Poison In The Eyes

You can tell by her legs, the way they quiver in the frigid wind, that she’s not fond of the cold. With each step her pace quickens in the slightest, her hurry to the bus shelter the only thought on her mind. Almost, almost… finally, behind the pane glass window she can escape the chill of the winter air. The elements are always clashing, yet the animate creatures of the earth manifest them harmoniously. Breath, drink, food, heat; air, water, earth, fire. Tapping her tattered red Converse shoes against the pavement to some fleeting internal rhythm, she sips her hot hot coffee and fantasizes an early bus arrival. Three tiny, brown sparrows pip at each other on the cold side of the glass; nearby them an elderly man with intricate tattoos puffs his cigarette the way a child holds their favourite stuffed animal. This is truly a passive moment, unremarkable in every way, like the times when sleep is devoid of dreams.

The mobile phone in her pocket buzzes anxiously; she chooses to leave it in her pocket. It’s either her roommate informing her of another obnoxious party this weekend or her boyfriend getting dramatic over his recently-broken foot. Best not to answer, since I’d tell them what I really think. Roommate: stop being so goddamn insecure. Boyfriend: I’m not your mother, your complaints are meaningless to me. “Fuck the world right now” she mumbles to herself.

Her attention turns again to the sparrows. There are now five of them hopping around the pavement. Is that how they keep warm? Surely. Oh, it would be nice to spread my wings and fly amongst them. To see the world from above, to move with the wind, to know only instinct and death. I already look down on most people, she jokes to herself. Like the sparrow I prefer to live in the moment, not in the past. And nobody can blame a sparrow for being itself.

The wind picks up again, screaming against the glass as it squeezes itself between the tightly packed buildings that define the street. The sky, dark with clouds, offers no comfort. In the distance she can see the bus approaching one block away. Almost here! Finally! She grasps all of the change in her right jeans pocket and counts it out into her left hand. One, two, three, four, five dollars, putting the rest away. Some days it’s worth the money to get home quicker, she says to herself with little conviction.

The yellow bus pulls in with perfect alignment to the curb, parallel to a lineup of eager riders. A frail looking teenager quietly mutters insults at the people in line ahead of him; none pay attention, for his presence is as meaningless as the moment. The smoking man takes the last puff out of his half-finished cigarette, dropping the roach in a handy fist-sized box that chokes out the embers with their own fumes. Saving the rest for later, how responsible. She drops the empty coffee cup into the trash and finds a well-lit seat in the back of the bus so she can comfortably dig into the book she’s been nibbling on for far too long. Only a few more chapters left, she rationalizes, but really her interest is superficial; she wants to finish it simply so she can say it was finished. She determined not long after the introductory chapter that the dense metaphors between the covers must appeal to those with a specific type of intellectual narcissism that she lacks.

Chapter Fifteen: Poison In The Eyes

Fluids keep the cell full, walls keep the cell whole. What kind of cell are you? Do you protect like a skin cell? Do you invigorate like a red blood cell? Do you stimulate like a nerve cell? We are all akin to cells, yet we are all made of cells. Poison infiltrates, attacks, degenerates, discolours, stains the whole. Sickness festers because that is its purpose. Chaos erupts between the walls, corrupts the fluids…”

A loud conversation between two people on the bus distracts her while her eyes continue mindlessly tracing the words across the page. After a brief lapse of intention she realizes that the page has ended, but she decides to move on rather than reread the dense dribble.

“…can the lens of the microscope be turned upon itself? The process of magnification is doubly the process of examination. Self-examination, introspection, is flawed if there is poison in the eyes of the beholder. Self-diagnosis is often the most harmful type of diagnosis, for sickness is both a state of health and a state of mind.”

Enough. She closes the book and absently looks out the window at the people on the street, her foot tapping to the same unconscious rhythm as before. I need to get out of here, out of this awful reality that nobody wants to live in. As the bus approaches its next stop she impulsively stands up and prepares to exit, deliberately leaving the book in her place. “This isn’t my stop, and that’s the point” she remarks internally. As she thrusts herself through the bus door into the darkness of the city a thin snowfall joins the misery of the wind, chilling her instantly. Where to from here?

When did I become so bitter?

(more to come)

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