THERE IS A LIZARD ON THIS BUS
 
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- by rheea mukherjee
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Weary, at the end of your day, you enter an evening bus. You attach seamlessly with the rest of flesh in the vehicle. Tch, tch, someone inevitably makes this sound, tch, tch, as you step on that someone’s shoes. Tch, tch, as you crash onto the back of another, the bus lunges forward. You dance with the rest. Sway left, gather momentum, then sway right. You step on someone’s feet again. Tch, tch. A lady in a blue sari glares at you. From her arms fly the sweet dying smell of perfume muddled in sweat. A middle-aged man brushes his elbow against your breast as he makes commendable progress narrowing then ballooning his body through our collective. You catch your reflection in the large glass windows. You see yourself a part of many; a goddess with many heads, numerous arms. A clumsy sort of holiness; tch, tch, glare, sway.

 You do the usual things to entertain yourself. Consider your height amongst the rest and find the crowed average. You are approximately taller than half the people on this bus. You see a man sitting in between the seats. A small space that he has cleverly made his home. He is well dressed. His legs twisted up, squeezed, so others don’t trip. 

He looks like sage on a mountain sitting in padmasna. He has found a way to be part of us, yet equally detached. He smiles impishly, neither in triumph nor with ill intent to display his better positioning on the bus. His smile suggests this plan of action for all. You find different ways to look at him. Once directly with you neck turned at a painful angle. Smile. Sway. Your shoulder cuts the edge of another’s. Tch, tch. 

The next time you catch his reflection from the window. The bus conductor looms over you to double check if you bought a ticket. Too many people make him forget.

The next time you place your arm on the handle above diagonally and rest your head on it. You close your eyes. You realize you can play peek-a-boo with him, raise your head every ten seconds and look at his reflection. He catches you at your game, his lips still impish. His eyes glow, his face contorts into malleable skin. He could look like someone you’ve known.

Sway, jerk left, and switch your footing.  A woman steps on your feet. But you don’t tch, tch, since the movement is such and it can’t be helped.

 You look back to the small space between the seats. He looks like a lizard, tiny but content with his space, nodding his head left and right to the music on his iPod. Headlights from outside cut through the glass windows, into the bus and onto his skin that seems to turn as green as the shirt he is wearing.

When you look again, he is gone, leaving his space a black hole in the vastness of flesh.  You look out of the window in search of him. He has disappeared into another crowd, a new land-walking mass. 

You feel the night air prick his face, feel the itchy-buzz of mosquitoes dancing around his puma-clad feet. You hear the music in his earphones. You are walking with him, moving through people, even as you are trapped here, in one position, in the middle of all.

You push gently against the woman in the blue; you find his space and arrange yourself into it. You don’t look nearly at home as he did sitting here. But you look like you could’ve been anyone, with your legs twisted up, squeezed in, so that others don’t trip.

 
 
was published in November 2016
 
 
categories
 
Fiction
    Flash Fiction
    Short Story
Non-Fiction
    Essay
    Interview
    Narrative
Poetry
 
 
 
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top articles in Fiction
 
  THERE IS A LIZARD ON THIS BUS
Weary, at the end of your day, you enter an evening bus. You attach seamlessly with the rest of flesh in the vehicle. Tch, tch, someone inevitably makes this sound, tch, tch, as you step on that someone’s shoes. Tch, tch, as you crash onto the back of another ...
 
 
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