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The Girl on a Bus

She boarded the dusty bus carrying an infant seat with a sleeping child. Her long hair fell in her face, on purpose. The bus was almost full. She was careful not to make eye contact while she glanced at available seats looking for someone who might not mind sitting next to a girl with a baby. She settled next to a grandmotherly lady, thinking she might be kind. She needed kindness. She didn’t know the woman was on a weekend trip to escape her three grandchildren that she took care of full-time. She found that out later, once the woman warmed to her. It was a long bus ride, almost eight hours. The baby was good and the woman helped the girl with him, like when she had to walk to back of the bus to use the restroom. There were three guys in the back that made her uneasy, one saying, hey baby, when she walked by. She didn’t go back there again. She was going to see her brother and his family. He had no idea why, thinking she just wanted a change of scenery for a few days. He hadn’t met the baby yet. He was busy with two kids of his own. She hoped she could bring herself to tell him why she was really there, but she never did. They were never very close. She was quiet. He asked her if anything was wrong. She said everything was fine. On the third day he told her she should put the baby down once in awhile. He said she didn’t have to hold him all the time. She didn’t want to put her baby down. At the end of the visit, he drove her back home, taking half the time of the bus ride. She was still quiet. He dropped her off. She walked into an empty house. She smelled something foul. She put the baby in his crib, then stepped into a kitchen full of four days worth of dirty dishes and began cleaning.

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