There were five unfamiliar young men at the stop, sitting in a row on the bench beneath the bus shelter. For the first time, I saw Smoking Man -- who has always before been sitting on the shelter bench, smoking -- standing. He had a brown paper lunch bag in his hand, and he wasn't smoking.
Neither Postman nor BK Worker were there.
The Rockhill bus pulled up just as I reached the stop, I got on, and fed in a $0.75 card that I'd gotten as "change" from a bus last week, and put in a quarter to make up the fare, while the driver handed me my transfer. Emerald City has what it calls "Ozone Alert" days, where the fare is only a quarter, for certain days during the summer. Hot days are almost always "Ozone Alert". I am skeptical of the science involved, but I don't mind saving the 75 cents. Except that some days I don't have a quarter, or I feed in my dollar before the driver catches me to tell me it's an "Ozone Alert" day. Last week I hadn't had the quarter. This was the first morning that I'd remembered the change card and I didn't see the "Ozone Alert" sign up. It's been hot the last few days. Cheap fares.
I had a start as I walked to the back to take a seat.
This morning I'd dreamt I was riding on the bus, and had got into one of those odd debates one occasionally has with fellow riders on the bus. I was arguing warmly for my point -- I don't remember what it was -- and another woman disputed it. She was tall and broad, with long black hair parted in the center, and round black glasses, and she leaned her hand, hard, on my shoulder when she argued with me. I didn't mind her arguing, but I resented the hand on my shoulder and asked her to remove it. She refused, saying something like "You started it."
In the dream, I'd turned to stare straight ahead, telling her, "I shall never speak to you again. Take your hand from my shoulder." I was furious. I wanted to say something about how wrong it was to retaliate physically against a verbal debate that wasn't personal anyway, but I couldn't figure out how to say it. I woke up then, my shoulder tingling (I probably had been sleeping on it in an odd position). I couldn't think who the woman from the dream was, though she looked vaguely familiar. I think in my dream I had christened her "Brenda".
She was riding the Rockhill bus this morning; she's a semi-regular rider, though I've not mentioned her before. She's made no particular impression on me, other than by the starkness of her hair -- it's so black it looks dyed, almost fake, like a fluffed Elvira wig -- and the coarse whiteness of her skin.
But I remember her now. I don't know why my subconscious picked her out to cast in this dream.
After we reached my stop, the driver handed me my quarter back. Today was an Ozone Alert day, after all.