Improved Sight Lines

Back to school.

Back to school.

When the sun rose on those mornings, I couldn’t see it. I knew it rose in the east, and I know the silhouettes of the mountains were in the east. I shuffled into line and could make out the other figures in the line of the bus on those mornings. We couldn’t see the stars and in that dim, ultraviolet light I still had coffee on my teeth and wish I’d brought it with me. The ground was the color of coffee with cream. Stray slips of paper flitted across the concrete. The streetlights hung orange in the light and around them the vibrating early morning light made me feel empty and kind of sad just to be in it. Even the jay, caught perfectly between two trees on the power line didn’t cheer me. Normally, I slept at this time of the day but those days were gone now or least until better times returned. Everyone lacked confidence in everything else. People used to smile when I was at the bus stop before. Maybe it was because it was summer. Now they didn’t look at one another. I didn’t sleep as I used to on the bus either. Instead, I gazed out the window at the shadows, the long asphalt roads empty of cars; there were too many people on the bus and stories had gone around about people falling asleep and waking to find their electronics had been lifted. I still had a handful of gadgets from the good times – my cell phone, an ebook reader, a functioning ipod. A lot of people could afford these things still or made ways to afford them, but a lot of us couldn’t either. It was if a film had been pulled over the world, and we could barely see through it. By the time I got off the bus, the sun had come up and filtered through the scrim of clouds, casting sharp shadows. The blue gravel was now white and black in the shadows each piece of rock cast off. I stopped under the cedar tree. I was always about fifteen minutes late. No one gave me flack about it though because being late was how everyone was anymore. If I were fired, I would find another job like this – they had to hire native born for this work. My manager was from Brazil. He wore a t-shirt and jeans. We wore uniforms so that they could easily see us coming down the hallways.

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