Illustration by Sendra Uebele

Waiting, on the Big Blue Bus

"In her seat now, with no eyes on her and her own set firmly on busy and unfamiliar streets, everything dripped with glamour."

Her third unwanted penis came on the Big Blue Bus. The first two were elsewhere. At the close of her first year of high school, in response to what her mother coined her chronic demotivation, Julia flew across the country, to stay with her uncle in Venice for the summer months. In the rent controlled one-bedroom bungalow that his landlord desperately wanted him out of. His landlord cut the forsythia that he had tenderly planted, his landlord allowed his mint leaves to wither. But Julia’s uncle stayed; he clung to the house and he covered its walls with posters of the Beach Boys and for Terms of Endearment. Shirley Maclaine smiled down at him. He let Julia take the bedroom when she arrived—he slept on the couch, tiptoeing through the room to use his bathroom. He was gone from seven in the morning until ten at night, at an office complex in Studio City. Gray-walled and hardly windowed, he proofread for a lawyer and dreamed about acting. 

Julia’s uncle left his apartment in Queens in the ‘80s when all of his friends began, suddenly and rapidly, dying. He flew to warmth, to where winters were rumored to spend the summer. The days on which he received news, a hospitalization or a funeral that he would miss, he could at least look at the Pacific. He rented the cramped bungalow with windows that opened to salt air for the small sum of money he had. He shared the lot with a man named Sonny who’d lived there thirty years; they planted the forsythia and the mint, an orange tree, together. They walked to the boardwalk in the mornings with Sonny’s one-eared dog. They passed through homes of campervans, portrait artists with their single-easel stands, the smell of charcoal and cumin. Sonny no longer lived in the lot; a thirty-year old who worked for Google and kept his shades drawn replaced him. Multi-family homes were torn down in favor of glass condominiums; the campervans and encampments along the sand were replaced by startup offices, marked in small-fonted signage. The vans and the tents and the people who lived inside them were now sequestered to a strip of pavement, alongside a public storage facility.  

On a Tuesday that was briny and gray, with her uncle working and with no place to be, Julia waited on the corner of Rose and Fourth where the cars streamed past. Not yet noon and the temperature climbed past 70: the day stretched ahead, empty and useless. Julia waited in the jacaranda and piss-stenched air for the bus to take her elsewhere, elsewhere taking the shape of a beach in the Palisades. She ignored the beach four blocks over. Her uncle had printed the Big Blue Bus’s time-table, its scheduled stops, and left it for Julia folded in a tidy square on the kitchen table. To Julia, the set of predetermined buslines was expansive rather than limiting. At home, she relied upon hard-to-reach parents, a senior boy in a car littered with empty bags of Cheetos, with kief ground into cloth seats, to take her anywhere. She was subject to their turns, to their stoppings and startings. It didn’t occur to her that some far off city planner, in a tall building with a coffee and an intern, had planned her bus’s route, had pre-determined her elsewhere. 

Julia had wanted out – of her home and her hometown – for as long as anyone could remember. Her idea of ‘out’ always spanned west, landing somewhere around Los Angeles. With no plans for summer besides slumping across couches, her parents agreed that maybe Los Angeles was a good idea, after all. It was Julia’s first time living without them and the bungalow remained empty apart from her, apart from Julia’s uncle when he returned to sleep. Julia returned to the clock radio that played at all hours, and no one to ask where she came from. A possum once perched in the kitchen window she’d left open. Half on the inside-sill, with its naked tail stretched outside, they stood together in the empty silence. The possum ran off and there was no one to tell Julia she had imagined it.

No one ever looked for her, needed her, and Julia was young enough where this didn’t make her feel lonely. On her own, she didn’t need to explain the stories of her day. She didn’t need to relay the details of an interaction, the timestamps and the facts, stripping them of any wonder they once held. In Julia’s mind, they remained untouched and expanded, taking the shape of a life she found interesting. In Los Angeles that summer, there was no one to peek over Julia’s shoulder at what she did in her notebook so that she stopped. There was no one to ask what she was reading so that she no longer was. 

