The Busstop, by Michael Madden

I wondered what it must be like to see my eyes from another person’s view. It wasn’t the first time I thought about it that day. The thing is, I can’t stand eye contact for too long. Someone’s eyes on top of mine, it hurts. Maybe it’s the way my dad raised me, him being the tough guy and me being the disappointment. But I got passed that, then again, maybe my eyes didn’t. They’re busy seeing all the time to keep up with my thoughts. I got to thinking on the bus how it would be to be blind. Not blind since birth but going blind at that present moment. There was a freeing feeling that came over me there on the bus thinking about going blind. It felt wrong too, how some people have no choice not being able to see, but I was willingly choosing to. Blind folk have such an elevated view of the world in a way. Well, if they have seen before I imagine the pictures in their heads must be extraordinary. It’s just that, before I got on the bus I couldn’t quite look this guy in the eye, but even before that, I couldn’t help staring at this girl’s dog. They walked past me, and this girl, she was very pretty, and to boot she had this smile on her face. Before she even saw me she had this big grin on, and her eyes, they were wet. Then she looked at me and that grin just stayed there and her wet eyes looked at mine. I tore off immediately, not knowing how I should feel about that, and looked at the dog by her side. The thing is, I smiled a big one at that dog, right at it and it wasn’t even looking at me. On the bus I thought how it would be if I couldn’t see, and if I stumbled into this girl, like walked right into her. In my head I would be seeing an abstract painting of the reality around me, something like Van Gogh except made out of the sound and smells around me, and then it would all shatter or melt when our shoulders touched. My walking stick would fall on the ground and I would say “I’m so sorry” a bunch of times and she would say “no I’m really sorry” even more times. A whole new painting would come into my head as that dog brushed up against my leg, me on the ground searching for the stick she already picked up. The dog would float into my arms and I would feel all of its things to be felt. The way the tail whacked me at a rhythm and its face of different degrees of moist, and all of the fur. It would all form this painting made with lots of paint, those kinds of paintings that jut an inch from the canvas and that feel ever so different than they look. As I walked away I wouldn’t be able to stop sniffing my hands and the spot on my face where it licked. I thought about that on the bus and how wrong I was, how maybe blind folk stop seeing all together, even in their heads. Before the bus came by I looked at this guy by accident and I knew I shouldn’t have because he came right over to me. I knew I should have never looked at him because he had on this white shirt and black slacks, and he was holding some damned pamphlets on Jesus. There on the bus I thought how if I was blind and couldn’t see his eyes looking at mine that I would just listen to his words instead of thinking about him and his choices in life. He would ask “Do you believe in god?” and I would say “No” but nothing else. He would go on and on and his words would enter my ears and just sit there like a stale fart slowly dissipating into nothing. I wouldn’t think about the guy saying these things but the words themselves, and not in the order he was saying them, neither in the context he was using them, just the words. Then he would reach out his pamphlet and I would grope for it, maybe he hadn’t realized I couldn’t see until this point, but he would guide it into my hands. He would bless me then maybe walk away or maybe not and depending on that he would either see or not see me slowly rip the paper into strips. I hear the fibers of separate and none of the words on that paper would hold any meaning, just the sound of it ripping and the feeling of its frayed edges and sharp corners. There on the bus I closed my eyes for the remainder of the ride. I would have kept them closed if I didn’t feel silly stumbling off the bus.

-Michael Madden

Featured in Vol. 3 Iss. 2
Featured in Vol. 3 Iss. 2
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