Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bus Stop

The bus-stop sign, no further. The man petrified in the middle of the sidewalk. People pushed by until some command from the bridge of his mind made him turn his head. 

Unseeing eyes found the bench against the coffee shop wall. 

Another command shuffled his feet, rotated his body, bent his legs at the knees then floated him down onto the icy concrete, missing the bench. His son once described the tiny people who lived inside his body, moving all the parts . . .

His son.

Ache consumed his body. Pain grew under the ribs and crept across his chest. He choked. Winter waited impatiently outside his jacket as if jealous of the affliction that squatted into his bones. Open-mouthed breath clouded the frigid air. The only sign of life.


The bus slid to the curb, spilling black exhaust across the sidewalk. Passengers disembarked, covering their noses. The man gazed through the cloud, through the open doors, through the building on the opposite side and clear across the world. He did not see the bus wait, then pull away, sardonically belching in his face. Melting ice crept under his seat and bit his buttocks.


People moved passed him, over him, around him. A careless jostle rained hot coffee from under an ill-fitting coffee-cup lid. The drops eventually crystallized, frozen onto his unshaven cheek and upper lip. The aroma paused bewildered in his nose, unable to awaken the senses. Someone whistled for a taxi. A girl laughed from under a python of woolen scarves, startled by the shriek.

He just “was.”


[Note: this short story is my creation, with mild revision of the original May 2012 post that was prompted by a writing exercise developed by T.S. Eliot and John Gardner most commonly known as "The Killer Exercise." The assignment is to describe what is happening around a man who just lost his son to a violent and sudden death; however, the writer may not describe what has happened to the man--merely describe how he perceives the world around him. Hope I passed.]

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