I imagine if she looked into a magical mirror and saw her younger self, she wouldn’t see much changed. Same sweat pants, same long stringy hair, same wide-rimmed glasses, same pouty lip. She can’t remember things ever being anything but just as they are now, and despite accepting this long ago, it still depresses her a little more each day.
She waves timidly to the bus driver as he slows the bus to a halt. She continues waving even as the door to the bus opens wide. Standing a mere four feet, ten inches, each step onto the bus is a quiet feat, but she accepted her short legs nearly 50 years ago, when she realized she was never meant to be tall.
Staring down the aisle between seats, she quickly realized the bus was quite crowded today. Flustered, she wobbly sat in the nearest spot facing the interior of the bus.
“Damn it…” she whispered to herself, hoping someone else might hear. “Oh, damn it…”
The woman squeezed in the seat next to her leaned down and said, “The seat over there is open.”
“No no no…” the woman protested. “I hate aisle seats. I hate aisle seats. I can’t tell you how many purses, bags, knees, and elbows I’ve lost from sitting in those damned aisle seats.” Despite her irritation, her voice carried a pleasant sound to it, almost as though her voice never changed from youth.
The other woman looked around and pointed across the aisle to an open space. “There. That man moved so you can sit in that seat over there.”
“No no no…” she protested again. “I hate side seats. I hate side seats. The only seats I find acceptable are the ones right by the window and I look out the window and see things. Those are the best seats. Those are the best seats.”
Everyone on the bus could not help wanting to listen to this eccentric and highly interesting lady. A pregnant woman looked over at me and we acknowledged each other with a smile, as though silently agreeing with each other, “Poor dear…”
I wondered what her name was and where she grew up. I thought of who her parents could be – cold and distant, raising a tiny daughter whose warm and bright qualities diminished with every year spent under their scolding eyes. I imagined her playing in her front yard as a child, pretending to be a princess and waving a toy wand in her hand, when suddenly her icey mother storms outside, grabs her daughter by the wrist, shakes it violently, saying with spite, “You are not a princess! You are not a princess! You’re just an ordinary girl! An ordinary girl!” And I could see her, heartbroken, tears falling down her cheeks, echoing her mother’s evil words, “I am not a princess… I am not a princess…”
The woman’s pains over the ideal seat turned into a life story. “I can’t get anything I want. My life is tragic. It’s tragic… An existance without love is heartbreaking. An existance without love is heartbreaking. Sometimes I ask God why I wasn’t born dead. ‘Why wasn’t I born dead?’ The whole world would be a better place if I was born dead. I would have been better if I was born dead.”
Soon, the whole bus began to realize the woman may be mentally unbalanced. Something wasn’t quite right. Everyone sympathized for this strange lady, but I doubt many could truly relate.
“I’m going on 63 years and I still don’t know my purpose. I’m positive that I don’t have one. I should be erased. I should be erased. An existance without love is heartbreaking. An existance without love is heartbreaking…”
No one said anything. A huge part of me wanted to take this woman’s hand and say, “You’ve changed my life by creating a memory in my mind that will never delete itself. And in that way, you have served a purpose. So thank you for being in my life, despite how brief.”
But like a selfish oaf, I stood up out of my seat and prepared to exit. I’ll kick myself for not asking her name for years to come.