The Happiness Bus by Susan Gibb

The morning after Jackie’s life dissolved in a whoosh of words and a slamming door, she missed the bus and waited fifteen minutes for the next one.

It bumbled, squealed and stopped. This driver didn’t smile in recognition, wish her a good morning. No smiles along the aisle, no nods, no “Hi, Jackie!” to make it better. She was a woman who’d lost her man, her plans for happily-ever-after.

She pulled out her e-reader but couldn’t concentrate. He’d taken her wedding gown, her anniversary parties, her children with him when he’d left. She looked around, guessing the life of strangers. It was better that she’d missed her regular bus–these people didn’t know, couldn’t tell that she was different now.

A woman sat across the aisle knitting some horrid orange thing. A young woman next to her was beaming down at a bundle she cradled in her arms. The man in front had serious dandruff that made her cringe. No one looked like they’d been broken into pieces. Everyone on the stinking bus had a better life than her.

She read, often re-reading to get the drift of story. People brushed by, got on, most got off. Her stop was next. When she put the reader away she saw the bundle left behind. It moved. She rushed and picked it up just as the bus swung around a corner and hissed to a stop. She smiled as she got off, suddenly feeling better.

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15 Comments

Filed under Susan Gibb

15 responses to “The Happiness Bus by Susan Gibb

  1. Al McDermid

    Perhaps because of my story, I thought something surreal was happening here (would everyone on regular bus know her, but everyone on the next bus not?). Or ‘couldn’t tell that she was different now’ got me thinking she was somehow ‘really’ different and this was the bus for those ‘different’ people. See, thinking too far. Of course, with her snatching the baby (I didn’t misread that too, did I), perhaps she is. Anyway, fun despite my confusion.

  2. Nothing surreal this time, Al! But then, you never know with my writing…

    Regular bus riders would acknowledge her, yes. And yes, the baby was likely an opportunity she took that she’d not have been able to do on her regular ride. But I sort of like what you’ve done with it too–it’s intriguing.

  3. I was thinking the baby was abandoned, but it looks more like the woman accidently left it on the bus? That part confused me a bit. If she was beaming over the baby, how could she forget? And if she was going to leave the baby, why did she seem so happy towards it?

    Regardless of my confusion, a well written story. The ending took me by surprise!

  4. I felt something was coming, but did not expect this! Well done!

  5. Len

    terrific ending. great pay off for the way you set it up. well done, susan.

  6. the story is like a picture that falls into place with the last line, which connects back to the title: The Happiness Bus.
    what i really liked is the way you showed how the same bus line feels different when taking the next bus: every bus, a micro cosmos. and did you see? the bundle appears again – cooing and smiling, in Michelle’s story.

  7. Kim Hutchinson

    One life ends, another begins. Loved this, Susan.

  8. brilliant title – best in the entire collection. made me have happy, hippie thoughts right away. i’m glad this ride was so, well uneventful. great piece, susan.

  9. Susan, you do it every time and have done it again! This piece is wonderful, its dailyness speaks volumes of the miracles just waiting to happen if we only open our eyes.

  10. what an astonishing story! i also loved the title – so apt and also full of surprise.

  11. The title turns the feeling around of the story from sad and pensive to one of joy. Miracles abound everywhere if we only remain open to them. Peace…

  12. guy

    Speaking of the title, many moons ago one of the drivers on the #5 CTA route used to call his bus the “the love bus”. He made a big heart and spell out “l o v e b u s” in the front window with paper cups. When you stepped on he’d say “good afternoon/morning and welcome to the love bus.” That would make me smile. Aside from that it was just a #5 bus. Still, i always hoped it would be the love bus rather than a plain old #5.

    You know you’re in a bad way when you think of fun orange knitwear as “horrid”. You’d have to be something like a baby-snatcher to think that.

  13. Pingback: Week #31 – Missed the bus | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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