It’s midnight, and the room is a walking mess. Well, a sitting one– did it matter? It was a mess, and that was that of it. Clothes are thrown about everywhere, papers are lying precariously on piles, waiting to fall to the floor and crumple beyond existence, and the time ticks ever closer to departure. A coffee (black, one sugar) is nursed, hands running through ragged hair as the mess is surveyed and assessed. There was no going around it, it would have to be today, like it or not.
The not side of the matter is being favorably considered, but there is no time to consider, only to do.
An old luggage case is taken out, dusted off and vacuumed for good measure. It’s zipped open and stared at vehemently, then placed in the middle of the space, waiting as heavy piles are being slowly decimated, assorted, and put into its large hollows, life folded and rolled up and squished into itself. It’s almost soothing, this process of leaving another world behind with only the choicest of possessions.
But the bag eventually fills up, the handle is gripped. The door opens, and without so much as a goodbye, the luggage and its owner leaves for good.
“Where you going, may I ask?”
It’s kind of her to ask, this lady on the train. But there’ll be no response, just a little shrug and a return to gazing out the window of the Greyhound bus. Perhaps in the next hour, before the next dropoff. Perhaps never. It didn’t affect the universe at large.
The back of the seat is leaned against, rough velvet stroking tired, weathered skin, as the road passes by endlessly, meek fields waiting outside for anything to come. In a moment (or an eternity) (or an hour) (who knows, really) something answers the unasked call. Eyes widen in surprise as the clouds above seem to release something small, something soft, some many little white things that fall to earth gently, playfully. As the bus powers through road and rest stops it only grows, the faint flakes piling into one giant soft blizzard. A smile spreads, though the reason why isn’t as clear. In another blink of the eye, the world is draped in glistening white, and the seat is jumped in a little, disturbing the others sitting around.
Where? It remains to be seen.
There’s an hour or so to stretch by the side of the highway offered. It’s taken without a second word or thought.
Boots crunch the snow-gravel mix that rests on the concrete. The feet inside curl up with a little giddiness, then stretch out to allow for some running through this small piece of world that remains untouched. There’s a few other passengers from the bus that walk through the snow as well, but they aren’t here, this field belongs to no one, there is only stillness and a crow’s cry that marks this place as belonging to any one or thing. The forest is hastily ventured to, cold seeping in where leather thread meets ice crystals. The weight of the cold white stuff rests heavily on the tops of the trees. In good humor they’re shaken– a shock to the senses when light heaps fall on unassuming shoulders. There’s a cry of delight and then of cold, and the rest of the field echoes with laughter as more trees are shaken and relieved of their load.
The bus driver refuses to let the seats get stained with water and cold and dirt, so another hour is taken to thaw and refreeze again.
Headphones blast comfort all night and day and night long, and the wait seems to be for ages. The rest of the bus is too small to move for comfort, so legs are curled up and tucked in as hands press against the cold glass of the window. Some days there’s some variety when they pass through a city. Most days there’s nothing but houses and road and trees. And shadows. Thick shadows resting on top of the snow. Playful shadows dancing in the wind. Mournful shadows that follow the wail of air pressure against even the slightest crack of an open widow.
The trees and their beloved darker companions wave at the envoy of people who hardly look up in response. Sometimes a child, tired of fidgeting, waves back in response, before spotting the shadows and curling away in fear. The dark spots are noticed nonetheless. In the quiet of the midnight hours, dimly set streetlights letting the shadows stretch for miles on end.
Do they know where they’re going?