Barrette

Her legs hang over the edge of the seat, swinging along with the rickety, natural movement of the bus. There is barely an inch between her soles and the grimy, urbanite floor, but her feet don’t quite touch down. A mint-colored bow graces her strawberry blonde hair. She stares at me. I smile warmly at her, but not even the slightest gesture warrants a response. Her glance is fixated on me; maybe, or through me. Suddenly, she looks away as if beckoned by her guardian.

“Sir,” a stern voice calls to me from the front. “Sir, this is the end of the line. You’re going to have to get off here,” the driver says. It is now that I realize the bus has been at a halt for some few minutes. I turn my attention back to the girl to wave goodbye, but she’s become absent.

“What happened to the girl that was just sitting over there?” I ask.

The driver shoots a wary glance at me. “Girl?” He starts. “Sir, you’ve been the only passenger for the past twenty-four stops. I’d begun to wonder if you had a destination.”

I slowly stand to my feet, now disoriented. I gather my belongings in preparation to exit the bus, and notice that in my left hand, the plastic bag handles I am clutching feel disrupted by something unlike plastic. I set the bag down.

I open my hand: The mint-colored bow, with a single strand of hair still attached, taunts me from the sweaty skin of my palm.

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