The Long Road Home

It was impossible to escape the cold that day. The vent above continued to spew clouds of recycled air directly at the crown of my bare head. On any other day I might have laughed. On any other day I might have raged and stuffed anything I could lay my hands on into that vent to make it stop, but not today. Today, I needed the cold. Cold has an uncanny way of holding tiny shards of life together and I needed something, anything to help me hold myself together a little while longer.
I never imagined that I would be the kind of woman standing at a bus depot with a one way ticket out of Nashville racing the sun back to where life had once made perfect sense to me. At 25 I should have been on the fast track to great things with a brand new PhD and a loving husband.

“I’m not sure I ever loved you.”

I could still hear his words in my inner ear banging around in my brain like a pinball machine. Who says a thing like that to their wife. The person who he pledged to love, honor and cherish till death would we part? 

I can feel a hot string of tears threatening the the security of my ice palace.

I feel the bus come to a jerky stop as several passengers stand up to retrieve their bags from the overhead compartment I look over at my bag on the aisle seat next to me thankful that the bus had remained empty enough that no one had asked to sit next to me. Almost all of the passengers on this leg of the trip from Nashville to Little Rock had been men and Lord knew the last thing in the world I needed right now was some man trying to make small talk with me.

I looked up toward the front door from the back of the bus when I saw her, a woman who looked on the outside the way I was feeling on the inside. Her hair was all over her head like it hadn’t seen a comb in days. Her skin looked thin and tight giving her the appearance of an old woman. But it was the crazed look in her eyes as she searched the bus for an empty seat that gave me pause. Since God and I were in a weird place at the moment I more hissed than prayed, “Please don’t let her come sit by me.”

It was like I set off a homing beacon as I watched the woman lock eyes with me and make a beeline for my buffer zone. When she reached my row she leaned over towards me and quietly whispered, “I just walked in on my husband of 15 years fucking my best friend. My son came and picked me up and put me on a bus before I could do anything stupid. I can’t sit next to a man right now, can I please sit next to you?”

~ Marta C. Youngblood

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