Words

“I’ve always loved her.”

My friend chuckled. “Love is weird, isn’t it?”

“It’s just that… I can’t love her.”

My friend nodded. “Love is confusing too.”

“Why can’t life go the way I want it to?”

My friend said nothing.

A canyon of a pause enveloped us as we sat there. I looked at him. There was a mountain of care in his eyes; I saw that so clearly I cried. He watched me dry my eyes on my sleeve.

I sniffled. “Haven’t you ever been in love?”

My friend laughed and leaned back in his chair. “Oh sure. Plenty of times.”

“Then why don’t you ever fall apart like me?”

A soft smile crawled onto his face. His eyes met mine and he said, “I refuse to be defined by my relationship status.”

Those were the last words he ever said to me. I took his advice.

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” ―Rudyard Kipling

The Bus Stop, Pt. 2

It’s a quiet morning as the little girl and her mother and the old man take their seats on the bus.

“Destinations?” the bus driver queries and they tell him. “Looks like you’re my only passengers this morning. We’ll be arriving soon. Want some music?”

“Ooh! Yes please!” the girl says.

As soft music begins to play over the speakers and the bus pulls into traffic, the little girl looks up at her mother longingly and says “Mom, do you think the nice man will dance with me?”

“Oh, sweetie, I don’t think you–”

“I’d love to dance.” The old man stands up and offers his hand to the girl, bowing politely. The girl squeals with delight and takes his hand, her face shining with more brilliance than the sun itself.

“What is your name?” the man asks as he bends down to dance with her.

“Sarah. What’s yours?”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Sarah. My name is Carl.”

They dance slowly in silence for a moment, swaying with the irregularities of the bus’s movements, enjoying the gentle ballad that has them captivated.

“You’re a very good dancer, Sarah.” Carl smiles down at her. “You remind me of my own daughter when she was your age.”

Sarah looks up at Carl with sincere eyes and a tender smile.

“Where is your daughter now?”

Carl looks off into the distance at the vivacious, blushing dogwood trees that line the street for miles. “She’s all grown up now. I haven’t seen her in a while.”

“How long is a while?”

Carl spins Sarah daintily around, under his arm and back to his hands again.

“Twelve years.”

“You should call her.”

Sarah’s smile is so very infectious and Carl cannot help but laugh.

“I wish it was that easy.”

They dance in serenity until the ballad ends and Sarah and Carl return to their seats.

“Mom, why doesn’t Daddy ever dance with me?”

“Oh, sweetie, I’m sure he would if you asked him to.”

“I’ll ask him tonight.”

The rest of the ride they sit in peace, wandering through the mazes of their thoughts and imaginations. Only when the driver calls back to Carl to tell him they had arrived at his destination do they find their mazes’ exits and escape their introversion.

Carl stands up to leave the bus, but stops by Sarah’s seat.

“Thank you for dancing with me. You took my mind off of sad things for a little while.”

“I will never forget you,” Sarah says.

Carl chuckles and walks to the front of the bus. Before stepping onto the street, he turns back and looks into Sarah’s clear hazel eyes; a moment of connection before he is gone.

The Bus Stop

A man is waiting for the bus. A mother and her young daughter walk over and join him on the bench. The daughter notices the man next to her seems sad.

“Why are you sad?” she asks.

He looks down at her, unable to conjure a smile. “You wouldn’t understand, little girl.”

She looks a little confused. “Why not?”

Her mother nudges her and gives her a look that says “leave the poor man alone.” The girl dismisses her mother’s warning quite rebelliously and turns her attention back to the man, discontent with his answer. The man looks down at her and says “Well if you must know. My wife died.”

“Why?” the girl asks.

“Dear, you mustn’t bother the man–”

“No, no. It’s okay,” the man reassures the girl’s mother. Returning his gaze to the girl, he says rather slowly “She was sick. She died a few days ago. I was just thinking about her when you came and sat down. That’s why I’m sad.”

For the first time in the conversation, he smiles. It’s a sweet, sad smile that seems to pinpoint his exact emotion.

The little girl smiles back at the man– giving him a big, toothy grin– but a moment later furrows her brow and says in her most genuine voice “I’m sorry your wife is dead.”

After a long silence, the man says “me too” and a tear rolls down his cheek. Before her mother has a chance to stop her, the girl scoots closer to the man, looks into his eye and offers him as big a hug as she can manage. He accepts the embrace and a beautiful moment is shared between the two.

The bus arrives.

Writing Is Hard

He eyed his computer screen with exasperation.

“I will write something!”

For the hundredth time that hour, he vehemently pounded on his keyboard, willing something good to come of it. He finished a sentence. He hated it. He moved on, writing another sentence. He hated it even more than the last sentence. He wrote half of the next sentence before highlighting the entire section of text and clicking delete.

He sighed in annoyance. “Why is writing so hard!?” He yelled.

For the next three hours, he wasted his time on YouTube, starting with comedy videos and ending watching a fainting goat falling down a slide.

In frustration, he clicked back to his Word document, wincing at the blank page.

“I had one goal today: write something. That’s all I ask! Is that so hard!?”

A booming voice from heaven caught him off guard. “When you can’t think of something to make up, tell a true story!”

Was it God? Was it his imagination? He didn’t care. He finally had an idea.

The next hour watched him clack away at his keyboard, struggling to find the words that he wanted. When he finally finished, he realized that the story he had just told was poorly written and sloppy. But he didn’t care. He had written something.

He posted it.

The Window

The train droned on.

Through misty window, through tinted glass, the girl looked. And when the window looked back, she knew it was true.

I’m a failure. The thought settled in, making itself comfortable in the combines of her mind. She allowed the thought to become her, to transform her identity. She truly believed it.

I’m a failure. 

“No you’re not.” The voice caught her off guard. She raised her head and looked into the eyes of a man. She stared at him, wondering how he could have heard her thoughts. Did she say it aloud? How could he know?

“You’re not a failure.” Those were caring words– gentle words. His head cocked ever-so-slightly as he said it, his brown hair falling with gravity across his forehead.

She couldn’t formulate words; she just kept staring at him. How did he know? Who is he?

“I don’t know what you’ve been through. I don’t know who you are or what you’ve done. But I do know that everybody is special, that everyone has gifts and talents that make them unique. Everybody fails, yes. But nobody is a failure.” His red lips cracked into a soft smile.

She wanted to believe it; anyone would! But when she turned her gaze back to the window, back to her past, she simply couldn’t accept what wasn’t true.

“If you knew me you’d agree with me.” she looked back into his eyes. They were big. Inviting. She looked deeper. This was a man who had a deep love for people, a man who cared about those around him. He didn’t make judgments about them or spread hate like most people did. No, this man was different.

Before they could exchange any further words, the train pulled into the station with the toot of a whistle and a creak in the wheels. But before the man left, he reached in his bag and pulled out a book and handed it to her.

“I hope you change your mind.” With a soft smile and a nod, the man turned and left the train car.

She looked at the book in her hands. It was a Bible. With one final glance at the condemning window, she exited the train. She had made her decision: she would accept her failures and move on. She refused to be defined by them.