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Written By Katherine Serna
Cover Art by


A story about how people come in and out of our lives in both significant and insignificant ways. We hear this story told from three perspectives: one of a bus driver, and both members of a young couple.

Editors’ Note

The wheels on the bus go round and round, and so do the wheels of time that drive us forward. Not only is getting to know each of the characters in this story a delight, but an observation into human nature and how we think inside our minds compared to what we do and how people perceive our actions.
Topics: Love, Romance

. . . 


There were never many new faces on the 8 line, and I memorized them all. There was a young lady that got on at 6th/Ferdinand with her baby and went the whole trip around to get off at the same stop. The baby was always crying when they first got in and fell asleep within the next two stops. There was an old man with prune lips and broken capillaries on his cheeks and knuckles who got on at 3rd/Highland and got off at 8th/Anderson to go home from work. I’ll see you tomorrow, Chief, he said with a nod of his hat. 

The hum of rubber on pavement filled the metal walls. The evening shift was my favorite; it was my regular time. When I first started, over fifteen years ago, I had afternoons. That’s the worst time to drive. Damp bodies and hot breath; everyone’s so angry about being alive and being on the bus, you could feel it in the air like cement. 

In the cool evening everyone was so tired from work that it was quiet. I used to play tunes from the jazz station, until one day the young momma asked me to turn it off to see if that’d let the baby fall asleep faster. It worked. The hums of wind friction and the engine stirring were the only music that filled the air after that. 

Luz ran out of the panaderia on the corner by the time I pulled up to the stop, waving at the old man as he walked away, little white bags filled with baked goods in her hands as she rushed up the steps, barely on time. I didn’t mind waiting for her. 

How you doin’ today, Bub? she asked. 

I’m doing alright, Sugar. What’d you get me? 

You know they don’t have much at this time in the day, but I snagged you an empanada. She extended her hand to offer me a bag. 

I reached out for the bag. Thank you, thank you. You know I’m always too hungry by this time of the shift. 

It’s almost over though! She grinned before walking down the aisle to take the old man’s spot. 

At 9th/Zidan, a father and his child daughter got off, holding hands as they walked away from us. 

At 10th/Corpus, our last stop on the route before we turned around and took the line the other way, a young man got on. I didn’t recognize him. 

Hi. He flashed a smile before moving on. A brown leather satchel hung from his left shoulder and he carried a gray suit jacket in his left hand. 

I continued down the street before turning the corner on the next three corners. Then I took a left to get us back on the original route heading in the opposite direction. After I finished there’d be a shift change and a younger man would take over the route until 3 am. It was 9:18. 

The young momma got off at 6th/Ferdinand with her sleeping child, along with an older lady with box-blonde hair and a young boy who carried a backpack and a duffle bag and didn’t talk much. I think he ran track. The new young man got off at 2nd/Landon, so did a woman who would walk on the bus in a pantsuit and walk off the bus in a blouse that could barely cover both her breasts. I always imagined she went dancing some place. I imagined her long arms looming over her head, a soft bend in her elbows and shoulder blades popping. 

Luz was the only one who got off at 1st/Maine. 

Enjoy the empanadas, Bub! she called before stepping off the bus. 

Have a good night! 

I waited a few minutes to watch her cross the street and walk into the building on the next block, just to make sure she got in safely. 

Several weeks passed. The old man with the prune lips sat at the front of the bus, behind me. My wife tried to take our dog to the vet last night because she thought he was sick, he told me. 

Is your dog alright? 

Well, we don’t have a dog, he said a sadness laced in his words. I’m thinking about moving us into a home, at least we’d be together. It’ll be such a hassle to memorize a new bus route. 

It only took you thirty years to memorize this one, I teased and waited for the sadness to blow out the window like air. He chuckled and patted my shoulder. I tried to imagine what it’d be like to stop at 3rd/Highland without being greeted by the nod of his flat cap. 

Maybe I’ll consider retiring this year to spend more time with her, he said. I think he should’ve retired a long time ago. He’s been on the 8 line since way before I started driving it. His was the first face I memorized. 

It was raining. Windshield wipers sped back and forth across the glass. We stopped at 6th/Ferdinand, and the young momma got on, closing her blue umbrella without taking the time to shake it. I didn’t mind. 

