Tires

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The old couple sit side by side, untouching. Sunlight glitters on their white-blonde hair, pouring over their heads and shoulders like golden syrup. The gentleman is seated beside the window, squinting outside at the sun-washed streets moving past, carrying the people in their bare-legged, bare-armed summer comas in its stream. The woman stares blankly ahead, maybe at the driver, maybe at the lady in front with her crying child, maybe just out of the windscreen at the road and cars. She wears no expression, but something pensive is written in her still and upright posture.

            “Put on your shoes, Mav!” She walked around to the staircase. “You haven’t even got your belt on, what are you – do you think we’ve got time?”

            “What’s the rush?”

            “We’re going to miss the bus.”

            “There’s always going to be another bus.”

            “Do you want to be late?”

            “Do we have to be early?”

            “For Christ’s sake Mavin, would you just –”

            “They wouldn’t miss us if we didn’t go anyways,” mumbled Mavin as he looped his belt. 

“Mavin,” she sighed. “Just hurry up will you? I’ll wait outside.”

Eyes turn to the lady with the wailing child as she lets out in a strained voice, “Bella please! What do you want me to do?” Bella continues crying. People shift their glances aside, fiddle with their phones, raising the volume of the music playing through their earphones; they talk quietly amongst each other or busy themselves with other thoughts. The mother slumps back into her seat and stares out of the window as if uncaring, but in her helplessness all she could do was silently wish it away.

            “Sonia, I don’t know what to do anymore. I think I’m losing it a little.”

“Hey, hey… Come on. Don’t say it like that. You’re doing a great job. You’re not suppose to know what to do.”

“What does that even mean?”

“This is normal. You’ve been through the worse, now it’s – ”

“No,” she shook her head before bringing her hands to her face. “I think it’s getting worse. I can’t handle it and I can’t even tell Rob. It’s just. I want – I’m turning out to be a terrible mother.”

“Jesus, no. Look you can’t rehearse these things, you’ll learn and – ”

“I don’t even know if I want to learn anymore!” The words spilled out of her, followed by sobs that shook her whole body.

            Sonia looked on at her friend who seemed to grow small in front of her. Her arms reached out to touch her crying friend, knowing she had no words that could.

The young mother looks around after her child finally grows quiet, and at catching the old woman’s gaze, she nods bashfully. The old woman just smiles, with enough warmth to reach her in a way the sun did not. In the silence, the sound of the tires hum through their ears. Round and round and round.

Cassandra Li is a first-year Media Arts and International Studies student who likes to take random pictures of friends to remember moments because her memory is not that great. Her current camera of choice is a Nikon Coolpix3700, unearthed after eight years.