The Matted Heat Form
The reason life is so strange is that so often people have no choice.
― William Maxwell
On the bus, you feel the loneliness. It starts in as you pass cornfields or apartment buildings. Parking lots with hardly any cars; sometimes one car like a spaceship on the frozen lake/ broke down maybe/ in a spot far from the automatic doors. In the seat you are alone but before long someone else comes onto the bus and sits there. You might feel sad about that. Or afraid. Some might feel excited, I guess. I never felt anything but dread. I never felt any possibilities in having to scoot over for another kid to sit down.
That’s on me, I guess. But it’s not like a choice or whatever.
The bus is a tube, a missile, and in it we are transported down into the underground of the so-called coming year. Summer break has passed and it was a blur. Ice cream slashing against my teeth. Sand. Mud. The time has scattered and blown off, loose pages from a dirty magazine ripping across the football field. I see them from the bus. Running like refugees. Scattering mindlessly. Truck crash people.
If you stood up and screamed and the driver hit the brakes, what would happen? What are the choices at that point? Get off the bus? Demand to be let off? What if you did get off/ then what? Climb over the cool metal guardrail and ease down the slick steep bank into the woods by the little creek? Stand your silhouette in the dark circle of the culvert that backs up underneath the road? Light a cigarette? Look around? Everything changes in the blink of an eye.
I never do that kind of thing though. So I never did. I sat on the bus, same as you, and I felt my stomach juices sloshing around. Frosted Flakes. Orange juice. Milk. Sugar and carbs. And I wanted to run. Fly. Escape. Go. Flee. Slip the chains of this mental attack and not have to do this anymore.
Violent men dressed up as youth.
15-year-old engine mechanics.
Quiet girls with killer bodies.
Undiagnosed Asperger dudes.
The defensive line.
Goth girls with boyfriends.
The matted heat form burning up on the other side of the curtain.
Nothing was worse than back to school. Back to school dispelled every notion I had managed to create for myself in my teenage mind/ that freedom/ true unrestrained freedom did exist/ that it was out there/ somewhere. The bus coming shattered so much.