A thing that happened on the bus today
Jackie walks onto the bus carrying a bag full of clothes, mumbling something to herself as she unwads a fistful of bills. She reaches my row and stares down at me until I move to the window seat. “Watch your coat, baby”, she says before sitting, and I move the tail of my raincoat to my lap. A woman gets on at the next stop, but never sits. She stands, beaming in her bucket hat, talking loudly with the driver. “Jill is that you?” Jackie yells from our seats midway down the aisle, spitting through her missing teeth. Looking back, but not at anyone or anything in particular Jill yells “Yeah! It’s me!” and rests her hand back on the driver’s right shoulder. “How are you?!” screams Jackie again, everyone staring now. “I’m good!” Jill squints toward the back of the bus. “Do you even know who you’re talking to?” “No, I don’t know and I don’t care!” Jill swats her hand at the air, and laughs loudly at nothing. “It’s me, Jackie!” “Oh! Jackie! It’s me Jill!” she squints, reaches Jackie, and pulls a single bent cigarette out of the front pocket of her Hawaiian shirt. Jackie takes it and Jill, turning back to the front of the bus yells, “Jack and Jill went up the hill!” “But we aint get no pal of water! Where are you going this early in the morning?” “To the liquor sto’!” Jill releases a big gummy smile and looks around at all the passengers. “It’s a beautiful day!” she yells, throwing a one dollar bill in Jackie’s direction, “a beautiful day!” “You don’t need to be doin’ all that!”, but Jill is turning circles in place, smiling and laughing. The bus comes to its next stop. Jill pats the driver on the back. “Jackie, meet me at the place we fell in love!” she screams as she walks backward down the bus steps. I stare until the top of her head disappears from sight, and we all sit unmoved as she let’s out a scraping whisper “I love you… ALWAYS!” and the bus doors close.