It’s dark out.
This does not surprise me, of course, as it’s been dark since, oh, I dunno, 2012? It is winter. We go to work in the dark.
And we return in the dark.
It’s easy to get caught up in the gloom.
The woman on the bus directly in front of me is a regular. I’ve seen her get on and off the bus for several years now. Bundled from head to foot, all five feet of her speaks of separateness. She is an immigrant, dark skinned and dark eyed. She sits on the aisle side of the seat, keeping the window seat empty. This is considered somewhat rude, for the most part, but we Minnesotans are a non-confrontational little group, and so she sits alone.
There are three high school students that get on three stops after I do. As a bus, we’ve watched them and their school uniforms grow up.
Today one of them is tearing through his pockets, his backpack, in a manner all bus riders know and dread.
Where is my bus pass?
The bus pulls away – we have a timetable to adhere to, while they all search for money.
It appears that no one is carrying cash.
The woman in the seat ahead of me stands. She walks briskly down the aisle, holding out the $2.25 fare.
“Here,” she says in accented English. “Go to school.”
She walks back to her seat – and after a moment’s hesitation, slides to the seat next to the window.
Something akin to an electric shock runs through my body. I lean forward, put my hand on her shoulder. She turns to me.
“That was such a nice thing to do,” I say. “Hi. My name is Pearl.”
What is that emotion on her face?
“My name is Esperanza,” she says.
And we smile at each other.
“Happy Monday,” I say.
“Yes,” she says thoughtfully. “A happy Monday.”