You shouldn’t have brought your baby out in the storm, the old man said with a sort of sweetness in his voice. He was just as concerned about the mother as he was about the baby. She won’t sleep without this bus ride, she said. The bags under her eyes seemed to get worse every day. She doesn’t accept rain checks, the momma said, earning a laugh from both the old man and me. 

At 8th/Anderson, Luz ran out of the panaderia right away, without the usual little white bags in her hands. She didn’t have an umbrella, her clothes and hair dripping wet. The old man tipped his hat at me and walked off the bus. I saw him caress Luz’s shoulder when she greeted him and offered her his umbrella but she refused it. 

Sorry, Bub. They didn’t have anything for us today, she said as she climbed on the bus. I passed her my cardigan. It’s okay, dry off Kiddo. 

She smiled and took a seat in the middle of the bus. 

The new young man got on at 10th/Corpus. He had a black umbrella. He shook it off before climbing on the bus, but the rain was so bad he was soaked in just those few seconds. He dragged water onto my bus. 

We looped around. This time, the new young man didn’t get off at 2nd/Landon. I turned back to him, but he didn’t move. I kept driving. 

Have a good night, Luz, I told her once we were at 1st/Maine. She only responded with a smile as she hung my cardigan on the back of my seat. Luz climbed off and the new young man followed after her. 

I watched him run up behind her, I leaned forward in my seat, getting ready to unbuckle my seatbelt. But then he held his umbrella over her head. I settled. 

. . . 


I had studied the stops of the 8 line and taken notes about where I had to go. It made things easier to remember. The stop where I got on the bus was in front of an Indian restaurant. It was three blocks away from my apartment building. I’ve never had Indian food before. I made a mental note to go there with friends at a later date. Or maybe during my lunch hour sometime. I knew that we passed a shopping mall two stops before the one I got off, and I knew that we passed an elementary school one stop before it. It looked so dark and sad as we drove by at night, very different from what it was like during the day, on my way to work. I was supposed to get off at 2nd and Landon, just in front of some random business plaza. 

I’d never taken the bus before. I grew up in the suburbs and had a car in college. But now that my place of work was virtually across town from my apartment, I had to utilize public transportation. Something about it felt grimy and dirty. I packed disinfectant wipes in my satchel, but I was too embarrassed to use them. Instead I sat with the germs and bacteria, imagining them making friends with one another before infecting me with whatever viruses they carried. 

There was a girl. She was already on the bus by the time I got on everyday. But she was the first person I noticed when I got on. She had dark hair that framed her face, and deep-set eyes. A second chin would form slightly below her face as she looked down at her phone. She couldn’t have been older than 23, maybe 24. 

I noticed her talking to the bus driver and other passengers. Once she sat behind the woman with a baby. Her hand gently reached over the seat to stroke the baby’s hair. “She’s so sweet,” the girl said, a curl of hair twisting around her finger before her hand glides along the baby’s cheek. 

“You should see her before we come on the bus. She’s a demon, a whole different baby,” the woman said. The girl laughed and I chuckled under my breath. They both turned to look at me and I felt embarrassed. I began to imagine all the things they might be thinking about me: he’s so rude, insensitive, obnoxious. The woman turned to look at her baby. 

But then the girl smiled. The corners of her mouth turned up like curly q’s. My stomach bottomed up as she turned away. 

Later that week, I sat in the seat across from the girl. She talked to a younger kid, who sat in front of her. 

“How was your meet?” she asked him. 

“We won. But I didn’t do well.” 

“What happened?” 

“I was too slow. And I kept dropping the baton.” 

“That’s okay, you’ll do better next time. Summer’s coming, are you excited?” 

“Yeah, we won’t have any practice.” 

“The high school team won’t practice?” 

“I don’t think I’ll try out.” 

“How come?” 

“I just don’t want to do it anymore.” 

“You shouldn’t give up on it so easily,” I said suddenly, surprising even myself. I started mentally cursing myself for being such a fool. What would she think of me for eavesdropping? The girl turned to look at me, then she smiled. “Do you have any advice?” I sighed, releasing a breath I didn’t realize I was holding onto so tightly. 

