A cloud of charcoal smoke puffs out of the exhaust; you try not to breathe it in, but it makes your eyes water and a stray tear makes itself comfortable along your lashes. As it pulls up in front of you, you try not to let your pant legs splash in the puddle that sits to your right. Stamping your feet gets any extra snow to let up off the sides of your shoes and you take the small leap between the curb and the doors. Prying your fingers apart from the desperate hold you have them in, you up-end the warm, slightly moistened coins into the small machine, nodding to the driver and mumbling a rough ‘thank you,’ when offered a transfer.
Your fingers stiff and tingling with the chill, you rub them together, the vehicle stuttering and coughing to life, merging into traffic without ease but successfully. It’s late — other passengers are few and far in between and sleep sits in some of their movements. Their eyes are cast downward, coats pulled tight around necks and up to their ears, and as the bus shudders forward hands fly to the metal poles at their sides, eyes widening with the sudden precarious rocking of their tired bodies.
You can’t see out the windows. Only the blurry colours that the lights become, shadows that fall through the foggy glass and kiss your nose, cheeks pink. Running chilly fingers through your pockets, you find the stray tissue you shoved in there earlier in a moment of respect for the future. It feels rough on the raw skin of your nostrils, but it does the job.
You let out a breath that stuck in your lungs and shakily move your feet to a seat nearby. The rough texture of the material scratches against your pant leg and you close your eyes, shutting them tight before breathing out once more and begin to survey the people around you. They do the same, but before your eyes can meet, one or more persons will shift theirs discreetly and you imagine the silence to be the presence of the night. You are solitary, but in the company of wanderers, caught in the moments of their lives where they meet yours and you’ve become an entanglement of minutes together that are far longer for some and shorter for others. They are full with the tension of the night, you can feel it blow against your fringe and tap the tops of your hands. You think, as you glance at a woman with a small child in the seat next to her, small hands splayed out against the glass, that the eyes of the night are fickle, full of thorns, but loving in its cold blending of life. Phosphorescent, in the strokes of dying, breaths left of light, you close your eyes once more, the touch and go screeching brakes echoing between passengers. And for that last second, you revel in the silence but for the echoes, before you reach up with warmed fingers and pull on the tight cord, the ding the last thing to speak in phosphorescence.
This piece has been published in UWO’s Creative Writing Club Journal, Nom de Plume, Spring 2016 Edition. It can be found here.