The bus is late again, and this bench keeps feeling colder ever minute. It kind of reflects the color of the sky; that nasty kind of brownish-gray that means the weather’s going downhill fast. It’s that kind of day where I don’t feel altogether, like every particle in me is slightly separate. It feels like I could be blown away by a soft breeze, by the wind from a passing car into billions of separate, shining particles, like a poorly built sand castle hit by an ocean breeze. I just… I don’t feel right today, slightly off keel. I guess it makes sense given everything that’s happened this week.
It wouldn’t surprise me if it rained soon. In fact, I think those are storm clouds in the distance. Who knows, it could always snow too; it’s definitely cold enough out here. Odds are if the weather does much of anything, the bus is going to be even later.
God, bad weather plus all the ice already on the ground; I don’t think it’s possible for the bus to have worse conditions. It’s like they take more time to get from place to place every time I need them.
Screw it; at least it’ll give me some time to think about how I’m going to explain all this shit to my parents. How am I going to tell them I flunked out of school? While I figure out how I drop a bomb like that on them, I’ve also got to tell them how I got their car stolen.
Jim is going to flip out. What kind of stepfather would be if he didn’t? He’ll probably cut off the cash flow, and kick me out of the house. Mom will try to stop him but he’ll just yell at her, and she’ll run out of the room crying. Then he’ll say something like “God damn it! Look whatcha ya did!” followed by “Dumbass!” Sometime after that he’ll just end up calling me a “fuck up and a pussy” for not defending myself because he’s right, and of course, for being a fuck up. In the end he’ll storm out, get smashed, and come back in the morning not remembering what got him going in the first place. Somebody, probably Mom, will end up reminding him, but this time he won’t fly into a rage; he’ll just cut me off completely and insult my manhood.
I could always just kill myself; it would at least distract from everything I’ve screwed up so far. Jim might be able to forget about the car, and even if he didn’t he wouldn’t be able to do anything to me, and he sure as hell wouldn’t do anything to Mom.
Then again, I don’t really know if Mom could handle my death along with everything else that’s happened. I mean, it’s only been a year or two since Ray died, and she’s hardly holding herself together now. God knows what she might do if she lost both of us. Ever since he died, everything has gone downhill. Mom absolutely fell apart, Dad left and drank himself to death shortly afterward, and she then met Jim, he was just somebody to fill the gap. Neither of them will admit it, but they both know it. There’s no real love in that relationship. It’s like Ray was the stitching that held the family together, and now that he’s gone it’s in tatters.
He never showed any signs. He was never depressed, and he always seemed so much more alive than the rest of us. Ray never looked like he got down or really upset about much at all. Then again, that could have just been my view as a younger brother, who knows. Still, it seemed like everybody else was just as surprised as me, if not more. So, I don’t know, maybe I should just follow in his footsteps, I’ve always been a fan of poetic endings. All I need is a bottle of pills, or something I can tie, maybe a car. Wait, never mind, I got that stolen.
I know it’s not that great an idea, but Christ! I don’t think I could’ve messed up any more. This all could’ve been avoided if I’d just done my term paper on time. I wouldn’t have left the car unlocked, rushing to get it in before the deadline, and still end up getting it in a little too late. That old bastard could’ve accepted it if he wanted too. Fuck him.
No, that’s wrong. This could’ve all been avoided if I’d told Izzy’s asshole Dad to go fuck himself; that I’m going to ask her to marry me whether he likes it or not. He probably would’ve just kicked my ass if I’d said that, but it might’ve been worth it. I mean, I think I could take a beating from him, for Izzy, at least. I more than owe her that. Then again, maybe I owe her a life free of me. The least I could do for how good she’s been to me is to take away the weight I’ve been putting on her shoulders for years now. She doesn’t deserve that. She’s a saint, and all I seem to be able to do is test her sainthood, to see if she actually has a breaking point. Still, she continues to pass every test with flying colors, and act oblivious and I do too because I’m never aware of it. It just seems like every day shit that I can’t avoid, but I know that’s not how it is. It’s as if I can’t bring myself to believe that someone so good could exist. I need to stop, I need to get a hold of myself; get my head straight. I need to take a step forward, start taking responsibility for what I do. Christ, I need to stop blaming it on life. I can at least do that for her. I can at least keep her from having to pick up my messes. When I think back, that’s all the last five years have been.
I could do it; take myself away from her, and lift the weight so she can begin living again. There are only two ways in my mind to do that though. I could leave her, or I could kill myself. Still, there really is only one option there. I could never bring myself to be cruel enough to tell her that I no longer want to see her, and watch her become miserable. It wouldn’t be right. I mean, it defeats the purpose of all this. I want to keep from hurting her, but I can’t do that with either option. I guess suicide would at least be better for me, because then I wouldn’t have to see how hurt she is, and I suppose that’s better than leaving her and actually having to see the pain. God… Can I do it, though?