“Yeah,” I said, “I used to play basketball in high school. My team wasn’t very good, or maybe it was just me. But everytime that I felt like quitting, I remembered all my friends on the team, all the time and energy my coach put into trying to make us good, all the gas money I spent to drive to practice,” the girl laughed. “It motivated me to stay, and keep getting better.” “Did you get better?” the kid asked. 

“Well, no,” I said, and she laughed again. I hoped she’d think I was funny. “But still, the basketball team gave me a place where I felt like I belonged.” I swore I saw something change in the girl’s eyes, something softened. 

“What about you?” she asked the boy now, turning to face him. “Do you have a lot of friends on the track team? Does it feel like home?” 

“Well yeah, I guess so,” he said. 

“Maybe you just need to give it another chance,” I told him. He nodded. The girl smiled at me again before turning to look out the window. 

On the first Monday of my second month at work, and on the bus, it rained. When I got on the bus, I saw that the girl’s hair was soaking wet. She didn’t have an umbrella. I took a seat a few rows behind her. We passed the shopping mall, and the elementary school. I knew there was only one stop on the line after mine before it turned back around and went to all the same ones again. When we got to the plaza, I didn’t get up. The bus driver turned back to look at me for a second, but kept driving when I didn’t move. 

When the bus stopped at 1st and Maine, I followed the girl off the bus, staying a few feet behind her at first. I didn’t want her to think I was crazy. But as I watched the rain continue to pour down on her, I ran up behind her. 

“Hey, wait up,” I called. I held my umbrella over her head. 

She didn’t flinch when she turned to look at me. I was surprised by that. “Thank you,” she said. I nodded. 

We didn’t say anything for a second, just stood near each other under the sound of the rain. I could feel drops of rain hitting the back of my neck, but I could tell that none were hitting her. 

“I’m Arlo,” I finally said. 

“I’m Luz.” 

I moved my hand closer to her, motioning for her to take the umbrella. “You should use this.” 

“What will you do?” 

“I don’t mind the rain much.” 

“When will I return it to you?” 

“Tomorrow, on the bus. We’ll both be there anyway,” I said, and she laughed. She looked up at me through long eyelashes, her brown eyes were so big. “Okay.” Her fingers brushed over mine slightly as she took the handle; a warmth spread over me. “Thank you,” she said again. I nodded, and watched her walk away. The rain seemed to make a path just for her. 

I walked home. I felt like I was walking on water, rather than getting poured down on by it. It was a long walk, and I was soaking wet by the time I walked into my apartment, but I didn’t care about the water I dragged in. I knew future me would be worried, and I made a mental note to grab the mop in the morning. 

I fell asleep thinking about the smile in Luz’s eyes. 

It rained all week, too. The next morning, I bought an umbrella on my way to work. I couldn’t stand the feeling of the cold wet against my skin. 

I worked in the HR department of a toilet paper company. I had only started the job a few weeks ago, and already I’d slipped into a monotonous cycle of ugly ties and gray walls. I didn’t want to make any judgments about my coworkers too soon, but they all seemed to be boring and middle-aged, sitting in their cubicles in gray suits. I was afraid to grow up and become exactly like them. 

At the end of the day, when I got on the bus, Luz was already sitting in the same place she had the day before. I gave her a smile and sat behind her. She turned around, extending her hand to give me the umbrella. 

“No, you can keep it,” I told her. I held up my right hand, umbrella in my palm. “I got my own.” 

“Thank you,” she smiled. “What can I do to make it up to you?” 

“Maybe dinner?” I said, a lot more casually than I anticipated. Still, there was a bubbling feeling in my stomach. 

“Sure.” She turned away from me to look out the window. 

I think I knew I would love her because of the way she watched the rain fall on the other side of the glass. I watched the way her head moved as her eyes tracked the droplets. Her pupils danced with the rain. 

We got dinner the following evening. She got off at 10th and Corpus to meet me. I took her to the Indian restaurant. 

“I got you this,” she said as she extended a tiny white bag to me. 

“What is it?” 

“It’s a marranito,” she responded. When she noticed the same confused look on my face she continued, “It’s sort of like a gingerbread cookie, but in the shape of a pig. You can save it for later.” 

