MacNab Transit Terminal
I was ten years old when I sat down with my father and a blank piece of paper and tried to calculate exactly how many hours I spend walking to school in a year – I’m twenty now and the memory crosses my mind as I step onto the first bus and ask myself, “how many hours do I spend on this bus?” – hours spent waiting, wondering, wishing – that the ride will end – that the ride won’t end
The first bus is overcrowded with students – like a wallet, fat with money to pay the bills and receipts to remember the first movie you saw together and an extra bus ticket in case you’re out of change and a three-year-old photo strip from the photo booth in the mall you always went to in the town you grew up and a driver’s license to flash at people who want to know if you’re old enough
There are backpacks stuffed with The Iliad – textbooks that explain nuclear magnetic resonance – rolled up paintings that stop the zipper from zipping all the way – slightly crumpled copies of the school paper – a polka-dot printed scarf from my mother in case it gets chilly – and a camera around the neck for those who wonder if everything around them is actually beautiful or if they just have bad taste
I hold onto the rail tightly, shifting my feet so I don’t fall over
I stare out the window and I feel dizzy
I find a seat on the second bus.
Beside a man who mutters to himself and smells like burnt paper.
I can’t make out the words. But he has a red hat that looks remarkably similar to the one I knit for my father in the fourth grade.
Where will this bus take him?
There’s a girl waiting at the next stop. She’s beautiful with autumn-gray eyes and blonde hair and looks like the girl who sat next to me in Canadian Drama the other day. She smells like baby powder.
I help her lift her carriage onto the bus. A baby with the same striking gray eyes looks into my own eyes and smiles. My insides clench somehow.
I have the kind of unsettled feeling you might get when a baby smiles or laughs during a funeral procession. Still laughing when the casket is carried. Then some more when it’s dropped.
Where will this bus take them – mother and child?
It’s ten in the morning and I see boys with tattoo-covered arms fiddling with a lighter and they smell faintly of alcohol.
Where will this bus take them?
I inhale sharply. The gray-eyed-girl leans against a rail and sighs in relief.
I get off at a stop. Any stop.
My body feels as though it’s been flipped on its backside in midair – and my arms, my legs, my fingers – they are all floating away. One by one, knots unraveling and strings snapping.
My heart beats so fast that I’m certain it will grow wings and beat faster and faster and louder and louder until I’m flying. I don’t fly. I remain exactly where I am.
I feel a stillness in my chest and the world goes quiet and the leaves fall as though in slow motion.
I long for snow.
I long for an unmarked, white sheet of snow to blanket this city.
Where am I?
I catch the next bus.
Bahar Orang, Assistant ANDY Editor