first novel. I’d dedicate the book to her and she’d show it to all her friends. I’d have changed jobs by then, moved to a nearby city. We wouldn’t see each other as often, though we’d always spend Thanksgiving and Christmas together. I’d bring my dog, she’d bring her collection of Miss Marple DVDs. She’d have retired by then. We’d text each other every afternoon, me to share my secret doubts, and she to talk about the birds she fed from her kitchen window. I’d take pictures of the birds. She’d tell me that everyone had doubts, that everyone was afraid sometimes, and that it only meant I was human, and that I should keep writing.

I’d meet someone and fall in love, only to have my heart broken, and resign myself to being alone. She’d be diagnosed with cancer, and move in with me. She’d teach me how to knit, and I’d show her how to write. I’d never make anything more complicated than a hot mitt, and she’d never write anything more moving than a few lines about birdseed, but we’d make a home together. I wouldn’t remember when I’d started calling her Mom. She’d die ten years later, at the age of eighty-six.

That day I saw her on the bus, I sat down next to her. I glanced at her, sidelong. She looked so motherly, like someone I’d want to know. I was shy. I said hello. She didn’t hear me. She didn’t see me. She stood up.

It was her stop. She got off the bus.

November 27, 2014

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, the content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.