“Thank you,” I said. 

The side of her arm sometimes brushed against mine as we walked down the block toward the restaurant. 

“I’ve never been here before,” I told her. 

“Indian food is my favorite,” she responded. She wore a skin tight green dress. That one became my favorite outfit of hers. 

“I’ll have whatever you’re having then.” 

There was a red tapestry hanging on the wall. I think Luz noticed me staring, she said, “It’s beautiful isn’t it.” 

“Yeah I suppose it is.” 

“I love the way the gold weaves through the red, it’s so subtle but everytime you see it it’s striking.” 

“I guess I was just trying to figure out a logic in the pattern.” 

Without looking up at me she said, “Maybe there is none.” 

Afterwards, we took the 8 line back to my apartment. There was a different bus driver now. I didn’t even realize our bus driver’s shift would’ve ended. When we got off at 2nd and Landon, she held my hand. Mine were clammy, but I hoped she wouldn’t notice. She didn’t seem to. Or she at least didn’t seem to mind. Her eyes seemed to watch the way the leaves moved or the shape of the stars in the sky. 

When we got up to the apartment, she stood in front of the window, looking out at nothing. 

“What a beautiful view,” she said. 

“It’s just a bunch of lights and concrete buildings.” 

“Each of those lights was turned on by fairies. They’re switched on by the same hands that braid hair, that touch skin, that pick flowers.” 

When she looked at me, something bubbled in my stomach and I had the urge to reach out and touch her cheek, but I didn’t. 

Everything seemed to move so fast the following weeks. We sat beside each other on the bus. We found a nice grocery store near the stop on 4th and Lopez. We took turns going to each other’s place each night. She had slept over at my place a few times, but she never let me stay at hers. 

When I got on the bus, she was sitting behind the bus driver, they were laughing about something. I took the seat right next to her. 

“Hey, how’s your day going?” I asked her. I pulled the bottle of hand sanitizer out of my satchel and gave myself a generous amount before offering her the bottle. “Really good, the panaderia had my favorite, conchas, today. I brought you one.” She placed a little white bag on my thigh. 

“Thank you,” I said, looking inside the bag to see a small piece of bread with what seemed to be blocks of power sitting on top in a random pattern of squares. I tried not to think about how many hands might have touched the bread. “I’ve never asked you where you get these snacks.” 

“There’s a bakery down the street from the gallery, and it’s right by the bus stop.” “I see.” 

We said goodbye to the busdriver, but all he said was, “Goodbye, Luz,” as we climbed off. I noticed the tiny white bag sitting on the dashboard. 

Luz was an artist. She was an assistant to a curator at the gallery near 8th and Anderson. She was finally going to show me some of her work when we got up to her apartment. “It’s not very good,” she warned as she sat on the couch. 

“I think you’re lying.” I kissed the tip of her nose from the other side of the coffee table. “I’ll show you my sketches,” she said and I nodded, moving around the table to sit next to her. Our thighs touched. 

She started passing me pages of gray lead, most of them people. 

“This is my mom,” she said. A woman sat on the page. I looked at her profile. Fine lines on the side of her eyes, and it looked like there might be tiny stars in her irises. Strands of hair were falling out of her bun. I felt like she might move off the paper. I wondered when I’d meet her mom, when she’d meet mine. 

“This is Bub, the busdriver,” she said. I could almost see the texture in Bub’s hair in the pencil strokes. The moles on his face looked like flowers in a garden. 

“Luz, these are amazing,” I said. “Have you tried submitting these anywhere?” She shook her head. “Not these, at least.” She took the pages out of my hand and started putting them back into the folder they came from. When she opened the folder I saw an old man I didn’t recognize, then the woman with the baby from the bus. 

“Do you draw everyone who comes on the bus?” 

“Well, everyone I’ve gotten to know.” 

“Will you draw me someday? You know, when you know me like that?” “Maybe,” she said, getting off the couch. 

“Maybe?” I joshed as I stood up to follow behind her. 

As we walked into the hallway I noticed the drawings in frames on the walls. Drawings of a lonely hand reaching for a flower, or a pair of awkward knees in a skirt, or a lanky man sitting on a bus bench. 

