A One Way Ticket

I see Joanne walk up the steep incline of the road even as the bus gets to the bus stop. She waves frantically and attempts to push her walker faster but it is a hard walk and there is a chilly winter wind racing down the streets and she couldnt really move any faster even if she tried. Perhaps there is a pattern: spring and promises and youth, autumn for the seasons of change, summer for memories that come alive on sultry nights, and winter and old age tied together like the last two people on the dance floor that were left without dance partners.

The bus has to wait for her while she makes her way to the doors. She struggles with her footing and attempts to get in before the doors have fully opened and before the driver can get down to help her. The walker gets caught in the doors and she flinches audibly as her fingers graze the side of the walker’s handle-bars. She gets in to find her usual seat occupied. The bus is running late and the driver pulls off from the kerb even before Joanne settles down. She nearly loses her balance and tumbles on to the nearest seat, red faced and visibly upset. She fumbles with her wallet and looks around for someone to buy and swipe her ticket for her. Her eyes settle on me even as I walk over to get her ticket for her. I get her her ticket and swipe it and hand her back the change. Her arthritic fingers struggle to open and a coin starts to roll away down the aisle with a dull,clinking sound. She tries to get to it before I can and her head hits the walker again.

It takes me five minutes to gather the courage to look at her and when I do, I look away immdediately. Her wrinkled face is puckered together and two large tears are streaming down her cheeks. She runs a nervous hand through her thinning, windswept hair and stares out of the window. All this time, the tears make their way through the crevices of her time-lined face. All this time, people get off and on the bus and new destinations are being punched in.

As I pass her by to get to the door, she catches sight of me and she whispers a thank you. I ask her if she needs help getting off the bus and she shakes her head. “It was not always this bad, you know”, she mouths even as she scans the list of upcoming stops. I desperately want to believe her then, and I want to see Joanne as someone who could sprint behind a bus to catch it, as someone who was not always struggling with the fear of being left behind. That winter and old limbs were not always a part of her equation. That the man whose wedding ring she wears on her finger because he is no longer around to wear it himself, would be hurt to see her like this.

It is when I get down that I realize that she has bought herself a one way ticket. And the journey is all uphill from here. And she doesn’t even know when she plans to get off. And there is a chance that she has already passed the best sights of her journey.

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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. IW
    Jul 02, 2007 @ 13:35:45

    >> she has bought herself a one way ticket..

    Touché Scarlett..

    Very few people have the time-inclination-patience-sensitivity to slow down the pace of their lives and cater to the needs of Joanne’s of the world. If only people realize that sooner or later we ourself would traverse the same one way route…

    You have hit a purple patch with your writing (what with 2 posts in less than a week).. Don’t slacken.. keep posting.

    Reply

  2. cheti
    Jul 02, 2007 @ 17:31:13

    Scarlett

    This is beautiful stuff. The last paragraph was really cool ! but some how, this lacked the same level of intensity and flow as some of your other blogs. “last two people on the dance floor that were left without dance partners.” That sounded almost like a forced addendum to the paragraph rather than the natural flow. THe lines themselves are nice !

    Reply

  3. Aria
    Jul 02, 2007 @ 18:49:01

    Beautiful writing. It brought a tear in my eye, when I was reading the third para.
    “And there is a chance that she has already passed the best sights of her journey.”
    Thats a lovely line. I’m going to save it. (I hope you won’t mind)

    Reply

  4. Scarlett
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 02:13:20

    IW, we are all on one way tickets arent we? Pity it takes us till the end of the journey to realize this. I do plan to be less lazy and write more, so do keep checking on me 😀

    Chets, what do you know, the line about dancing was an afterthought. Hmmmm. I am glad you liked it though. Have added you to my blogroll too, hope that is okay 🙂

    Aria, thanks a lot. I am very glad you liked it and that you liked the last line enough to save it. Thanks for dropping by. Have blog rolled you too.

    Thanks people.
    Scarlett

    Reply

  5. asuph
    Jul 04, 2007 @ 02:32:38

    A nice human piece, Scarlett, but both the strength and the weakness of this piece can be summed up in two words: “typical scarlett”. And, that, is one thing I want to warn you against.

    regards,
    asuph

    Reply

  6. anaz
    Jul 04, 2007 @ 04:41:55

    I liked it. Nice, crisp, and touching 🙂

    “That the man whose wedding ring she wears on her finger because he is no longer around to wear it himself, would be hurt to see her like this.”

