The heat is what drove her to near madness. The desert was not kind to visitors mid-summer, nor did it care to have anyone spoiling its serene botany and verdant wildlife. If it were a person, if it dwelt among us in human form, the desert would be a harsh lover with a heart of stone, one who only made contact with others to fulfill its need for rainwater.
Josephine took a seat on the dry and dusty bench, setting her purse down next to her. Surprisingly, the bench looked like it hadn’t been used in quite some time. But if the rumors were to be believed, this bench was used every day, three times a day, at 10am, 1pm, and 5:26pm – an odd time indeed.
The arthritis in her knees flared up from her long journey here. The path to the crappy bench had been a long one and had offered no beautiful scenery along the way. Nor did it offer rest stops, bathrooms, or a cool breeze.
Good thing she wore diapers on this little journey.
Although, it wasn’t really a little journey.
The bus would be by soon, if the rumors were true, and when it came, she would haul her human sack of bones and flesh up the three tiny steps and melt into one of the cushioned seats…assuming the bus had cushioned seats. She hoped it did, because the ride was sure to be long.
She turned her creaking neck to the left and peered down the long dirt road in the hopes of spotting the bus, or at least a dust devil to let her know it was coming. Nothing.
She waited. Glancing at her watch – a piece of gold heirloom junk she picked up at Goodwill – she realized it was a few minutes past 1pm. The heat was becoming unbearable, and she could feel the sweat oozing down her back and across her flabby stomach.
She hated Arizona.
A jackalope skittered past her, and she watched it carry on down the road, where she saw a cloud of dirt billowing up like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon. She took hold of her purse, stood to her feet, and waited for the bus. It rolled to a stop in front of her, coating her face and bare legs with sand and dirt. She spit the granules from her mouth as the bus door opened.
Above her, at the top of the three steps, sat the driver, an older gentlemen with a black fog hat and a black suit. She climbed the steps, one by one, and when she reached the top, she gazed down the aisle. The seats were full of people, young and old. Everyone had a bag. Everyone had a smile.
She turned to the driver. “I hear this goes to Providence?”
He nodded, but his eyes were full of despair. “Yeees, but you need a ticket.”
He nodded again. “Ticket.”
She set her purse on the nearest seat, rustled through it as if she expected to find the thing she knew she did not have. After dramatizing her lack thereof, she took hold of her purse again and nodded to the driver. “I do not have a ticket, it seems. I think I may have lost it.”
He pointed to the open door behind her. “No ticket, no ride.”
“But it’s time for me to go to Providence. I just lost my ticket, that’s all.”
The man shrugged curtly. His eyes remained full of despair, but there was something else there now – pity. “No ticket…no ride. You can get tickets from the Man.”
“I don’t care for him none,” she grumbled. “Ticket is too expensive. I’d have to cash in my savings, sell all my things, just for his damn ticket.”
The driver shrugged again.
She backed down the steps and stepped off the bus. The doors swung shut. The bus drove off, kicking dirt and sand in her face.
She took a seat on the old wooden bench, set her purse on it, and stared off in the distance.
The jackalope returned and took a seat on the ground a few feet from her. It used its hind leg to scratch its ear.
“I’m not buying a ticket from the Man, bunny rabbit. No way. I guess I won’t be going to Providence.”