“Are these all yours?” I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed them before. 

She nodded, “Yeah, those have been up there for a while.” 

“These are really beautiful. You’re so talented.” 

“Thank you.” 

“It feels like you see the world differently.” I took one of the frames off the wall. When I looked closer, I noticed the flowers in the garden were actually lightbulbs, or arrangements of them, each bulb a petal. I’m not sure I understood what it meant, but I turned to look at her. “It feels like you have so much to say about the world.” 

She looked at me and didn’t say anything. The look in her eyes was so intense it made my skin feel like it was falling off my body, in a good way. 

She exhaled and turned away from me, walking to look out the window at the other end of the hallway. Something shimmered gold in her brown eyes as she looked at the city. It reminded me of the gold thread in the tapestry from the Indian restaurant. 

She turned to me again, “How many fairies do you think are awake? Why do you think all the lights are on?” 

I loved the way she looked at me. I loved the way she saw the world. 

. . . 


Arlo and I were at the grocery store near 4th and Lopez, we planned to make dinner together that night, he said he wanted to practice for when he would cook for my parents. My mom loved cooking, I told him she would have really high standards, they hadn’t met yet. He just laughed. 

We made our way through the aisles. He held my hand in his right and carried the basket in his left. He asked me what her favorite meal is, I told him it was caldo de res. We needed two pounds of beef, an onion, a can of diced tomatoes, beef broth, two carrots, two ears of corn, and a head of cabbage. We would also need cilantro and limes, but I had that at home. Technically, we were also supposed to use a potato, but I didn’t tell Arlo that because I didn’t like potatoes much. 

Arlo paid when we checked out. I watched the woman’s hands as she scanned each item, her hands looked like alligators, white between the cracks. We carried the groceries in a reusable bag, the grocery store charges a dollar for each paper bag, and the city put out an ordinance two years ago banning plastic bags. Arlo asked if I’ve ever thought about how crazy it is that no matter how many ‘green alternatives’ come about, we never stop creating waste. I told him I had, I talked about how no matter how many metal straw small businesses pop up we still make (and probably use) the same amount of plastic straws as we did before. He asked me if I thought it would end, I told him no. 

On the way to my place, he pointed out the houses with windows with lights on. We played a game where we came up with stories about what was happening inside each window, I called them fairies. He pointed to a window at the top floor of the building, it was the only light on that floor. He said the person in there was getting ready for work, they were a bartender, he said they were playing some bad sitcom in the background while they brushed their hair. I pointed at a window on the first floor of another building. I said a mother was tucking her twin boys into bed, they don’t like each other, but they share the same favorite bedtime story. 

Then he changed the game, he pointed to a window with the light off, he said that would be ours. He said we’d have a dog and eventually maybe a kid too. He said he’d make a place for me to draw, and that he’d add another chair so he could sit beside me. He said he loves to watch me draw. I didn’t say anything, I didn’t like that part of the game, I couldn’t tell if he noticed or not. He told me it was my turn. 

In my kitchen, he did most of the work. He danced around me in the small space, moving back and forth from the fridge to the oven. He didn’t cry while he chopped the onions. He talked about his mom who lived in Arizona, and how he missed her a lot even though it had only been a few months since he left. He told me about how he sold his car to one of her old friends’ teen kid to make the down payment on his apartment here. I realized he did most of the talking, but not because I wanted him to. He said he didn’t like taking the bus but he was glad that I was there. Then we talked about how his dad died when he was young, it was cancer, Arlo was only ten. We moved to the couch and he cried, he fell asleep with his head on my lap before the soup was done, he didn’t wake up when I moved him and walked away to stir. 

When the soup was ready I woke him up and told him he had to go home, he tried to get me to let him stay the night. I told him we weren’t there yet, I wasn’t there yet. I gave Arlo a white bag from the panaderia when he got on the bus later that week. I was excited, they had conchas. He didn’t say thank you, most days he didn’t, he didn’t look in the bag right away. I tried to explain to him that usually by this time the panaderia is out of almost everything, conchas are a rarity, he asked me why I couldn’t just call it a bakery. I told him the people who own it don’t call it a bakery, neither do my parents, neither will I. He didn’t say anything, that was a first, I was glad. 