Julia was stuck. Between what, exactly, she wasn’t sure. She missed her dolls and the worlds she created for them, stories of orphans and of girls with lives far more tragic than hers. But she knew she was too old for them, and she felt herself changing. She watched others watch it happen. She was suddenly tall; long-limbed and stretched without yet filling. She spent most of her time looking in mirrors that year, trying to figure out what was there before somebody else could. Her hair was long now, too, and new pale pimples formed constellations on her chin. Her mother promised they were hormonal and suggested rose-hip tea to clear them, even though Julia hadn’t asked. Her breasts were heavy mounds, inconsistent with the rest of her: they came on early and faster than she could figure out what to do with them. At first, she tried to ignore them as if they weren’t happening. But she couldn’t ignore them since other people wouldn’t. She felt her chance to look at the world as a place for her stories end: now, she was firmly and unwillingly within them. 

She sat on the curb that Tuesday inspecting her pimply and freckled knees, her blue toenails visible in her drugstore flip-flops. Her helpless posture encouraged leering; the men had cars and she was stuck and so they lingered and stared. She stood and her dress blew out in front of her, only making things worse. Julia felt eyes on her, which made it difficult for her to think of anything other than what they saw. It was new and it was often, the most it would ever be. Julia didn’t know how to respond other than to study the glossed pages of teen magazines, and to strive towards what they taught her the men were looking for. She smeared honey on her face so that it would rinse off smooth. She cracked eggs into her hair for protein reasons. And as she waited for the bus that day, she stood up taller and with her chest sticking out. 

The Big Blue Bus rounded a corner and Julia boarded, digging in her dress pocket for change. She stumbled, jolting backward then forward, grasping at the rail as the bus pulled away. The lingering scent of her teens was there; the wet in her armpits, the heat around her neck that she wasn’t yet used to. She made her way toward the back of the bus quickly, back until she found a window-facing seat. Her thighs stuck to its plastic. In her seat now, with no eyes on her and her own set firmly on busy and unfamiliar streets, everything dripped with glamour. The scent of jacaranda firmly outweighed the stench of piss. Women in bras, their tits pushed to their chins, stared down at her from billboards. A new TV series requested her consideration for an Emmy. At her parents’ home, where she lived in Western Massachusetts, there was a good deal of pot available to her but no television. Now her environment was saturated, with ads for – with a culture built around – it. She felt safe beneath TV billboards, whose colors were brighter than the ones that threatened Hell if she chose not to birth the pictured blank and bug-eyed baby, if she chose not to call 1-800-CHS-LIFE. A soundtrack that felt like the Beach Boys played in her head, a bus ride through Los Angeles confirmed her place within it. The Jesus Lizard were in her ears, a flier pasted to a telephone poll out her window advertised their set at Whiskey Ago Ago. She was too young to go inside. Stopped at a light, a man exited his Chrysler and fisted the hood of another man’s van until it dented. A woman panhandled beside a Porsche as its driver closed his window slowly. How lucky they were! To be in Los Angeles. To complain about traffic and drought in a city where it mattered. 

One of few people riding the bus, Julia was surprised when a man chose the seat directly across from hers. Near thirty, he smiled at her toothily. His hair was brown and long and thick across his eyes. Like Charles Manson, she thought excitedly. His sleeveless pink t-shirt announced in bold black letters that Jesus Was Coming, like a messiah of the Jersey Shore. Studying the block letters, Julia didn’t immediately recognize the familiar gripping, the squeezed appendage, the toothy grin turned frothy. But the music in her ears kept playing, palm fronds still littered sidewalks, and no one turned to notice. So Julia stared head on as he finished, silent and bouncing in her seat. 

Sluggish and muted, Julia’s mind stalled and then stayed at a pace too slow to respond to the world as it occurred. To an event she’d been taught to react to, to feel scared of. Instead, she was still. It took all her attention to sit up straight, to cross one ankle on top of the other. But what about after the man who came for Jesus exited the bus? Julia stayed on. She could, did, keep riding: the bus pulled away from the curb, she watched him mutate and waver then fade. She pressed her face to the sweating window, to feel its cold so that she’d feel something. Condensation shone on her nose. Palms swayed by, a cluster of Bird of Paradise scaled the walls of a Safeway. And Julia was on the Big Blue Bus and so was part of something, of It, watching traffic move from up high. 

She got off at her chosen beach, chosen for no real reason but distance. On the wrong side, the oceanless side, Julia darted across the four lane highway, atop foam and flopping. She reached brown sand that burned the bottoms of her feet until she hopped. But then she stopped, she sank into it. In front of a group of boys, teenaged but on the older end of it. From the Palisades, drinking Modelos and whooping. Julia sat: gauzy and stagnant. Back home, Julia would’ve rolled her shoulders back and set her neck high like a dancer’s, feeling as heat flushed up it, aware of nothing but the boys’ presence. Now, she was uninterested. She faced seawards and rested on her elbows, draped across her scabby knees. A whale misted. She stared on, her face unchanged.


