July 1, 2015

The One With the Bus Ride.


I hear the bus’ announcing sigh and run down the apartment building stairs and through the gate to catch it. As I reach the sidewalk, it groans and begins ambling away. That’s alright; there’s another one in fifteen minutes. I’m not in a hurry.

I reach the stop, and the bus halts with a puff. They’re waiting. I hop up the steps, thank the driver, pay him my fare, and take a window seat about halfway in the bus. 

There are no more tellers on the bus. Most people use prepaid cards nowadays. If you're going to insist on paying cash, you have to hand over the fare to the driver who has a makeshift till next to him.

What if money weren't a tangible thing, rather numbers in a cloud? What would the pros and cons of that be? You couldn't be mugged as easily. Right?

The bus creaks and screeches, waddles and halts. It’s relatively empty at 10:30am, and I have gotten on on the first stop. My spot is secluded, behind the raised seats in the middle, but I can hear well. I can hear the little chatterbox sitting on the row to my right a few seats to the front.  

He’s about five and is going on about pet habitats and terrariums—“And then, mommy, the children can mist the chameleon, if they want….” He goes on and on, conversing better than many adults…better than me.

Outside, we reach a roundabout where a municipality truck is watering the city lawns. At a nearing bus stop two sisters in ankle length skirts hand out religious tracts. Next door parents are gathered outside a preschool.


Inside, the seats dip and rise along with the bumps in the road, and the bus smells like morning routines of  lotion, shampoo and perfumes mingled with wafts of a bonfire outside.

Every time the doors open someone gets in, handing over change or tapping cards in a series of beeps. Nobody is getting off. We're all waiting until we reach downtown. 

With every curve and bend around street corners the bus pops, and I'm relatively certain it's going to tip over. How would one get out of a tipped bus? Would it hurt? Why don't we have seatbelts?

I immediately survey the emergency exit windows closest to me and begin formulating a plan. Who would I help out of the bus? The one in the most need first, but who shows signs of life. 

My palms have begun sweating, and I focus on the graffiti outside instead, recognizing the city's regular artists—"o anjinho" (the little angel) and "Jô Love". We need more street art.

Someone presses the button letting the driver know they’d like to get off. The bus stops, and an influx of passengers ascend. The chatterbox leaves, talking the entire time and barely pausing to concentrate on the descending steps.

A phone rings, and one of the new passengers—a lady in her early sixties—sits next to me. “Licença.”

We’re crossing the train tracks; we're almost there. Firefighting recruits congregate outside a red building waiting for their course to begin, and we've stopped at a light.

Green. The bus rattles on and reaches the terminal—the end of the line.


Mogi das Cruzes, SP

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