An Old Woman At The Bus Depot

bus depot

When the old woman put her bag down in front of the door out to the bus garage, I took my place behind her with my bag. Being one of the first to stand in line meant that I could pick a seat at the front end of the bus where there would be a plug-in for my computer.

The old woman told me about visiting one of her three sisters. The two others were doing poorly, one more than the other, and she was bothered by her not having been able to see them. She kept shaking her head when she mentioned her eldest sister.

"She's 85, you know, and she hasn't felt well since last fall. Nothing big, just little things, but again and again, you know." She made a revolving motion with her fingers pressed together like they were holding a pencil.

She looked past me at the far wall while she spoke. Her eyes darted away when we looked at each other.

She had chosen last weekend to visit the graves of her parents with the one sister who was well. There was a religious ritual involved that she accentuated with a loose crossing motion of her hand when she mentioned it. I nodded as though I understood what she meant. The ritual had been cancelled due to rain, but she and her sister had insisted that their nephew circle the graveyard to get a look at the headstones from the car. She still missed her mother.

"It's been grey for so long. I haven't been right since, oh, when was it? September? Maybe October," she said. "I'm not sick, I'm not sad. I'm just, I don't know. You get like that, but this is something else, you know."

I noticed how her eyeliner was smudged and that she made the soft sound with her dentures that my great aunt used to make when she bit into yielding food.

"There's just something, you know. I don't know. I'm not sick, I'm not sad."

"The sun will be out again soon," I said. I didn't know what else to say. I tried to sound hopeful.

"Look at that," she said. "There's the bus driver."

The bus driver took our tickets and we boarded. I sat in my prized spot with the electrical outlet and plugged in, and she found a woman she recognized from her family's church to share a seat with.

I felt vaguely guilty about my relief and fell asleep before we even hit the city limits.

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