Her face thinned, her body filled. Men still stared when Julia sat on a curb and waited, but less brazenly than before. Her face was less open now, she’d started wearing bras that she wouldn’t spill out of. She finished high school without a license, but moved to Los Angeles anyway. To a dilapidated mansion that she house-sat in Whitley Heights, with a stucco roof, a claw foot tub, and no working appliances. She couldn’t open a window without triggering an alarm. Royal blue mosaic tiles, imported from Italy, splashed the kitchen walls. Julia was in charge of watering the orange trees, the Mexican Fan Palms, and she almost always forgot. They survived, anyway. The house was set atop a hill steep enough that actresses frequented it, up and down, their hand weights pumping. Julia panted up it, sweating and carrying her bag in one hand with a bottle of pepper spray wrapped in the other. The pepper spray was purchased by the woman whose house Julia sat, a paranoid recluse, who sent Julia updates almost daily of attacked local girls. The woman cried when Julia mentioned riding the bus in passing. Now, Julia’s bus was orange and it followed the Hollywood route: it stopped and started in a jolted rhythm, beside the Chinese Theater and Musso and Franks, while the sun beamed down and tourists’ cameras flashed furiously. In traffic beside a Prius, a Toyota Camry. The boxy and private lives of stalled individuals. Couples fought, a mother sang. A balding man screamed into his car’s speaker phone. Through the window, Julia watched from the bus’s stadium seating. She wanted no part of it: the up-close contact of a car ride, a vehicle filled by the soundtrack of one’s own life. Julia preferred the thrumming of headphones, the communal solitude, the occasional screamed curse which comprised the dissonant symphony of a city bus ride. 

No bus climbed the hill to Whitley Heights. Julia got off on Hollywood Boulevard and walked up Las Palmas Avenue on foot. Past the pink and faded apartment complex, which, upon its proposal, proved polarizing to Whitley Heights’ residents. Once home to major old Hollywood players, Judy Garland, Charlie Chaplin, and Carmen Miranda to start, Whitley Heights now housed inherited wealth, inside mansions built to accommodate the jutting hill but not central air conditioning. Set above what evolved into a tourist trap and then a desolate site of stray needles and grime, residents of Whitley Heights famously petitioned to partition their neighborhood, its public streets, off from the general public. Courts decided that this was illegal. Julia waited for the bus alongside a strungout Cookie Monster most mornings. 

Sat among fig and lemon trees, the scent of jasmine, the houses’s owner complained to Julia about the prostitutes from the boulevard, who take their guys up the hill and do disgusting shit in parked cars. They make it so unsafe for girls like you! Julia nodded and sipped the ginger tea that it was too hot outside to comfortably drink. She thought of the pictures of her tits, her legs spread, that she took in the woman’s vanity mirror only a few nights earlier, to sell to men on the internet. They paid for her groceries, for the tea that they both sipped.


Back and waiting for the Big Blue Bus, Julia didn’t hear music when someone said “LA.”  Julia no longer wore clothes intended to prove her difference, her taste sophisticated, her interests obscure. She selected clothes that were blank, to demonstrate how actually she was nobody at all. She’d reached the age at which she could legally do all of the things she’d wanted to during her first trip to LA, which she now found uninteresting. She lived in Eagle Rock: for four years with girls from school, and now with a boy who she couldn’t laugh with unless she was high. But she was back, back in West LA and sleeping at her uncle’s bungalow. In the only bed, on its navy polyester sheets, the night before her first day at a job in Santa Monica. Her uncle’s new noise machine blasted the ocean in her ears; he no longer made the walk to the real thing. 

