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Get Off The Bus

The horror of the public transportation of our collective crushing sorrow; or, Why don't i get taxis?

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by Chris Connolly, for outsideleft.com
originally published: August, 2008
I wondered what type of sadness she was feeling just then - disappointed sadness, angry sadness, fearful sadness - too many sadnesses to cover...
by Chris Connolly, for outsideleft.com
originally published: August, 2008
I wondered what type of sadness she was feeling just then - disappointed sadness, angry sadness, fearful sadness - too many sadnesses to cover...

Need sleep. So so very tired, body aching, eyes blurring and a very deep need to rest my mind. Lying on my bed with a book in my hand. A book that bores me and which I don't want to read. I don't read it. But to turn off the light gives me the great fear.

Those moments after the lights go out and before my brain switches off and my eyes close of their own accord - those moments I know very well. Sometimes those moments are fine, filled with thoughts and neon-dark visions of hopes and wishes and dreams. But other times - too many other times - the thoughts and visions are different. Hopes and wishes smothered by the fear and the regret and the guilt. Tonight is one of those times, I can tell. I need to sleep, but I can't turn off the light and just lay there thinking. I can't allow myself to think. Not in the dark. Tonight that bluish dark is not my friend.

I am lying on my bed, the lights on, the book in my hand, just lying. I stare at a point on the ceiling and can't help but think. I wonder what to do. I can't turn that light off. I don't want to read the book. I can't move to get up and do something, can't do anything. Need sleep. Can't sleep. Know this feeling.

Smoking a joint is a risk. This dull feeling surrounding me could be lifted - smothered - by the weed. Or it could get worse. It's hard to tell. But it doesn't really matter...

I begin to roll. My arms and fingers are tired. I need sleep. The joint is finished and lit and the smoke is filling my lungs and then the weed hits and I stay there, still lying, still waiting. Still needing sleep. Stoned in the yellow light of my square and small room. I need to turn off the light. Still can't. The light will stay on, and I will stay awake a while longer, not moving, staring at the flat ceiling above, waiting for it to fall onto me, or for me to rise towards it. I know this won't happen, but I hope. A hopeless hope - the worst kind. I will not rise even a millimeter. Why would I?

It started on the bus home, this feeling. All these feelings. I sat there at the back of the crowded bus and noticed things. I noticed the man beside me breathing heavily through his nose. I noticed his elbow gently resting against my arm.

Human contact - can't take it. Not from a strange fat man who smells like outdoors.

I noticed a girl a few seats ahead wearing a colourful knitted hat with long furry ear-pieces. She looked sad. I wondered what type of sadness she was feeling just then - disappointed sadness, angry sadness, fearful sadness - too many sadnesses to cover...

I noticed the trickles of condensation flowing gently down the window panes and dampening the arms of the passengers ahead of me. I saw the faces of the men and women and the backs of their heads and their bags and wondered what the ones with earphones were listening to. Some looked as sad as the girl with the hat. Some looked sadder. Some looked vacant. Some didn't look like anything at all.

And then I thought about all these people. I thought about the good times they all must have had, and would have again. And then I thought about the bad. The hurt. The sadness. I thought about the hurt each one of them had felt in their lives so far, and the hurt that would await them when they got wherever they were going. I thought about all the hurt they had all felt, and thought about how much hurt had been felt in total by them all. And by me.

The sum total of all the hurt each one of us must have felt so far... I tried not to but I couldn't stop. The amount of communal hurt being transported in that bus was crippling me, the sadness and the pain laying into me.

A grotesque bus-load of pure grief.

I forgot about the sum total of the good times, replaced it with all that hurt.

I needed to get off the bus and away from all that pain, and when finally my stop came and I struggled down the stairs and out the door I could feel my heart screaming. The sweat began to rush out of me. I walked along the street to where I live and went upstairs and into my room.

Into my room, where now I sit with book in hand and light in tired eyes and where I can't shake those people's crushing hurt and pain and disappointments...

Can't sleep. Need to. That bus full of crushing sorrow is dragging me along behind it. I want to get off. Is anyone else on that same bus? The bus of pain, bringing us closer to the terminal. To the terminus. To the end...Maybe...

Anyway, I need to start taking taxis.

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Chris Connolly

Chris Connolly writes from Dublin, Ireland. Allegedly he is not as dangerous as he reads. His first collection of short stories, 'Every Day I Atrophy' (the SideCartel) is available now. If you need to know more about Chris Connolly, he has an excellent and excellently informative website here chrisconnollywriter.com

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