Friday, February 19, 2016
The bus plows through the blizzard until a shapeless whiteout swallows the world. I brace myself against the seat in front of me and grab the arm of the woman sitting by my side. I sense her resentment but there’s no time to explain. The driver, blind as a bat, taps the brakes. The bus skids for a couple of hundred feet before it hits the railing on the side of the road. It isn’t a violent crash by any means yet it’s strong enough to knock one of the passengers, a young girl, off her seat. She removes her headphones with shaky hands, her purple hair’s all messed up.
The engine whines before the driver reaches for the ignition switch and kills it. The smell of fear pours like a thickly slime along the aisle. Groans of panic rise before the manic storm mercilessly silences them all.
“Is anybody hurt? You’re Okay ma’am? How about you, sir? Good!” The bus driver yells at the top of her voice, going around, visually checking the fifteen passengers, one by one. A man, wearing a toque on his bald head, helps the driver get the girl to her feet. His goatee is made up of long, scarce hairs, like the beard of a real goat. The woman by my side forgets or forgives me. She searches her purse frantically for her cellphone. We’re out of coverage, but she doesn’t know it yet.
“Calm down everybody, please. They will send another bus for us soon. Just stay in your seats while I call for help.” The driver doesn’t know that the cellular tower closest to us was just knocked out of service. No one’s coming till morning. We’re stranded in the eye of a snow storm twenty kilometers south of Ottawa for the next fourteen hours. I, of course, know. I know everything.
The bus driver, Ellen Thompson, is on brink of divorce. She would make out with her husband tomorrow. Over the next few months they would try to glue the broken pieces of their marriage back together, but he’s dying. Cancer would spread undetected until it would be too late. He has less than a year to live.
After refreshing her makeup, the purple girl puts her headphones back on and stares out of the window. She would bounce back and forth between meth addiction and recovery, until her neighbors, alarmed by the foul smell coming out of her apartment, would call the police. They would find her dead. Strangled.
The man with the goatee too. Tragedy would strike him one day. He would lose a yet unborn son. I grab my head with both hands and cry.
“Are you Okay?” Brenda asks. She would become my girlfriend but only for a short while. She would do her best to cope with my mood swings, to break through the wall I have built around myself. But eventually, I would wear her down. How could I ever tell her. I know everything.