The breakfast spot a block from his house, where her uncle ate his breakfast most mornings, where he and Julia shared a stack of chocolate chip pancakes the day she arrived during her first visit, where everyone already knew her name, was gone. Instead stood a white and glass building with a scientific approach to seven dollar coffee. One block over, the street was lined with tents. Julia held her breath as she walked down it, until she reached the coffee shop which resembled an aeroscience museum, until she reached the same house she stood outside when fourteen. With its red-tiled roof and blue walls, with the kumquat trees embroidering its chain link fence. Julia noticed a change; its yard displayed two new and adjacent signs: ‘IN THIS HOUSE, WE BELIEVE: WATER IS LIFE, DIVERSITY MAKES US STRONGER, SCIENCE IS REAL, NO HUMAN BEING IS ILLEGAL.’ And a sign next to it: ‘No Big Blue Bus,’ with a smaller fonted web address that led to a campaign, which called to redirect the bus route, written across its bottom. Because with buses came the homeless, came what the campaign’s advocates referred to as trash and overcrowding, presumably in the form of people. ‘No Big Blue Bus’ signs lined the street. I believe in public transportation, I do, one resident whined from her Prius. But not, like, here. 

The bus arrived 20 minutes after it was scheduled. The driver called Julia baby and so she acted like one. She told him that she would begin taking the metro from her house in Eagle Rock the following week. You’re nowhere NEAR ready for the metro, he told her with yelled laughter. Julia smiled a little and sat. 

The next week, on her way to work and stopped at Union Station, with forty minutes left in her commute and an aching bladder, Julia waited behind five others in line for the women’s restroom. There was no line for the men’s. Julia peered in and saw no one. It was early still, early enough that Julia could pretend the station bathroom was inside a house, one she could stumble into groggily, wearing slippers or a towel. She entered quickly and found a stall, closed the door and lowered her pants. Relief. And then footsteps: Julia called out One second! which prompted banging on her stall’s door and screams that she was a wild cunt. She jumped up, pee sprayed down her leg. A man climbed up the stall door, stuck his head over and in, and thrust his body against it in an attempt to knock it down. Julia screamed and laughed, all the while piss coated her legs. He took photos of her on an iPhone over the stall. 

Security came, two men near thirty but bald, wearing neon vests and carrying walkie-talkies. They didn’t make eye contact with Julia as they told her it would be best if, then, no, a back-track away from suggestion: that she needed to leave the main station. She wasn’t where she was supposed to be. Her face was hot and she couldn’t understand much of anything. She kept asking what? even though she didn’t listen to their answers. Instead, she thought of a time in the fourth grade, how this was the same, how she’d stripped down to her underwear beneath a thick and shaded oak, at recess and in front of a sixth grader named Seth. She sat on his lap because this was closest to him and because he asked her to. It was spring and she knew that she liked to have less clothes on. A teacher saw them and called her mother. But why would you sit on him? everyone asked and Julia wondered why there needed to be a ‘why’ for everything. Her face burned and under the tree the breeze had been cool. She stared and couldn’t remember any of the words you need to answer a question. At Union Station, Julia knew that this felt the same and that there was piss still hot between her legs. She left the area of the station with the cafes and bathrooms and climbed the stairs down to the subway where everything was made of cement, where all was cool to the touch and smelled like mildew. Underground and on the purple line, then transferred to the Big Blue Bus, Julia felt the stick between her thighs. She watched the sun rising, the city waking, leaves and palms wet as light reached them. People crept to front lawns groggily, bushed into their own private worlds, guarded by drought-resistant perennials.


Santa Ana winds rattled the walls and windows of Julia’s yellow bedroom; she awoke in the dark. Most nights, Julia fought with the boy in her house until he fell asleep; she could not. She’d take Xanax but all this did was blur the patterns on her ceiling; she watched as they moved and reconfigured, she listened for a shift in his breath, his footsteps, the slam of a cabinet. At four a.m. she could stop pretending: she’d make her way to the Metro station in Highland Park. Some mornings, he woke up in the dark, too. To open a cafe on their street in Eagle Rock, with a slogan which claimed that the cafe – that its 20-something baristas with nose piercings –  Drank coffee before it was cool. It had opened six months earlier. Down the street, a bakery sold orejas for a dollar each, served coffee alongside them, and had for the past forty years. A family ran it; families still lived in the neighborhood who were actually middle-class and not pretending to be. Fruit trees still stood behind the fruit stands parked in front of them; Julia and the boy and six others rented a green and bushed home from a landlord who owned four others on the street. Their yard was cigarettes and dried basil plants; they paid enough between the eight of them so that a family who was middle-class and not pretending could never live there again.  

The boy drove, and that morning he let Julia into his car, begrudgingly. On their way to the station and in the quiet, with dark over them like a blanket, they settled. Bruising wasn’t visible, they moved with an end in sight. A coyote once darted in front of his car. He stopped, the coyote stopped, and stared into their headlights before continuing on. Julia and the boy turned to each other and smiled, outside themselves, a past forgotten. He pulled into the station and Julia kissed him, teeth first, breath hot. No one was around to see her backtrack, to do what she’d promised her friends Never again. Everyone else was sleeping. 

