The bus was empty when I got on this morning, already deep into a “first fiction” piece in the New Yorker about two kids snorkeling in a boat graveyard for their dead sister. At the next stop, a pair of shiny slip-on loafers broke the story’s spell. They were attached to a middle-aged man in a golf shirt asking me to take my laptop off the seat next to me so he could sit down.
He plunked down next to me, and I surprised myself by jumping up to move to another of the forty-odd vacant seats that remained. Why did he have to sit next to me? A compulsive loser who has to sit in the same seat every day? Just friendly?
The article made me sad. And scared. Two brothers saw their little sister for the last time when they pushed her down a sand dune on a crab-sled to the shore. One brother had nightmares of the sea as a hand pulling his sister away. The other kept seeing his own hands pushing the sled.
The bus was full by the time I finished the article. I felt very alone. I wanted to ride right back home and crawl back into bed with my two little boys.