Public Transit

By Regina Peters

The 211 bounced and rattled down the highway through Dorval in its usual nauseating fashion as I clung to the sweat-slick handrail to keep from falling over. The knot of roads outside looked like gray cement spaghetti, winding over and under and around each other under an equally gray sky. A cool breeze from the open window brushed my forehead, only slightly relieving the fug of gasoline and cigarettes around me. Since I started taking the bus, it seems like that smell has taken up a permanent residence in my nose.

The two Asian men in the seats in front of me were having a long, involved discussion in a harsh, guttural language that sounded vaguely like Chinese. The blonde girl behind them made a call on her cell phone: Hey, I'm on the bus...be there in like fifteen minutes, okay?...Yeah...See ya. A black-eyed woman in a light blue hijab was absorbed in a paperback novel. A skinny boy half-drowned by his baggy clothes was nodding to the beat of his iPod.

The driver slammed the brake, making the bus come to a stomach-lurching stop. The others were secure in their seats, but I was swung around like a bag of cement and nearly knocked off my feet into the blonde's lap; I grabbed the rail with aching fingers just in time.

"Whoops!" I squeaked. "Sorry!"

Nobody looked up.