907 words long
Of all the buses she could have chosen, she chose to start with his.
Notes from the author:
Lately I’ve been doing my freewriting on the bus from Boulder to Longmont thanks to a one-car household and thrice-weekly appointments. There’s no wi-fi on the bus (unless you are, for instance, heading all the way up to Fort Collins), so if I don’t do a little prep work before boarding, I don’t get to grab writing prompts from the internet. Which leaves me with the hit-or-miss inspiration of the Virtual Writers “Writers Dash” prompts, which I copy to my Scrivener project every month, and Natalie Goldberg’s “I am looking at...” exercise.
When I’m on the bus, I am, more often than not, looking at the bus. And its passengers. And the scenery. Granted, the scenery can start to pall; bus routes are nothing if not regular. That said, the return trip has gotten downright interesting since construction on Highway 119 has inspired at least one of the regular drivers to take fascinating detours.
With this slice of story, I ran into a problem that crops up with prompted writing from time to time: inability to expand outward from the prompt. From Virtual Writers, I had the archaic term Tolliban-rig, “A species of cheat carried on by a woman, assuming the character of a dumb and deaf conjuror”; from looking around me, I had the bus driver. But what role did the bus driver play in the woman’s con game? Why did she need him to drive her to that particular square foot of earth? Heck, why did she need to get on the bus at all? I’m not convinced I came up with satisfying answers to those questions, honestly.
It would come back to him later, many times, more times than a mortal could count, as he endured the endless days of a world made new: I could have done something.
By some accounts, things were better now. If not better, then at least more exciting. Magic was loose in the world. Children flew daredevil above the rooftops. Computer engineers embarked on monster-slaying quests. Curse met anti-curse in schoolyards and in glass towers. Dreamers sent their nightmares to walk the waking world, where no shortage of new-made heroes waited to face them.
But he remembered—how could he forget?—the sudden and merciless upheaval that had marked the shift from before to after. How the very landscape had shuddered and shrugged during the transformation, like an actor changing costumes between scenes. How reality itself had ripped loose from its moorings, how impossible storms had strewn their paths with wreckage. How the laws of physics had bent and broken, raising miracles to heaven and dropping airplanes from the sky. His great head bowed under the weight of those memories, and once again he thought, I could have done something.
He had, in those days, been a bus driver....
This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for July 22, 2016. Subscribers can download the full-length fictionette (907 words) from Patreon as an ebook or audiobook depending on their pledge tier.
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