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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Sad (07/26/07)

TITLE: The 7:15 to Westside
By Deanna Wessel


September 10th. I pulled the door to my second floor apartment closed behind me. I was headed to the bus stop at Third and Haney. Id been riding the 7:15 to Westside for about a year, ever since the old Escort gave up the ghost. It turned out to be a great thing. For some reason, Id always dreaded riding a city bus to work; thought it was somehow beneath me, but the two buck a day fare saved loads of money.

It was usually the same crew waiting there. Some arrived before me and others always managed to get there at the last possible moment.

There was the young up-and-coming executive. Im pretty sure his name was Carl. Though he was certainly too busy to talk to anyone. He was probably in his mid-twenties. He talked to the air about his latest and greatest deal with his blue-tooth plugged securely into his freshly scrubbed ear. He wore designer suits and carried a fancy leather portfolio.

Gary was another thing. Hed arrive twenty or thirty seconds before the big blue behemoth would roll to a stop near the curb. Occasionally, fuzzy brown hair waved on the back of his head; an indication that hed risen much too late for a shower. His dated and worn shirts were wrinkled and untucked. He didnt wear a wedding ring and sometimes reeked of day old alcohol.

Then, there was Ruth, grandma to all of us on the week-day morning crew. At least one day a week shed bring cookies or donuts and give some to everyone waiting. I dont remember ever seeing her in anything other than black knit slacks and a neatly pressed pink smock. Ruth volunteered at University Hospital, just two blocks from the office where I worked.

The other regular at Third and Haney was a girl who looked to be in her early twenties. I couldnt remember ever seeing anyone talk to the girl before. There was something about her that just seemed so sad. She sat alone, shoulders bent slightly forward, head eyes rarely looking at anything but the ground in front of her.

Once, months earlier, Id noticed that the girl arrived with a fresh bruise on her cheek and puffy, red-rimmed eyes. Id wanted to talk to her then, but something stopped me. What if she blurted out a story I didnt want to hear? What if she turned out to be needy or clingy? What if she asked me for something I couldnt give? I simply couldnt have dealt with it. So, I chose to ignore the sad, young girls unspoken plea for a friend.

September 10th, though, something was different. I dont really have any idea what the difference was. Was it in me or in the young woman or maybe both? Whatever the case, something was definitely different on that particular morning. The metro bus stopped just feet away. The young girl stood and glanced over her shoulder at me. Her overwhelming sadness and sense of desperation leaped from her eyes into my own. There was no denying her cry for help and there was no way for my heart to set aside what had transpired in that simple, powerful look.

I prayed for wisdom as I wanted to be the last one to board the bus that day. Id reached a decision; one Id often in the past few months wished I could do over. I climbed the bus steps; walked down the aisle, and stopped next to the seat where the sad young woman sat slumped against the dirty window.

Hi, my name is Emma. Can I sit with you today?

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This article has been read 395 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Clyde Blakely08/03/07
Intriguing story with good desciptions of characters.

So much is left out though; I'm sure for the word count limit.

Sept 10th leaves the reader wandering is there's a connection to 9/11.

What's the sad girl's story?

And why did you wish you had made a different decision to talk with her (for months)?

I liked the story very much, well written, I just want to know more - please more!

Marilyn Schnepp 08/04/07
Extremely well written and very, very much - a page-turner; but I felt all the way through that the shy girl wouldn't be at the bus stop after 9/11; but the story went unfinished. Loved it from the Title to the unfinished ending, however. Good, No!...EXCELLENT job of writing, intriguing the reader and a mystery of an ending. Kudos!
Marie Fieldman08/05/07
I like the main character's final descision. The variety of characters was interesting. I wonder why Ruth didn't talk to the girl , though.