I never really have been all that afraid of death in and of itself. It’s always felt like more of a release from everything, all my problems, than an end to life. It’s always been a kind of escape hatch in life. It’s like I’ve been running from something my whole life, and tripping up the whole time, snagging my foot on proverbial roots and branches, and all the while it’s gotten closer and closer, gaining distance, closing the gap. And now it’s on me, but there’s a crevice within distance. I know I can make the jump to the other side, but the thing is catching me fast enough that it I know it would catch me on the other side, and I’d be done, so I’ve got to choose between certain or almost certain death. I choose almost certain, so I jump into the crevice, into something I know nothing about. I jump and then… and then I don’t know. I just know it can be better than the present, that there’s at the very least the possibility that everything could be okay. So I take it, not really knowing, just hoping. I plummet into that blackness, or what I assume is blackness because I don’t have the courage to look. I just shut my eyes tight, because my decision frightens me; I don’t want to view death for fear of what it could be.
God, I don’t even know how I’d go about committing suicide. I would probably find some way to mess it up on the off chance that I did actually think of some way to go about it. I don’t know… Maybe if it snows, I could jump in front of a car before it could stop. No, I might just end up paralyzing myself, it’s too risky.
Izzy would be absolutely distraught if I did it anyway, it would be no better than breaking up with her, in fact it would be worse on her, and defeat the purpose of what I’m doing. Then again, maybe if I just hurt her one last time, if I just test her one last time, it might be okay. It would be better than putting her through a lifetime of this shit. Then again, she does love me, and who am I to deprive anyone of love. I really don’t know what she sees in me, but she sees something, and I’d be a fool to throw the only good thing I’ve got away. Then again, she doesn’t seem like she’s been very happy lately, and she’s got enough pressure from her family and friends to get rid of me, that it might do her some good if I was out of her life.
The sky keeps getting darker, it’s going to rain. God, I hope it doesn’t; I can’t be late for my interview tonight. I need some good news to bring home, please let me somehow get this job. There’s still an outside chance, at least. Besides, Izzy had to bend over backwards to get this interview. I mean, her Dad already doesn’t like me, so why would he want to interview me, let alone give me a job? If I don’t make it, it may just give him enough sway with her to dump me, and I don’t think I can take that right now. Then again, maybe it would be for the best. She would be rid of me, and I wouldn’t have broken her heart, well, not directly at least, and I’d still be alive. I think that may be the best idea. Still, what would I do without her? She’s my sole reason for getting out of bed most mornings. Christ! I don’t know! Going back and forth like this is getting me absolutely nowhere, but what else am I supposed to do?
It would be appropriate, though. They say good things always come in three’s, so why not bad things? I mean, first I flunk out of school, then the car my parents gave me gets stolen, and the last straw would be Izzy leaving me. It would be perfect, poetic.
The more I think about it, the more just leaving everything behind sounds appealing, and what better way to do that than just offing myself? If I did it, I’d be out of the picture, and everyone else would be a lot happier. I think I’m going to do it. Fuck the interview. I’m just going to get on whichever bus strikes me, and get off on whichever stop does the same. From there, I’m going to find the nearest body of water, and walk in and drown, like Virginia Woolf.
“Hello” where did that come from? “Is anyone sitting here?” Whoever she is, she has a beautiful voice. She’s probably gorgeous.
Ah… I don’t think I’ve ever hit anything as dead on as this. She’s… just… wow. “Oh, sure… Here, I’ll just move my things”
Huh, no reply? Well, it goes perfectly with how today’s been so far, and how it’s going to end, if I can actually pull this off.
Oh, who am I kidding? I can’t kill myself, let alone do it in a way like drowning. I don’t even like Virginia Woolf. What am I thinking? Christ…
Huh, I guess I was wrong. “Hm? Oh, I’ve got an interview”
“Oh really? What for?”
“My fianc?e got me an interview with her father; he’s a partner at one of the law firms downtown. I’m pre-law… well, I was. Anyway, so we, my fianc?e and I, I mean, thought it would be good experience for me to see how it works and everything. How about you?” Nice one, way to let her know you’re taken. God, I’m a moron.
“Wow, that’s really very cool. I’m on my way to class.” “What do you mean you were pre-law? Did you switch your major, or something? It’s really none of my business, I know, and you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. I’m just kind of curious, I suppose.”
