The bus finally pulled up to the station and the familiar excitement started settling in. I looked around the station and saw families eager to go on their first trip with bulging suitcases and children carrying their favorite stuffed friend to share their new adventures with. I saw young couples, tugging at each other’s hands — their private excitement and yearning for one another evident in just a small gesture. I saw people like me, old and experienced, but still carrying around their young soul and an undying curiosity to see and feel all corners of the world for themselves. I just can’t explain this sensation. It’s as if the places I go to will forever carry a part of my soul once I set foot upon it — a magical and sweet sensation.
We boarded the bus and I settled into a seat near the front. I checked my phone to see if we were still on schedule and I scrolled through my messages to see if there was anything from her. Perhaps a departing good-bye and well wishing or a how are you, but the last message I received from her was from three weeks ago. A child on the back of the bus shouted, “Mom! I need to pee!” I smiled to myself before putting in my headphones and forgetting everything that had happened three weeks ago.
“Why can’t you ever listen?” she shouted, tears brimming her eyes. I reached for her hand. I wanted her close. I wanted to feel her heart beating against mine, but she turned away. “Gabe, please! Now is not the time! Can’t you see that we aren’t going to be forever unless you get it together?” My mouth ran dry and my hands started to sweat. She sighed and collapsed into the chair, exhausted from the emotional turn of events. I knelt in front of her and whispered, “Melly, dear. I’m sorry.” My head was filled with cotton. Nothing I wanted to say, nothing I wanted to mean was properly forming into words. Before I could say anything else, she rebounded and said, “No, don’t. You say this every single time, but we always end up back into this position. I’ll be crying and you’ll be on your knees begging. I’ve had enough.” The next thing I knew, I was watching her pull out of my driveway, every single part within me felt broken and shattered.
The bus rumbled to a stop just as my song finished, an echoing chord fading into the distance. I opened my eyes to see a brilliant sunset stretching across the wide horizon. The bus was hauntingly silent with no previous indication that there were screaming children and chattering friends. We had the time to stretch and get a snack before we had to be back on the road again. I sauntered into the convenience store. The sudden bright lights and colorful snacks filled my field of vision and it felt like I was in one of my dreams. Unaware of where we were, but still knowing that we had some ways to go, I thrived in the change of pace. I picked up a couple snacks before heading back to the bus where I caught glimpses of people deep in their slumber.
For the first couple of days, my heart wouldn’t stop aching. My Google search history was filled with medical inquiries to relationship advice columns, but the only help I wanted was from Melly. My phone was quiet and it haunted me. I spent hours scrolling through the days when our minds were consumed with each other. I ran through everything that lead up to it and tried to figure out what had happened, but the only conclusion that I could arrive at was that I was the cause. I didn’t want to see her curled up on her bed, eyes red from crying yet somehow, an image of myself reflected what would be of her.
In the early hours of the morning, we arrived. We dragged our aching bodies out of our seats and into the cold morning air, picked up our bags and headed into the station. Parents cradled their kids in their arms, greeting me with a simple nod of unifying tiredness. Couples leaned against each other’s shoulders still maintaining how they were together on the bus. I chuckled to myself, Melly wouldn’t mind the early hours, yet I would be the one sleeping. I sighed and looked up at the sky, just starting to blossom in the day’s radiance. It seems like in the early hours of the day, human nature naturally unifies together as a subtle acknowledgement to the simplicities of life.
A week and a half later, the sadness only took up half of my mind and I had been able to settle on what had happened. My restlessness was evident because when Melly and I were still together, we itched to travel. We went on a couple of trips around the state, seeing natural beauties or creations manifested by humanity. I remembered that we wanted to go to the top of the mountains, wake up at an obscene hour in the morning and watch the sunrise, but our schedules constantly conflicted, a telltale sign of what’s to happen. Every time we went somewhere, Melly’s constant hunger for brighter vitality in the world was never filled. She wanted more and I could never fulfill it. It wasn’t until then did I realize that I also carried an undying desire to feel the world even when it was raw and bleeding. I leaped out of bed; pulled out my laptop simultaneously closing the tabs I had opened for instant gratification and searched “most beautiful location for sunrise”.
I felt the wind in my face and the tiredness coursing through my body, but I was elated. I finally made it. My hand grazed my phone, but I stopped myself. Slowly, but surely, the sun erupted from its hiding place and reached its fingers to touch all corners of the Earth coloring the deepest and darkest corners. I nearly leaped for joy as I basked in the emerging colors and welcomed the new day. People started to pose in front of this reoccurring beauty and I found myself sneaking a couple pictures for myself. Like a dream, I heard my name being called out in the distance in a voice that was familiar to my soul.
Submitted to Lascaux Review – Flash Fiction Contest