When we got off the bus he told me about his day at work, he called his boss an asshole, he said he was up for some big project but his boss was elusive about who would get it. I asked what a big project meant at a toilet paper company, he rolled his eyes at me, he never answered the question. 

At his apartment he told me that he told some of his coworkers about my work, I asked him what prompted him to do that, he said that one of them has a daughter who just got into art school. He said he sent some of them my public portfolio to look at, he hoped that was okay, I said sure, it was. Then he asked me what was wrong, that I’d seemed off all of a sudden, a sense of relief washed over me, at least he noticed part of it. I told him I felt like he’d been rude to me all day. He apologized immediately, he said he was just stressed from work, that he guessed he was taking it out on me without realizing it. I don’t know if I believed him, but I said it was okay anyway. 

Arlo and I went on a picnic in the botanical garden. We had to take the 4 line, neither of us had ever taken it before. We accidentally got off a stop too soon and had to walk the rest of the way. I was annoyed, only slightly, but I don’t think that Arlo noticed, I wondered if he ever actually noticed those things. He held my hand while we walked, his was sweatier than usual, he gave my hand a squeeze every few minutes. 

I drew him in the garden. My favorite part about sketching was the sound the pencil made as it glided against the paper. Arlo wouldn’t sit still, he kept reaching out to move the hair out of my face, I told him he was ruining my vision, he said I was his vision. I could tell he liked me a lot more than I liked him, there was something about the way his eyes bored into mine that made me feel funny inside, I knew I always looked away before he wanted me to. He asked me why I had to do that, I asked him what he meant and he said that I was never vulnerable with him. I told him I didn’t understand, I told him I had been plenty vulnerable, he said that he felt like he could never get close enough to me, I told him I felt like we were closer than I was ready for. He stood up and started to pace, I thought about how lucky we were that no one was around, I hated the thought of people hearing us argue. Then he stopped, he apologized and said he was being dramatic, he asked how he should sit for my drawing. He leaned so his elbows sat on top of his thighs and his green eyes looked up at me through his dark curls, he asked if this pose was good, I nodded. I tried to make the right shade of gray for his olive skin on the page, then I added shadows, then I gave him flowers for freckles. 

He reached out to touch my knee, his hand rested there. I settled, I didn’t realize there was tension in my body. Maybe he noticed it, I didn’t think so though. Maybe he did it to make himself feel better. 

Days passed, we got off the bus together, he asked if he could spend the night in my apartment, I told him I guessed that was fine. He dropped my hand, ran it through his hair, he paced. He said I was doing it again, I told him I didn’t know what he meant, he said I knew exactly what he meant. He said he wanted to be closer to me, he asked why I couldn’t allow myself to have strong feelings for him, and I, without really meaning to, told him that I didn’t know what I felt for him anymore. He paused. Then he said that maybe he was overreacting, that we should both just cool off and we’d talk later to decide when we should have dinner with my parents. I told him I wasn’t sure that was such a good idea anymore. He asked what I meant, I told him I didn’t want to see him for a while, I said I was confused, overwhelmed. He said I was being crazy, I told him I hated every time he said that word, I told him I hated feeling crazy.

I walked away from him and told him not to follow me, but he did. He was asking how things could have changed so quickly. I told him maybe they’d been like this the whole time and he just never noticed. I told him maybe things were always this way, and neither of us noticed. 

I kept walking to my apartment, he followed right behind me in silence. He asked me to let him in and I said no. 

Two drops of water raced each other down the window. I didn’t sit with Arlo today, or rather he didn’t sit with me. When he got on at 10th/Corpus he sat at the front of the bus, as he climbed up the steps his eyes didn’t even make their way up to look for me like they usually do. My mom used to tell me when I was a kid that I would know someone was my soulmate if I could feel them in a room without seeing them. I wondered if he felt me there, or if he would assume I was here because I always am. 

When we got to 2nd/Landon, he didn’t get off, he didn’t even look like he considered getting off, his eyes stayed focused on whatever was on the other side of the front windshield: streets, headlights, stop signs. 

