Katelyn Thomas - Fiction
By Katelyn Thomas
They are three islands, spaced a few yards apart. They have perfected the art of being alone in a public place, as most bus riders do.
The man on the bench has positioned himself carefully on the left, but his right arm embraces the back of the empty half of the bench and the other two men are not willing to enter his embrace. He had tried several different ways of sitting on benches while waiting over the last few months, but this is the most effective. Sitting in the center of a bench makes you seem greedy. People are willing to ask a greedy man to move over. Sitting to one side without claiming the other with a casually outstretched arm makes it appear that he welcomes people who don't understand the joy of being alone to sit beside him. He stares at the big pin oak across the street. Watching the scarlet leaves drop from the branches and swirl to the ground is a pure meditation moment that gives hope in a day when the morning news has been especially bleak.
The man who sits on the ground several feet behind the bench thought about asking the sitter to move his arm so that he, too, could sit on the bench instead of settling onto the still damp cement, but he ultimately decided the effort was too difficult and a little foolish. Why should he care about comfort now? There is only another hour at the most before he is back in his dank apartment. The text message to the girl he used to love is ready to send and the gun is a comforting weight in his shabby backpack. Now that he's made his decision, he is anxious to get it done. He hopes no one talks to him before he gets to his stop. He is afraid they will sense his plans. If they do, they may try to talk him around or even try to get him committed again.
The man leaning against the bus stop pole is texting frantically before his shoulder completely settles against the cold metal. He is juggling two girlfriends at once. The game, while exciting in its danger of discovery, requires constant vigilance. He is beginning to think that the newest girlfriend knows about his wife. She was not supposed to be part of the game. Her addition adds a whole new dimension and the adrenaline that pumps through him as he thinks about what could happen if she finds out about the girlfriends gives him a high better than any he's ever had.
When the bus finally arrives at the bus stop, the men forget their desire for personal space in their eagerness to be first on the bus. They brush against each other as they scramble toward the still opening door.