“It’s okay, don’t worry about it. But I… well; I kind of flunked out of school.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. I mean, I’ve heard pre-law is very hard. I wouldn’t know though, I’m an art major”
“I don’t really think it’s all too hard, I just wasn’t organized at all, and some things happened that kind of distracted me from my work.”
“Well, sometimes things like that can happen to the best of us.”
“Um, sorry to interrupt, but if you don’t mind my asking, why are you going to an interview in a law firm if you flunked out of school? You know what? Disregard that, it was very rude. I’m so sorry”
“No, it’s fine. Izzy, my fianc?e, sorry, I should’ve told you that. Kind of stupid of me to expect you to know who that is right off the top of your head. Anyway, sorry, she got me the interview before I flunked out, and I haven’t quite gotten around to telling her. Once I do, I’m pretty sure she’ll leave me” Damn it, you’re dumping all this shit on her that she doesn’t want to hear. Come on!
“That’s terrible! I’m sure she won’t leave you. And, anyway, it’s just school, you can always get into another one, right?”
I guess I was wrong; maybe she actually cares for some reason. I don’t know, though. She’s so strange. No, strange isn’t the right word. She’s just kind of different. I feel like I could tell her anything.
“Yeah, I could, but it just wouldn’t be worth it, ya know? I mean, I don’t even like law that much. I’m really only doing to get on her Dad’s good side. He’s one of those really traditional fathers. You know, the kinds who make you ask their permission before you ask their daughter to marry you, or even before he’ll let her date you.”
“Well, I’m sure he must like you if you got his permission to marry his daughter. He can’t be that bad.”
“No, he’s a bastard. Oh, sorry for the language, I’m just not in a very good mood and sometimes things like that slip out. I’m really sorry.”
“Please, don’t worry about it, it’s fine. Where I come from cursing is a pretty common thing to hear.”
“I was going to ask where you were from. You didn’t sound like you were from around here, more like England or Australia, or somewhere like that.”
“I’m originally from Whales, but I moved here when I was eighteen to go to college.”
“Wow, I’ve never actually met anyone from the UK, why didn’t you go to a school there?”
God, it’s gotten so cold out here. Where the hell is the bus!? This is killing me, I’m already late; I don’t need to miss it altogether. That might actually make things worse.
Huh, she hasn’t answered my question yet. Why’s she pausing like this? Maybe I should say something…
“Oh! Sorry, I was trying to figure out what to say. I was going to tell you something along the lines of wanting to see your great country, and a bunch of trash about getting the multi-cultural experience, but I thought I’d tell you the truth.”
“That would be the simple fact that I just wanted to get away from home… I couldn’t take another year of that place.”
“Huh… you know, up until this point, I’ve never admitted that to anyone, but you strike me as the kind of person I can actually talk to. I’m sorry if I’m weirding you out talking like this… but it’s true.”
“No, it’s fine. It’s really kind of refreshing to talk to someone that’s honest. An honest person is a pretty uncommon thing these days. People are always trying to use you for something, or spare you some pain that they think the truth would bring you, but I’m to the point where I’ll take whatever comes to me as long as it’s true.”
“Well, I’ll try to be as truthful I can with you then.”
“Thanks, it’ll be very much appreciated.”
“So, now that we’re being honest with each other, I’d like to know what exactly you will do when your fianc?e’s father finds out about all of this”
“Oh, come on. What happened to honesty?”
“I just really don’t know if I should tell you, I mean, you might think I’m crazy”
“Don’t worry, you can tell me. I promise not to judge you.”
“Well, okay… I was…” Shit, I can’t say it; I can’t drop a bomb like that on this girl. She’s too good. She’s been far too good to me to tell her something like that. But then I’d be lying to her, and not only that, but I’d be breaking that pact of honesty we just made.
“I… I was planning on killing myself. There you go. Happy? I’m just that fucked up.”
“No, you’re just obviously not thinking very rationally, it’s okay. I do think it’s a little extreme, though?”
“See, I knew you’d judge me… I suppose I deserve it though. I’m probably just blowing this whole thing out of proportion”
“I don’t mean to judge, it’s just that you are blowing things out of proportion, and I’m going to try to talk you out of it because you are far and away the most sociable and interesting American I have yet to meet in my two years here. However, if you were to commit suicide, which you shouldn’t, you should do it like Virginia Woolf; her way has always kind of struck me as the most, I don’t know, let’s say dramatic way to go about it.”
“What? I’m serious! This isn’t a laughing matter! If you’re going knock yourself off, at least do it with style.”
“No, I wasn’t laughing at the idea, I was laughing at the fact that I was thinking that exact thing just before you came and sat down.”
“Oh really? That’s rather odd… Not the idea, at least as far as suicides go. I mean the fact that we both thought it. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. You still shouldn’t do it; there are plenty of reasons to live.”
