A Snow Bus to Los Angeles
On her way out, Evelin told the doctor she was grateful for the prescriptions. They made her feel relaxed and agreeable. The doctor didn’t look at her, but seemed to nod at someone else on the other side of the hall. She exited the back of the hospital and went directly to the bus stop. She noticed her blouse was damp with perspiration and searched for an area of shade. She found a cool square near the bus sign and stood there wiping the sweat from her forehead. When she tried to read the sign, the words moved like waves breaking over the shore. She rubbed her eyes and looked again. Austin. Tallahassee. Atlanta. New York. Everywhere except Los Angeles.
Evelin looked out at the open road and noticed a group of kids performing string tricks with a yo-yo. It moved like a pendulum with an off beat rhythm. Before she made the decision in her mind to approach, her feet were advancing across the street. As she came closer to their faces she noticed only one of them was a kid. The other two were short men with beards. Through their hooded sweaters she could see they were unusually hairy. The hair was over their hands and neck. Their mouths were inherited from a different species. Not human. She ignored the strangeness and asked, “I want to get to Los Angeles. Please, can you help me?”
“What’s in the bag?” asked the taller one.
“Prescriptions. For my mother,” she lied. She pointed to the bus stop. “Does that go to Los Angeles?”
“Did you read the sign?” asked the other one.
“I tried to, but there’s something wrong with my eyes.”
They laughed and resumed their yo-yo games. Discouraged, Evelin walked back to the stop and tried to read the sign again. The words were scrolling unevenly and the city she needed wasn’t there. As the hours passed, she watched the sun turn fiery orange and descend behind the mountains. It slowly dawned on her that she didn’t know where she was. She knew what it felt like, but she was certain that finding herself near the Border was impossible. That was a memory from another life.
Merriment drifted from the other side of the road. They were throwing the yo-yo out in front of their faces, and laughing as it came back. At that moment, a man appeared along the curb. He was standing on the edge looking down at the desolate road. His perplexed expression seemed misplaced. It fit on someone standing on the edge of a massive cliff. The look on his face changed into wonder and surprise as he jumped down about half a foot down onto the street. He seemed to be falling. Evelin stared, puzzled by the strange man who stood on the road, his hands flapping about, mouth gaping wide. She thought about touching him. Nudging him out of his daydream, but remembered her city; she sat down on the bench and opened the white bag.
Inside she found several bottles of aspirin, sleeping pills, and vitamins. She tossed them aside when she discovered a living thing resting at the bottom of the bag. A sagebrush flower. A pleasant aroma. Evelin drew its scent into her and leaned back.
“What are you doing here?” asked the daydreaming man.
“Waiting,” she replied. She’d forgotten about her city. In the distance something was speeding their way. It was surrounded by dust and smoke. They watched it mount the pavement and almost hit the sign. The doors opened and the icy interior closest to the door turned into water as it came into contact with the evening heat.
The daydream man entered the bus and disappeared into its glacial bowels. Evelin was still twirling the sagebrush in her hand when the driver said, “Are you going somewhere?”
“I can’t remember anymore,” she said.
“Get in,” he said. “Wherever you’re going, you’re going to need me to get there.”
Evelin shrugged and left the familiar warmth of the old memory to enter a chilly mist. She found a window seat and turned around to look at the yo-yo players. Where they stood she saw a Missing Person sign with a photo of the kid. The confusion was brief; Evelin’s mind cluttered the worry with a new feeling. She remembered she wanted to go to LA and looked into the driver’s rear view mirror. He was gone. Evelin got up, leaving the white bag on the seat beside her and discovered the snow bus was driving itself.
When she tried to grab the steering wheel, an invisible force jerked it away from her. She thought she saw a human outline in the driver’s seat and took a step backwards. She felt the glassy walls pierce through her blouse and cried out.
“Where are we?” she asked, shivering. “I need to get back to LA.”
“We’re on edge of your world,” said a chorus of people. The empty seats were suddenly filled with passengers. Evelin hurried back to her seat and kept her eyes on the scenery, the sagebrush pressed close to her heart. One way or another, as the strangeness peaked, she would reach Los Angeles.