“Lady, on or off. Makes no difference to me, but pick one.” The driver looked down at her. Swallowing the lump in her throat, Janet took the step onto the bus. The step which ended a chapter in her life, a sweet chapter. The next step took her into a new one. It began with loving memories, but remained unwritten. It would not be as sweet. She sat by a window. All the better to stare blindly as she tried to forget love and stolen caresses.
He refused to see it. No matter what his family threatened, how her parents pleaded, he just didn’t get it. She wasn’t good enough for him. Tom Rawlings would run the family business one day, so long as he stayed away from her. Thomas Senior made himself clear enough. To her, anyway. Tom tried to reassure her. “They’ll come around, Janet. When they see how much we love each other, they’ll understand. It won’t matter once we’re married.” Married. Janet fought tears and looked at her bare hand. He’d have found the returned engagement ring and her letter by now.
She stared out the window. Deersfield was in the middle of nowhere. A long road led through the woods to the city. Late afternoon sunlight slanted through leaves, leaving long shadows. Janet didn’t notice the dappling light flashing through the window. She watched without seeing, too busy ignoring the tears trailing down her cheeks.
The rising tide of voices slid into Janet’s solitude. She turned to see people gathering near the back of the bus, excitement in the air. Underneath the burble of voices rode a buzzing noise. She knew that noise. Pulse pounding, she pushed her way through the people. Fear warred with anticipation as she made herself look through the back window. Tom sped up to the bus on his Ducati, the motorcycle’s distinctive engine screaming his impatience.
Could he see her in the window? She pulled back. He sped around the side of the bus and she followed, watching from the aisle. He waved to the driver to pull over. The bus continued, the driver shaking his head. As a truck appeared around a bend ahead, Tom quickly fell back. He trailed the bus. Janet fell into a seat at the back, rubbing at the bare spot on her finger as she watched.
Light glinted off a windshield in the distance. A car was speeding toward them, eating up the road. Its silver exterior glowed. Janet felt her stomach plummet, her body go limp with recognition. Thomas Senior’s Jaguar. Tom looked between his mirror and the bus. She gritted her teeth, containing a wail of despair as he pulled to the side of the road. The Jag pulled in behind Tom’s Ducati and Thomas Senior stepped out.
Their heated exchange was obvious even as the bus chugged down the long road through nowhere. Janet watched the silver Jag pull out and point toward Deersfield. She put her hand up to the window, reaching uselessly toward Tom. He stood by the bike, staring at the bus. She choked on a sob when he turned the bike around, following his father.
The bus went around a curve in the road, blessedly blocking her view of Tom’s choice. Janet returned to her seat, oblivious to the stares and whispers. Closure, she thought. She stared out the window, tears drying on her face. The woods of nowhere gradually gave way to suburbs, the city and her determination. She was finally somewhere.
© 2010 Jessica Rosen
Based on a #storystarters I contributed on Twitter some time ago. This is an experiment in a different genre of flash for me.