We got to 1st/Maine, he stood up with intent and walked off the bus, I watched him as I gathered my things. I said goodbye to Bub, Arlo was waiting for me outside the door, I dreaded walking out equally as much as I wanted to be next to him. He didn’t say anything while we walked to my apartment, he didn’t reach for my hand on the sidewalk, or at the door, or on our way up the stairs. He asked me for a glass of water when we got inside and I brought it to my bedroom for him. He apologized for calling me crazy, then for the things he didn’t notice. He wrapped his arms around me when I crawled into bed. He said it’s over, isn’t it. I told him it had to be. 

When I woke up he was gone. I went to work on the 8, like normal, but when I got out of work I decided to take a different line, just in case Arlo might get on. The stop I had to get off on was much farther from my door than the 8 was, but I decided it wasn’t so bad. As I approached my building I could see the 8 line pulling up to the stop at 1st/Maine. I thought about turning back to wave at Bub, but I didn’t, maybe I would the following day, or the day after that. 

. . . 


It stopped raining at the beginning of June. Instead the days were hot, and so were the nights. The setting sun created a glare in the windshield. 

The old man stopped coming on the 8 line. The last time he was here he mentioned that his kids were helping him and his wife move into a nursing home. I felt I’d already forgotten the pattern of his broken capillaries, or the rhythm of his nod when he tipped his hat goodbye. The young boy, who I think ran track, didn’t get on the 8 line anymore either. School was probably out for the summer. The woman with the baby was still coming. Her baby’s hair was growing so long. The father and his daughter still came, but some days the father got on the bus alone. 

Sometimes Luz came, and sometimes she didn’t. The first time she didn’t come, I’d waited outside 8th/Anderson for an extra minute, then two, then three. I did the same thing the following day and the day after. 

On the fourth day, Luz came out of the bakery, white bags in hand. 

How you doin’, Bub? she asked. 

I’m doing alright, Sugar. I keep thinking about the way things change. 

Things have a way of doing that, don’t they? She set a bag on the dashboard for me. There were still two white bags in her hand. 

The new young man, whose face didn’t seem so new at all, got on at 10th/Corpus. I brought you something, she said to him. I looked in the rearview mirror to watch as she passed him a little white bag. I waited to hear him say ‘thank you’ but it never came. Have you talked to your mom about next weekend? he asked. 

Yeah, but her and my dad are busy. 

Oh, alright, maybe a different weekend then. 

Maybe. There was something uneasy in her voice. 

Maybe you and I can do something, still. I guess he didn’t hear the change in her words. Before I knew it the route hand ended, and it seemed the 8 line as I knew it had ended too. 

On a night when Luz wasn’t around , I talked to the woman who, I imagined, went dancing. As long as she had been on the bus, I hadn’t talked to her. She always went to sit further back on the bus. That day she sat behind me. 

The bus seems a little empty tonight doesn’t it? she asked. 

It feels that way a lot of the time lately. 

Does it get lonely for you? Seeing all these people and then knowing one day, without warning, they won’t come back? 

Well when you put it that way I might be. We both laughed. Her upper lip pulled back in her grin, I could see her deep pink gums. 

Don’t worry, Bub. Some of us will be around long enough that you’ll wish we’d leave. She rubbed my shoulder. 

Before she got off at 2nd/Landon I asked her, Where do you go? 

What do you mean? 

Where do you go when you leave the bus? 

She smiled. I go where I’m going now. 

Eventually, neither of them took the 8 line anymore. Not Luz nor the new young man. But some nights, after I’d made my last stop at 1st/Maine, I saw her crossing the street. I saw the same creases of her coat and flyaways in her hair. I watched her rush into the building on the next block, just to make sure she got in safe.

About The Author

I am a fiction writer and multimedia storyteller. I'm originally from a border town in South Texas called Laredo. I often write family stories about women from Mexican immigrant families. I also enjoy writing in the space between romance and literary fiction. I'm passionate about using fiction as a tool for advocacy and social justice and hope to build a career writing stories that can create change. My work has been published in Abandon Journal, West Trade Review, Outrageous Fortune and Nonbinary Review. I received my BA from the University of Rochester in Creative Writing. I currently live in NYC where I work at One Story.