The stars gaze at us, our heads down, too tired to marvel at the expansiveness of the universe. As my steps echoed among the concrete, vibrations hitting only a few cars and the night beasts at the door, I made my way to the 5 AM bus. The metal demon-spirit-machine that took us into the bowls of 9 million, to do what we all are seemingly doing – to work.
I didn’t do this often, and sometimes I questioned my motivations. Today, I had just decided to get into work early, be more productive, do more work, be better. A choice, I said, all my own.
But as I arrived, predicting to stand beneath the cosmos alone, I found myself among silent souls, also were waiting for the 5 AM bus. Only a cool breathing in the precursor to another infernos summer day could be heard, and maybe the tumbling of a foot that wanted to rest in a bed instead of standing on the concrete. I imagined the lives I saw before me, half lit bodies in the shapes of exhaustion and tiredness. I thought to myself – I guess some people have no choice but to get up this early to work – but as quickly as I thought it, I metaphorically jabbed myself with a disciplinary sword.
Just as I had chosen to take the 5 AM bus, so did these people about me. To do anything is a choice, even if the choice is limited to doing something or not doing it, they made a choice to get up, get ready, and get to the bus stop. I was not special or better. I was their kin, not even that, more like stranger-intruder-kin, as this was not the bus I would normally take. This was not my clan, but they silently accepted my presence.
As the demon-spririt-machine rolled up, its metallic skin with slight dew, the bodies entered its stomach to get lost in the dark. Our brown skin was caressed by the shadows, hiding us from each other as we sat down and claimed the space we paid for. Even those with white skin faded, though they were more discernible even in the dark, perhaps a metaphor for their visibility in the daylight hours.
As the bus made its journey, it swallowed more and more people, most with darker skin than I or them or us, each caressed by the shadows and engulfed in the wanderings of early cosmic energy, maybe thinking about how where the sun is risen people are joyous or burning or simply doing nothing an maybe doing everything. The bus fills up, almost to capacity. The hour is late, the hour is early, the hour is blessed.
I look into the dawn, orange streams in the sky, the navy river blue turning lighter with every minute. The 5AM bus isn’t bad, just a silent, lonely, majestic demon-spirit-machine, carrying with it dreams and hopes and choices. We see the day before most. Better to see it sooner than let history drift beyond you while you sleep, says a soul right next to me.