    I liked that line. Very much. Also made me feel happy, that at some point Joanne had someone to share her pain. And that she has some real good memories.

    anaz

    Reply

  7. Scarlett
    Jul 04, 2007 @ 04:43:02

    Asuph,
    I am quite pleased that the strength is “typical Scarlett” because really, if I dont write like Scarlett, who will??? 😛
    The weakness is a strange one (for lack of a better word) because I try hard not to write like any one else does (or maybe I dont and everything I write ends up with this look and feel). So the question is how do I not sound like Scarlett? Or maybe there are avenues Scarlett hasnt explored before…and now would be a good time as any. Maybe it is the topics I choose.

    Hmmmmm.

    Scarlett is off to introspect.

    Reply

  8. ubermensch
    Jul 05, 2007 @ 00:13:48

    A im conversation with asuph and a comment on his blog has led me here. I have spent the last 35 minutes reading some of your posts. Neat I must say. The flow is smooth, tone is tender, narration perspectives are well chosen; I know you would call it patronising but I cant escape stating, you should justify your talents, I mean you should think beyond couple of comments and seek out for a readership. It would be interesting to see you move into fulllength short stories, min- 10 pages. Try sending it across to editors, if you direct your talent properly there is oen , may be two books within you.
    If you start taking your writing seriously, you would like to work on characters, and worldviews, right now it seems to be dominated by deliberate impersonalising the subjective, like, mostly women dealing with loss , bereavement, slow withering, desolation etc. also, you cant permit grave change of tenses like this:

    Perhaps there> isthat were

    Reply

  9. ubermensch
    Jul 05, 2007 @ 00:16:17

    And they sing songs on wordpress-huh? Also anything less than font 10 is no no. anyway

    If you start taking your writing seriously, you would like to work on characters, and worldviews, right now it seems to be dominated by deliberate impersonalising the subjective, like, mostly women dealing with loss , bereavement, slow withering, desolation etc. also, you cant permit grave change of tenses like this:

    Perhaps there> isthat were

    Reply

  10. ubermensch
    Jul 05, 2007 @ 00:18:15

    WELL. the thing seem to like me

    If you start taking your writing seriously, you would like to work on characters, and worldviews, right now it seems to be dominated by deliberate impersonalising the subjective, like, mostly women dealing with loss , bereavement, slow withering, desolation etc. also, you cant permit grave change of tenses like this:

    Perhaps there ‘IS a pattern: spring and promises and youth, autumn for the seasons of change, summer for memories that come alive on sultry nights, and winter and old age tied together like the last two people on the dance floor >THAT WERE

    Reply

  11. ubermensch
    Jul 05, 2007 @ 00:19:12

    THAT WERE left without dance partners.

    What are you qualifying? the seasons or the dancers?

    Better usages : winter and old age inevitably tied together like the last two people left without a dancing partner on the dance floor.

    If you wish to use the clause who are would be better substitute.

    Also, you bought the ticket, you should know its one way ; you give away the focus by shifting onto yourself, in that last paragraph. I liked your previous entry better.

    Good luck

    Reply

  12. scarlettletters
    Jul 05, 2007 @ 01:59:43

    Uber,
    Thanks for dropping by, sincerely. I like getting comments that make me think and that push me beyond one of the obvious reasons of why I write, and getting comments is indeed one of the reasons.

    I am seeking out a readership, I _think_ but perhaps at this point in time, it is confined to the comfort zone of the blogosphere. Am I ready for the big leap? I dont know! Do I think I have what it takes for the big leap? Perhaps! All I know is that if I were to answer my own question honestly, I wouldnt laugh at the idea of my writing going mainstream. Which is good and bad but we will stick to the good bit for now. And the good bit is that I havent written myself off yet, pun intended.

    I have written short stories and poems but some of them have been published elsewhere and have been copy righted which is why they dont appear here. Perhaps I am lazy to put in the effort required for a short story but it is something I am working on. The effort and the short stories, both, I mean.

    Back to the article, I did buy the ticket but I didnt bother to check what kind of a ticket she wanted. 🙂 I hear you about the construction of the dance floor sentence. In my case, afterthoughts almost rarely never work.

    Most importantly, thank you for your comments and for your honest feedback. And for the encouragement. Please come back and check on the blog. There will be more, I promise.

    Regards,
    Scarlett

    Reply

  13. Scarlett
    Jul 06, 2007 @ 03:55:54

    Anaz, thanks. What they say about roses in decemeber must be true after all. Though I wonder if memories after a certain point in time are more of a sad ache than a solace! Hmmmm.

    Scarlett

    Reply

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