Short Story | Fiction

A Parable For The Lost

It was almost 10:00pm. Elsewhere, people spent the night with friends and families, or resting in their homes. Others were already on their way, albeit stuck in overcrowded buses or jammed roads; still, they’re on the move — unlike us, still waiting for our own ride. Unlike me, simply watching each bus pass me by.

A taxi glided towards me, rolled down its window, and waited for an offer. I tried to ignore the expectant face behind the wheel; I’ve learned to distrust their service, even when I understood their plight. I couldn’t tell what the driver thought as he drove past me; eager passengers had already raced towards his vehicle. A few frustrated people cussed at the taxi driver, but it didn’t matter; there was one less competition in the waiting shed, one less rival to a decent ride home.

And I just wanted to go home. But not right now; not right away. I was tired, but it was not as tiring as spending the nights in abject solitude. Amidst the standing crowd of stranded commuters, I didn’t felt alone. And soon enough, I felt satisfied, reminded fully well why I often chose to be alone.

Blessed are those who can sleep peacefully in buses, for they have fully learned to trust God. That, or they’re too naive. Or maybe just as tired as I am. Pickpockets and robbers plague the local mass transportation system, but on most days, there was a certain sense of calm while travelling. Outside the bus, one can catch blurry glimpses of the street life — like the bare soul of one’s community. Some streets teemed with vendors and merchants; some, a raging torrent of emotionless pedestrians; others, of trades and lifestyles once not spoken of; the rest were simply silent and resting.

I eyed enviously an elderly man two rows before me; a new passenger, a young lady, opted to squeeze herself beside him. I ended up having a mother with a very loud child as my seatmate. She fussed and complained every now and then, that I wished there were private compartments for people like her, like those we see on trains on other nations. If she doesn’t stop yammering, I thought patiently, I might be tempted to stuff her into the baggage compartment after all. It was not a nice thought; with all the noise she made, the unseen baggages that she carried would be too much for this bus to handle.

Fortunately, several passenger got off after a few stops. I hurriedly transferred to the two-seater side of the bus, and prayed that if God would send another seatmate, it’d better be a more likeable person. Half an hour later, the bus unloaded most of its remaining passengers.

The trip went on for an hour more. It had started to rain — this one I loved the most! — and watched in fascination as raindrops raced and joined each other on the windowpane. Yet as I watched, I couldn’t help but wonder how it felt: falling from the skies, sent to Earth to kiss the land and give it life… only to end up as this pointless entertainment for a bored soul trapped in this journey of routines. And I wondered as well, why the passing scenery seemed a bit different from what I expected it to be.

I ambled off the vehicle at the next stop. I was too proud to ask, too embarrassed to let them know I took the wrong bus. I checked my remaining cash, and sighed in relief; there was enough fare for the right trip home. And maybe some snacks as well, as my eyes guided me to the semi-divine sign of a nearby convenience store, calling all faithful appetites to prey and be fat.

It was almost midnight. Elsewhere, people were waiting for loved ones to come home. Others were already on their way, albeit dreaming in empty buses or empty roads; still, they’re on the move — unlike me, still waiting for our own ride. Unlike me, simply watching each day pass me by.

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