Journey of Sorrow
by Louise Dragon
Icy sheets of rain slashed across her hard features & penetrated her clothing. She felt nothing. Nothing mattered anymore. The streets were so quiet she felt truly alone – alone with her feelings of nothingness – alone in a world where nothing mattered at all.
The gleaming gray and blue bus stampeded over the horizon, burped a hiss of air brakes, and glided to a stop almost at Lori’s elbow. The windows were black empty screens of tinted nothingness. The door whooshed open letting out a quick whiff of apples and cinnamon. Lori’s mind quickly wandered back to Meme’s kitchen. The kitchen of her childhood when she’d spent summers with her grandparents baking wonderful desserts in Meme’s kitchen or fishing in the stream with Pip . . . She felt around in the pockets of her raincoat for a handful of change and hopped onto the bus.
The driver, a large burly man, in a dark blue uniform who looked remarkably like Pip had in his younger days, tipped his hat and smiled as Lori dropped her change into the kiosk and hesitantly entered the aisle.
The interior was dim and cozy, like a comfortable lair or cave. It took Lori’s eyes a few moments to adjust.
Sitting close to the front was a small bird-like woman who reminded Lori of Mrs. Randall, her second grade teacher who had died years ago. The woman held a small orange lop-eared rabbit on her lap. She stroked its fur and murmured to it in soft tones. Lori had gotten a rabbit just like that for Easter last year from Max. She had named the rabbit “Honey” for his honey-colored fur. She choked back a sob remembering Max, in another fit of rage, kicking Honey into the wall -- turning him into a lifeless heap of orange fur cradled in her trembling hands.
Lori frowned and worked to blot out the sad memory as she continued down the aisle.
A soft, round, elderly woman with clinking knitting needles and a huge ball of pink yarn glanced sideways at Lori then back to her work. Lori frowned. The woman looked a little like Meme, her grandmother, who had died years ago in Farnums. A shiver traveled down her spine like a drop of ice water and she stumbled and almost fell into a seat across from the old woman.
“Are you alright dear?” the old woman shouted, her eyes still glued to her clacking needles.
Meme had been going deaf at the end, she had shouted a lot too . . .
Stop that! Lori admonished herself. Stop that right now. You’re just feeling guilty about Max!
Her mind traveled back in time. Max on the floor . . . So much blood . . .
Lori shook her head -- blotted out the images. She tried to think pleasant thoughts like her shepherd mix Trixie and some of the fun days she had spent with Max. Back in the beginning before Max got sick. Before the violence . . . Life had been pleasant then – fun. A large tear crept down her face.
“Are you alright dear?” the old woman shouted again, reaching into her sleeve for a tissue, just like Meme used to do . . .
The bus suddenly jounced to a halt and the door swung silently in.
Lori watched as a blind man entered the bus and began to carefully work his way toward the back with his dog.
As he got closer, Lori’s eyes widened. The dog could have been Trixie’s double! Same white tuft of fur on its chest, same soulful sad yellow eyes . . .
Lori’s mouth went dry. The dog coming up the aisle with his blind master sported a lopsided mouth that was toothless on one side, its tongue lolled from that side and it limped from the broken shoulder that Max had inflicted with the baseball bat right after he had broken Trixie’s teeth.
Lori shuddered and looked up at the blind man. Max’s dead face grinned down at her. Thick blood crusted from the snakebite-like wound she had inflicted in his neck this morning with her sharpest barbecue fork. She vaguely remembered a spear of pain in her left side – like a jab of electric current. Max had a gun. He had been waving it at her and yelling that she’d be next to go – and she had wanted to go. Her life had become a pit of hell and she longed for freedom, quiet, and no more fear. She would be glad to go . . .
But not alone.
She looked from the misshapen corpse hobbling toward her down the passageway to the old woman across the aisle. The old woman looked unseeingly back at Lori, her eyes clouded and milky from the cataracts Meme had at the end.
“It’s okay, dear,” the dead woman shouted, her knitting needles still moving. “No one can hurt you anymore.”
Author's Note: The first three sentences of this story are courtesy of #storystarters, a Twitter Application.
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