She stood waiting for the bus, annoyed at the others around her who kept craning their necks to see if it was coming. When the bus comes, you’ll know it, she thought. She was in no hurry. Maybe they were.
The bus came and she rode in the single seat by the window, staring out it the whole ride. As they passed the park she noticed a tall tree brimming with huge hot pink flowers. She thought it strange a tree should be blooming so fiercely that close to autumn. The cold was already creeping in after rainy days. But the flowers were there, in all their color, forming a blushing shadow under the tree.
Though that morning, there was no real shadow, as there was no sun. Only grey skies so static and uniform the city looked more like a movie set or a stage backdrop than a real, living place. Only the wind rustling the fallen leaves on the pavement reminded her that it was indeed a real city and her life was not, in fact, a somber indie film with dramatic cinematography and an amorphous plot.
As she got off the bus and started walking home, she was hit with one of those sudden moments of stinging clarity— This is my life. What am I doing? What am I doing here? What have I done?
She didn’t have the answers nor did she want to think about them. She didn’t want to go home but she didn’t want to go any place in particular either. She didn’t want to be alone that day, but she had no choice. She didn’t want to work and she didn’t want to relax. She didn’t know what she wanted, but she knew everything she didn’t. She wasn’t in the mood to ponder the clichéd unanswerables, yet she couldn’t avoid it. She hoped there was some grand meaning to it all, but somewhere in her, someplace deep, nestled, hidden, was the pure and profound knowing there was none.
She got home and set her things down. The house immediately repulsed her, almost physically expelling her. The ghosts of her own self in the countless hours of solitude spent there waited for her at the door. She had to leave, remind herself of the outside world and its realities, of the existence of other people, of street sweepers and bakeries and graveyards, of the whirring colors, the coughs and barks and blaring horns of the city.
She changed her clothes and immediately left again. She’d wander the streets, find a new neighborhood with new murals on the walls. She’d laze in a coffee shop, looking at the other people as they worked. She’d watch a boy with a strange accent switch tables three times. She’d smell the cafe owner chain-smoking on the patio. She’d notice all the details she hadn’t before and maybe have some great insight. She’d ride a random bus line to the last stop and then back again, staring out the window the whole time. She’d stay completely silent, only nodding if asked something by a stranger. She’d go to a bookstore and look at all the books she’d like to read but never would or never would have time to and feel sad about it (but wouldn’t buy a book). She’d think of all her past anxieties and how long she’d suffered and how they’d nauseated her, and about how none of them ever came to fruition, but she’d find new things to worry about anyway. She’d scratch off her nail polish while waiting for another bus, making up stories in her head about everyone craning their necks, where they each were going to and coming from.
She’d smoke cigarettes under the tree with the pink flowers, sitting there so long the falling petals would cover her hair and eyes and skin. Soon the weight of that descending rosy shadow would put out her 335th cigarette and smother her. She’d sit there still, all of autumn and winter until spring with the hope that a new sapling would sprout out of her, use her withering body to make strong bark and roots. She’d stay until late summer when she’d bloom ferocious and grand, with no worries, no thoughts at all, casting her bright petals onto the lonesome girl crouching beneath her.