This is one of my very first published pieces. I found an old thumb drive and this was on it! LOL.. 😀
I wrote this way back in 2000. It won the award for best fiction at Nova University and was published in the yearly anthology. Hope you like it.
“A Windy Day at the Bus Stop”
By, Ascellia M. Arenas
“On a windy day you can hear the spirits calling”, she said as she sat on the bus stop beside me. She is an old woman, wearing a tattered brown coat and a blue felt hat with a feather in it. Her face wore the lines of a woman who had seen and done many things; her face read of wisdom. My son, Talib, pulled eagerly at my sleeve, he sat between us on this bus stop, on this windy March day. It is 7:30 a.m. and I am already half an hour late for work. I still have to drop Talib off to daycare and this old wise woman wants to talk to me about ghosts, great. “You hear them? They talking bout you…” she said.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“I say, they talking bout you”, she said indignantly.
“Who’s that Ma’am?” I ask.
“The spirits, they say you running late and you not doing well today. What’s wrong wit you chile, why you always running late? Don’t you know that don’t look good. People start to talking bad bout ya, say you can’t do ya job. You don’t want that, do you?” she asked.
“Well no Ma’am, I don’t want that.” I say. My Mama always taught me to respect my elders, even if they were a little off. Besides, she isn’t really bothering me.
“What about that man of yourn?” she says as she scowls disapprovingly. “Them say he taking up with another woman, he take her to work and make you ride the city bus. Them say you always taking up with a no good man. This man, he not this boy Daddy. Them say you got to clean your house…” she says as she looks me in my eyes. I looked at her cataracts, gray and shining like dimes, and wondered how she could know all of these things. “Ma’am, I don’t know exactly what you mean. I don’t take up with no good-for-nothing men, and for your information, my man has been at work for three hours now. He don’t take nobody to work because he has to be to work at the crack of dawn. Besides, the bus is more convenient for me because it drop me off right in front of my job.” I say. “Ain’t no use in fightin’ me honey. I just brung you the message. Hurt dog will holler.” she says. “I ain’t no hurt dog, and who do you think you are anyway, some kind of psychic? I’ll thank you very much to mind your own business.” I said, feeling that familiar thump in my chest whenever I get excited about something.
The old woman sat silently and looked upward to the sky. Today is bright and crisp as lilac washed linens. The sun shone brightly though not providing enough warmth to break the chill of the winds. My thin yellow cotton shirt-dress allowed each gust of wind to make little prickly bumps rise on my heavy caramel arms and legs. My ears, though cradling my thick black wisps of hair, still shine a bright red partly from embarrassment and from the chilly winds. I know that Caleb is a good man, and I have made a bad choice a time or two. Anyway, who is she to judge me? Caleb has his faults but he does love me. This I know.
The bus creaked to a halt in front of our stop. Talib, warmly dressed and hungry, pulls on my arms begging me for a hotcakes and sausage breakfast. I barely have bus fare for us both. “Mama can I have Mc Donalds?” Talib asks. We board the bus and I reach in my purse to take out the one-dollar bill that is folded and placed on today’s date in my Daily Word. “No baby, not today”, I say. I hate not being able to buy him McDonald’s sometimes. Sometimes I wish I had the extra money so that I could be able to do things with him. The circus came and left, the county fair will be here soon, and Talib will miss out once again. Caleb swears he never has any extra money. I’m just thankful that he helps me pay some of my bills. “That boy is going to be fine”, she said as she crowded on the bus behind me. “You don’t really need him no way”, she confirms. I am becoming annoyed with her, probably my annoyance is coming from the fact that I know she is right and she just keeps telling me things that I don’t want to hear. She sits down next to Talib and me on the bus. The dingy floors and windows are a welcome change from the biting wind. Maybe now that we are on this bus, she won’t be able to hear the “whispers”, maybe now she’ll leave me alone. Her eyes are gray with cataracts; the years have clouded them yet she is still able to see. Her shoes are battered from walking, they are black and the leather is cracked and brittle.
Talib crawls up on my lap to look out the window and he begins to suck his thumb. The bus takes us three, silently to our respective destinations. “Look Mama”, says Talib, holding his puckered filmy gray thumb in the air, making sure it doesn’t touch anything (he is so impeccable when it comes to his thumb), “It’s Caleb.” I look behind me at the lane of traffic beside us and sure enough it is he, laughing and smiling in his car, with a thin woman in the passenger seat. She is dressed warmly, wearing a pretty red and yellow plaid woolen coat, her hair tucked neatly in a bun. Her skin is not prickled with bumps from the cool air. Large black sunglasses that accentuate the angular shape of her face protect her eyes. He looks at her affectionately and touches the knee of her crossed leg as she sips her coffee from a Styrofoam cup from McDonalds. I look at the old woman, sitting quietly in her tattered brown coat, and blue felt hat with the feather; her cataract eyes gazing forward as she continues to sing a familiar tune, “oh the Lord will bless me by and by…” A silent tear rolls down my plump brown cheek and I do not say a word. The old lady reached for my hand and held it; she held it all the way down Third Street.
(c) A.M. Arenas
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