Forty-eight hours into a 21-hour bus trip; blinding snow and treacherous roadways. The bus rolls to a stop in front of a hole-in-the-wall diner, someplace unknown to the young man.

It continues to snow as passengers pile-off and inside. He sat at the counter, slightly apart from the others, as he wants to listen, participate secretly.

He orders and the food comes. It is good, especially the coffee, especially the coffee.

Clatter and chatter. The plates and cups and forks, knives and spoon are busily making themselves useful. The passengers maintain the background noise, talking quietly among themselves with the occasional request for the waitresses presence.

The waitress is pleasant, roundish, jovial, a quick-witted one with a warm smile and open laugh. The short-order cook is too busy to make much small talk as he sings out, ‘Order up!’

The dishwasher hums an ancient church tune from someplace deep inside a back room and even deeper from his soul. Unseen, perhaps he has found bliss in the mindlessness of scrubbing pans.

The young man thinks he could stay here, grow old here, die here, has found magic here. But the driver is calling for passengers to return to the bus and without a second thought, the young man gathers himself, gulps down the last of his coffee, follows.

The young man takes his seat from before and looks out the window into the cafe, thinking how simple life can be. He closes his eyes, listening to the low whispers of those he also considers self-made prisoners like him and pretends to sleep.

Beyond the hum of voices, speaking of themselves, the latest news, grandkids and better weather at the end of the road, he can hear the crunching of the tires through the frozen drifts of snow and the droning engine as it battles to keep moving forward. He sighs — neither a sad sigh nor a happy one — as reality sets in: forty-nine hours into a 21-hour bus trip and there is little else to do.

2 thoughts on “Magic”

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