Julia spent the majority of her days waiting for them to end. The job in Santa Monica was reading scripts in a cement building where nothing good was ever made. She learned nothing of script development; she took the train to the subway to the bus, she trained herself to sleep with an ear open, she learned to wake by her stop in Santa Monica. At work and surrounded by walls covered in posters of men on steroids wearing military garb or sitting in space shuttles, with nothing to look out of, Julia fixed her gaze on the potted Fiddle Leaf Fig in the corner. She covered earbuds with her hair; men screaming, sludge metal, roared in her ears. 

Julia ate her lunches in the sun-bleached dog park a few blocks from the office. She walked there, the other employees thought this, that she, was weird. They ate in the staff room or drove to Urth Caffé. The dogs at the park were designer, mostly, and escorted by women in expensive athleisure: few were full-sized. Julia was the only person there without a dog but she wore work clothes and her hair was clean so people ignored her. Her skin looked older and her face felt hollow; she was eating less and people kept telling her how good it looked. 

Julia called her mother who told her how she wished Julia would call more often. A French Bulldog crashed into a poodle and they fell to the ground. Their owners stared at their phones. I’ve just been busy during the day and I’m so tired all the time, Julia explained. Her mother summarized a New York Times article she’d read about the benefits of micro-napping, and then surmised that the tiredness likely had to do with Julia’s gluten intake. A pomeranian joined the French Bulldog and the poodle and watched as the former mounted and then humped the ladder. It yipped in encouragement or interference. But how are you, sweetie, like, emotionally, Julia’s mother remembered to ask. The French Bulldogs’s owner said Frankie, stop, in a bored voice and Frankie latched on to the poodle harder. Julia said that she was fine before listing famous people who came into the office that day while putting out a cigarette on her leg. Nobody looked at her and she couldn’t tell whether she wanted them to. She watched as a panting husky approached the dry-humping dogs, took a sniff, and retreated to the park’s single shaded corner. Julia ground the cigarette deeper and thought how sad it was that the husky lived in Los Angeles, where it was forced to frequent sunny parks, filled with dogs bred to be brain-dead, where it couldn’t run or cool in freshwater. With an owner who would call it ‘Alexis.’ Alexis seemed to be smirking slightly, maybe even at her, the only one in the park who looked at Julia as her skin began to crumple. Julia was sure that the husky knew what she was doing which depressed her. She stood and she told her mother that she had to get back to work; she walked to the office where she sat some more. When executives at the company asked Julia what, exactly, it was that she wanted to do with her life, what her plan was, she told them A Job With Windows.

There were windows on the Big Blue Bus, on the Gold Line from Highland Station. Eager to leave work and dreading home, Julia settled into her seat, making no movements but moving, until someone decided to stop things for her. At Highland Station, where she got off and sat on a bench. It was dark; a red, white and blue popsicle melted into the pavement by her feet, a crow squawked from a sagging telephone wire. Then a car dragged along the pavement and stopped beside her; it was Tony, a brother of a friend, who offered to drive her home. A few blocks in and Julia recognized that they weren’t stopping for signs or for lights. It was late and they crashed with no one. Tony dropped her home, having adhered to no traffic patterns. Tony later told his brother, who told Julia, how crazy it was, how she hadn’t even told him when to stop for lights or stop signs. As it turned out, he was legally blind come nightfall, and not allowed to drive. They’d glided blindly down Figueroa, through the back streets of Highland Park, with no instructions or signage to protect them. To Julia, this felt no different. 


The boy who Julia lived with rode the Purple Line with her once, underground and in the evening. The musty smell lulled her, he hated it. A penis, again, a man banging on the windows. The boy gaped, slack-jawed, turning his head from left to right. Looking for someone to commiserate with, to defend him. Julia smiled. His mouth opened wider, he looked at her as if she were a monster. Julia couldn’t bring herself to look, to feel, sorry. She thought how embarrassing it was that he was surprised. That he expected her to search with him for help, that he thought this was new or worse or different. He refused to look at her for the remainder of the ride; Julia tried thinking of things to make her sad: the husky from the park, the scene from Terms of Endearment where Shirley MacLaine wants the pain shot for her daughter, so that she’d stop smiling.  I don’t feel comfortable with you taking the metro, the boy told Julia that night, offering no alternative. It isn’t safe. Later, he slammed a door so hard it de-hinged. He screamed in Julia’s face before taking off his pants.  

