Dream of the Missed Bus

The bus that can take me where I need to be is on time, but I canít cross the street because of traffic to reach it. All I can do is watch as it picks up its passengers and pulls away without me although there is another in half an hour so I wait, resigned to being late by thirty minutes. Thirty minutes isnít much so I stand until the next bus stops and climb aboard and pay my fare and sit in a window seat and watch the streets slip past. Then it stalls. Halfway to my stop it gives up the ghost and all passengers get off. The others have portable telephones. I recognise a friend and ask if I can use hers. But I canít find the card with the number to call among all the papers in my briefcase. Now Iím stuck with no way to declare that it isnít my fault that Iím late, that Iím leaking time and sinking fast.

Soon, a small carriage arrives and I climb up into that, ever hopeful of finding a way. We progress along a narrow, streamside path, unexpectedly in a

forest that reminds me of one where I once heard the song of a nightingale thrush melt into that of an antbird. Slowly we pass through green shadows until the wheels slip on mud and we clamber to stay on the bank while the carriage goes down in the stream. Even if I get there now, time will be short. Those who wait for me will be impatient and leave. Surprisingly, a stranger with authority walks toward those of us still hoping to salvage whatever remains of the day and leads us to a motor coach fitted with conveniences for preparing a meal and seats that are soft to soak up our impatience when we sit in them.

I am the most impatient person here. These comforts donít impress me. Neither does the attention of the staff intent on making the best impression possible. I know itís a sham, the way they pretend to care about my every need. Iím late. Iím guilty. I ask to be let off and itís the wrong street but Iím ready to walk. Iíll never make it now, I know, but Iím walking on my own two feet. Iím lost and getting loster. Left, right, left, right. Someone has to wonder where I am.

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