Bus Stop Connection (March 2019, Week 1, Day 2)
The bus stop was empty as she dragged herself and her suitcase into the relative protection of the three walled shelter. After she’d snapped her fingers four times in thanks for its dryness, she lowered herself onto the bench, using her suitcase to slow down her approach. The only thought in her mind was that this would be a reasonable place to die if the bus never got there.
That thought wasn’t unusual for Artemis. She’d been thinking about how she might die since her mother died at the tender age of thirty two. Every location was sized up for how long it would take for her body to be found, what might happen to her body between her death and that discovery, what her last images might be, who might be there to bear witness. All normal thoughts for Artemis, and she was smart enough to keep them to herself.
“Nice evening for a bus ride.”
“Where’d you come from?” Artemis had only looked down long enough to check the time.
“I’ve been here, waiting for a bit, actually.”
“You were not sitting there when I walked up.”
“But I was! I saw you pulling that bag up the hill. Saw you sit down gingerly – are you hurt, or just tired?”
Artemis tightened her grip on her suitcase handle and moved her ample behind away from her surprise bench mate. She was sure she had been alone. Almost definitly sure.
“I’m just fine, thank you.”
“Oh, good! I know you’ve been looking forward to this trip. It would be terrible for you to be unable to enjoy it.”
Artemis stood up. “Ok – who the hell are you and where did you come from?”
The stranger stood up, too, and extended a well-manicured hand to her in greeting. “Helen. My name is Helen.”
Artemis scoweled at the hand and didn’t return the gesture. “I don’t know you, Helen, and don’t know why you know about me or my trip. And no way in hell I just didn’t notice you when I came up here. You’ve got two choices: explain or listen to my screams for help.”
Helen raised both hands and took three steps back. “No need for screams. I’m not here to hurt you.”
“I don’t care what you think you’re here for. I want to know who you are and why you seem to know things you shouldn’t and what the hell is going on. Ten seconds.”
Helen deflated and collapsed onto the bench like a rag doll. “Right, ok. I screwed up. Please don’t scream.”
Artemis folded her arms. “Five seconds.”
“I’m here to help you.” Helen shouted the words at the concrete beneath the bench, clamped her hands over her ears, and tensed.
“What in the hell- Sit up, Helen. No need to go all twitchy on me. Just tell me what’s going on.”
Helen slowly straightened up and turned to face Artemis. “I’m not actually supposed to answer that question. It could make things much worse if I do.”