Julia couldn’t explain to him, to her mother, how her time spent in transit had become the only portion of the day that she could bear. In the mornings, the slight stir as she moved through time, the air still heavy and dark, the sound of the city breathing. The same man with a briefcase each morning when she waited for the Big Blue Bus, whose glance towards her was neutral, unmoved; they boarded together quietly. On the ride home, on the Gold Line: the sun setting and the sky red, the gold that met the dried river and the cement that surrounds it. Polluted and florid. The small child nestled in his father’s armpit, both wearing Dodgers jerseys, the father watching as the child slept. The small woman with a cart and flowers, circles beneath her eyes, cart leaned against her calves, inured to daisies and carnations. Julia breathed them. Between destinations she had no desire to reach, she took comfort in the boxed walls of the train car, apathetic and moving. 


Julia left Los Angeles the day a family member lay dying. Death wasn’t the point, her leaving was. She didn’t know it, but she wouldn’t come back. The boy drove her to the airport and didn’t offer to fly with her. They kissed goodbye, they wouldn’t speak again. She didn’t want to be there, Boston, in a hospital with machines whirring. She didn’t want to be with him, either. 

Her flight was indirect; the Xanax she’d mixed with wine hadn’t yet released her as she killed time before her second flight in Houston. Headphones on, she waited in line at Starbucks. Her eyes set ahead, moving through water. Julia noticed the other customers glancing around them. The assembly line of glazed-eyed patrons, their silent and thoughtless movement towards the counter, disrupted. Julia removed her headphones reluctantly. 

A woman with professionally blond hair, near forty, was making an announcement. Women that age were always making an announcement. She wore a t-shirt that read ‘Disneyland’ in bedazzled letters.  Her two towheaded sons advertised the park in camo. One son held his phone up, recording his mother and bored, like this happened a lot. I want everyone to know, she started, her voice carrying through the shop and grating. This little girl offered to pay for my order. She dragged an uncomfortable six year old in front of her.  I couldn’t find my wallet, and this girl offered her own money to pay. She sounded like she was trying to cry. I  found my wallet, and so, like this girl, I want to pay for everyone in line behind me who needs it. This, folks, is a true example of a pay-it-forward moment. She paused, waiting for applause. One son started to clap and a few customers joined. She stood in front of the counter as the second son finished taking her picture. Julia laughed, no one else did. She called her mother from the line, the aunt who was dying was already dead, had died through the course of Julia’s layover. It was Julia’s turn to order and no one ahead of her had used the blond woman’s offer. Julia charged her coffee and her cake to the woman, left Starbucks, and sank to the floor where she cried. She hadn’t in months, it wouldn’t stop, and she’d never say goodbye. Her mouth wet, her face open. A man stopped and stood above her, the bunched crotch of his pants level with her eyes. What’s the matter sweetie, he asked in a high and patronizing voice as Julia choked on snot. Did you miss your flight? She looked forward, her tears stopped. No one ever asked on the bus or the train, they’d know there wasn’t an answer. She put her headphones on, stood and said nothing.

Julia left the airport and she missed her second flight. There was no longer a reason to hurry. A taxi to the station and she was on a Greyhound bus in no time. She leaned into the leather seat, not plastic or metal, but familiar still. The billboards requesting consideration for an Emmy were gone; calls to CHOOSE LIFE or BURN IN HELL remained. Palms replaced by live oaks, southern reds. Julia’s hair formed curtains, she turned her face to the window, watched it all stream by. Cement freeways, overlapping and looping like toy race tracks, replaced by endless green and swamp and blue. Tall and pink-topped grass waved as she passed, blurring into an undulating cloud. Each person, every gas station and stripmall, was an anomaly rather than a given. Julia felt herself gripping the edge of her seat, in excitement or in fear she couldn’t tell. It had been so long since she tried to name, to further locate a feeling. Instead of folding herself in until she felt nothing. She missed her small seat among many, she couldn’t quit looking out and further. The buzzing was gone; no more horns or yells or thumping from other car’s music. The air quiet and steady; no one hurried to fill it. Onto a bridge now, long and low and winding towards nothing, over deep and brackish water. It all splayed open.