Crossing continents

I climbed back onto the Greyhound, the smell now familiar to me after twenty four hours of travel on this thing; dust mixed with chemical pine from the air freshener hanging from the mirror. I walked towards my seat, my home, at the back of the bus. The pine smell retreated as I walked, and the smell of the toilets increased.

Id set off from L.A the day before, a smog-filled frantic city, and it felt like an escape being on the bus. At least at first. My destination, Miami, was over two thousand miles away, and hours of travelling stretched out before me. The original plan was to snake across North America, but the truth is, I was skint, and the challenge was just to get across the continent as cheaply as possible to make my flight home. There was something of the Jack Kerouac in my new plans, and I liked to pass the time drawing comparisons.

The bus rumbled off, alive with a comforting chatter, and I sat snuggled into my window seat, staring out at the changing landscape. The scorched ground of New Mexico glowed red in the setting sun, and I longed to be walking over it, experiencing the place, not just zooming past. I was chewing my lip when I was interrupted by a man asking if I had ever been in any films. I looked over at him, he was sat on the other side of the bus, but had turned to face towards me, jean covered knees pointing in my direction. He was wearing a waistcoat which can only be described as jazzy; bright and colourful, punctuated by large sewn on musical notes. The effect was of something similar to Timmy Mallet. I replied that I had not, and he started getting really excited, jumping all over the place at my English accent. He told me hed make me famous, and gave me his number to call if I ever ended up in New York. I did eventually reach New York, but I never rang him.

Another pit stop, off and on, faces Id become used to going their separate ways, and new faces getting on. I listened to the same song ten times over just to pass the time. Texas, Louisiana, Alabama.

Another pit stop, off and on, faces change again. I cant find a position to get comfortable in and Ive gone all the way through the only album I have for my CD player twice. I touch my forehead and it feels greasy and I know that me and the toilets are entering into some unspoken competition of Who will be the smelliest? at the end of the journey.

A lady two rows in front began to sing. Quietly at first, she sang with sadness, drowned out by the voices around her. But gradually the notes became louder, until there was silence except for her sombre words. The bus was united, all listening to the words coming from her lips. She sang about sorrow and loss, and I wondered what her story was. When she had finished, the people sitting near her began to clap, and it spread like a Mexican wave until we were all clapping. Sometimes, I guess I liked being on this bus.

H Price

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