From Tracie: Reflections In Bus Windows

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Reflections In Bus Windows

The first thing I notice about the woman sitting across from me on is the tattoo winding around her foot. It starts by her toes, where her dark stockings are laddering, almost as if the tattoo is trying to escape them.

Or maybe she is trying to escape.

Her body is so very still, but her eyes betray this stillness. They dart from the door to the window, pleading for a way out, but unable to leave. She is visibly afraid of something unseen.


"Do you have kids?" the little chatterbox asks her seatmate as the bus starts. "My mom has three. I only want to have one, so I can spoil her. No one spoils me."

It seems responses are unnecessary.

The seatmate says nothing, trying to concentrate on filling out what looks like an official form for something important, but the chatterbox continues. Ponies. Clothes. Video games. Hair. Smells. Best friends. Movies. All topics covered in the less than ten minutes before the seatmate pulls the cord and stands up. I don't think she was really at her stop. She just needed the words to stop.


As the bus lurches to a stop, a heavily accented voice tinged with panic asks, "Is this right? I need airport, not train station. Am I on wrong bus?"

I assure her that we will reach the airport soon.

She folds back into herself and leans against the window, somehow becoming smaller than she was minutes before. The fedora, Chuck Taylors, striped messenger bag, and vest seem like a costume for her insecurities.


She holds a book, not turning a single page for twenty minutes. This book is not for stories, but to be a shield. One hand resting on a plastic bag in her lap, she looks nervous anytime someone makes a move toward the seat next to her.


A big stroller is nice, until you have to maneuver it onto the bus while holding a wiggling baby and trying to feed dollar bills into the bus pass slot.

Every line on her face speaks of exhaustion. The baby is getting increasingly fussy. If only this was the kind of place you could take a small nap - but it isn't.

Pulling a phone out of her pocket, she takes a deep breath, and answers it with a strained, "Hello." The voice on the other end is loud enough to hear, if not quite loud enough to make out individual words. But her words, though quiet, can not be missed, "Sometimes there is no choice...It isn't working, but what does work, really?...I just can't fight about this anymore...I'm sorry...I'm sorry...I'm sorry." The last sorry accompanied by a small sob she tries unsuccessfully to mask with a fake cough.

The baby in her arms does not try to mask his sobs. She shushes him unsuccessfully as she returns the phone to her pocket.


She uses the dark window as a mirror. Checking her hair and face. Brushing small imperfections only she can see off of her cheek. Foot tapping impatiently, her hand is half-raised in anticipation of pulling the cord.

At the next stop, she gasps when he walks on the bus. A quick kiss as he slides into the seat next to her.

"I thought I was meeting you at the restaurant," she giggles.

"I couldn't wait to see you," he replies.

She leans into him. Safety and happiness play in her eyes, reflected in the dark glass.


  1. These were delicious reflections. Beautifully written.

  2. Wow. I was breathless the whole time. And I could see it.

  3. Beautifully put! I used to love riding the bus because of all the interesting things you see. You don't get the same inspiration driving alone in your car!

  4. It felt like I was riding on the bus with you! I always wonder what happens to people when they get off the bus. I'm especially wondering about the woman with the stroller....

  5. I see a book coming forth...well reflected

  6. I agree with Thomas, you should write a book. Even just a poetry type book filled with reflections like these. I would read it every day.

  7. Thank you for letting us people-watch with you :)