on a bus after midnight

In the terminal, a man’s stomach flows down past his belt, past his shirt in a pale flop. A scar on his bald forehead is like the Nike swoosh, a fleshy check mark. He smiles at me; I smile back.

In the bathroom, the toilet paper strings out across the floor and one dingy footprint tracks across it. At a corroded mirror, I drag fingers under my eyes, trying to clear up smudged mascara. I make it worse.

The bus driver is peppy, all things considered. He wears a shield pin upside down on his hat and checks off our names on his metal clip board.

On the bus, my seatmate scrunches her curly, greying hair in her left hand. Whenever our eyes meet, we smile. After a couple times, I avoid looking her way.

The boy across the aisle laughs easily. He streams Spanish at me as we play peekaboo, and his chubby laughs turn into roars as he ducks behind his mother’s shoulder. She is sleeping, and I should be, too, but my body and brain aren’t on speaking terms recently.

Eventually I open my Bible. I am as always surprised by my thirst for the words, and my hunger to do right by them. Once I start underlining, I can’t stop, and the page is scrawled quickly with my attempts at understanding.

He knows the story behind their tattoos and why she holds that manila folder so tightly and what they’re all doing on a bus with me, long past midnight. They have each a story I’ll never know but He does. Maybe I’ll sleep soon, after I post this. Maybe not. Either way, I’m riding a bus across the country, and with me are a score of souls all for their own destination. And if that isn’t magic past midnight, what is?

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