“Oh yeah? Name one that I haven’t fucked up.”
“Well, there’s always your fianc?e, whom I assume you love, but for some reason the pain it would cause her didn’t occur to you. There’s also your mother and father, both of whom I’m sure love you, and all of your friends, who care for you a great deal as well, I’m sure.”
“I don’t know, maybe you’ve got a point, but I’m really going to need to think things over. I mean, really think things through, get my priorities in order, and all that… you know?”
Oh my God, the bus is actually coming; I was honestly beginning to think it never would. Well, it makes sense that it would come now, right when I’m in the middle of a great conversation. I was even forgetting how cold it is out here.
Wait, that’s not the right bus. Son of a bitch… At least I don’t have to end the conversation.
“Well, here comes my bus… It’s really been very nice talking to you”
Damn it! More sitting in the cold for me, I guess.
“You too, and thank you for the conversation… I was going to do something incredibly stupid.”
“Don’t worry about it, you’ll do just fine. We all think silly things occasionally… just don’t follow through with them, and I’m sure you’ll end up perfectly alright.”
Wow, I told her that I was going to kill myself, and she’s treating it like I’m some high school kid that just got dumped.
“Well, good-bye, and good luck in school, I’ll make sure to keep an eye out for your art.”
Wow, that ice is rough. Then again, maybe she wouldn’t have fallen if she wasn’t wearing heels.
“Are you alright? You’ve really got to watch these sidewalks; the ice can be kind of slippery.”
That was a pretty nasty fall, I hope she’s alright.
“I’m so, so sorry, really. I really hate to be rude, but I’ve got to catch my bus. It’s been very nice talking to you; hopefully we’ll see each other again.”
“Yeah... Well, good luck with everything.”
Well, there she goes. I’ll probably never see her again. That’s a shame. I think she’s just about the only person who could’ve talked me out of it. She didn’t even say anything all that profound; it was how she said it. It was that look she had, and her eyes. Her eyes were insane. They were deepest green eyes I’ve ever seen. I wanted to jump into those emerald colored pools and never, ever come up for air. I’d walk into them like Virginia Woolf, only I wouldn’t die. I would feel more alive than when I went it. I could live in those eyes. It wasn’t just her eyes, though. She had it all: eyes, hair, skin, everything. I didn’t think angels frequented bus stops.
I can’t just let her go. I need to know her name. Surely, they’ll let me on the bus just for a second to ask her that. They’ve got to.
I’ve got to get moving before the bus leaves. I can’t let it go; I can’t let her just come into my life and change it like this, and then just go. That’s not right, that’s not fair.
Oh… thank God, the bus door is still open. I’ve got to hurry though. She’ll be gone in a matter of seconds.
That sidewalk is practically covered in ice. Screw it, I don’t care; I’ve got to make it. I’ll run, and if I fall, I’ll just get back up and keep running for the door.
Thank God, I made it. That sidewalk almost killed me. It’s no wonder she fell, hell, I don’t know how I didn’t.
God that bus driver is ugly; I can’t tell if it’s a man or a woman. Then again, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an attractive bus driver. I guess that must be a job requirement.
“Excuse me, a young lady just got on this bus, and I need to ask her a question really quick.”
“Huh? Well, I’m sure you can ask her, but you’ll need to pay the fare to get on just like everybody else.”
“What!? But I’m not going to ride the bus! I just need to ask her a question, that’s all.”
“Well, that’s just too bad. This is Greyhound, not some freakin’ charity, alright there guy?”
“Fine, whatever. I’ll pay the fare, just a second.”
What a bitch… well, I guess I don’t really have a choice, and anyway, these people’ve got to be pretty pissed with me holding up the bus like this.
What the hell!? Where’s my wallet? No way! No way! I had it earlier today; I don’t think I left it anywhere. Hold on… oh, this is bullshit. I thought it took her awhile to get back up after she fell, and she did fall into me. Damn… She couldn’t have, she seemed way too good for that. She seemed really genuine, what the hell!?
“Um… I guess not. I still need to talk to that woman though. She stole my wallet, and I need to get it back. Please, just let me go get it from her.”
“Nope, not gonna happen. Either pay or get off my bus; I got a schedule to keep.”
Well, there goes the bus, and all my money, and credit cards, and identification, and well, basically my life. And there she is. What’s she doing? What’s she mouthing?
Well, I guess this puts me right back to where I was a half our ago. The bus still isn’t here, and I’m freezing.
© Copyright 2016 Jack Flagberry. All rights reserved.
Short Story / Literary Fiction
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Short Story / Literary Fiction
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