In an earlier post I spoke about how I often get ideas from dreams. A little over a week ago, I awoke from a dream with just a phrase going through my head: the bus to Benington. It must have come from a dream I’d been having, but try as I might, I could remember absolutely nothing of the dream. Yet that phrase kept going through my head and would not be ignored.
As it happened, I was attending a meeting that afternoon, and I did something purely by accident that I never, never do: I arrived early. A whole half hour early. So as I sat there waiting for the meeting to begin, I took out the small notebook I always carry with me and wrote the title, The Bus to Benington. And then I wrote a short short story. It came quickly, and by the time the meeting began and I had to stop writing, I had all but the last paragraph. Most of that came during a lull in the meeting, and I jotted it down. On the way home, while driving, the very last line came to me, and when I got in the house, I added it to what I had written, then put the story on my computer and edited it. I’m pleased with the result, although I have no idea what to do with it. But I thought I’d put it here to show you how sometimes these things developed. It’s just 600 words. Here it is; just please don’t ask me what it means. It’s intended to be surrealistic.
The Bus to Benington
©2012 by E. Rose Sabin
The route was so familiar—I’d walked this way to work five days a week for the past six years—yet I’d never seen the bus stop before today. It didn’t look new. It must have been here right along. Maybe I’d never noticed it because there had never been anyone at it before.
Today several people waited there. One of them, an elderly gentleman with a full head of snowy white hair and blue eyes that glinted in the early morning sunlight, called out, “The bus is coming. Don’t you want to catch it?”
“I walk,” I said, “to work. In the shoe factory just up the street, you know.”
“But this is the bus to Benington,” he said, frowning.
“Where and what is Benington? A street? A part of town? I’ve never heard of it.”
“You don’t know about Benington?” a young woman with long, glossy, dark hair asked.
When I shook my head, she turned to a middle-aged, motherly type leaning against a post of the bus shelter, knitting something with bright red yarn. “He doesn’t know about Benington,” the young woman told the knitter in a tone of shocked disbelief.
A young man with tattooed arms shifted his gum to the side of his mouth and said, “Man, you better come and find out.”
“Sorry, I have to get to work. I’m due at the shoe factory in,” I glanced at my wristwatch, “seven minutes.”
“Ah, the shoe factory. That’s why,” said the white-haired man who’d first spoken to me.
“Why what?” I asked, perplexed.
“Why you’re going to take the bus to Benington,” he said.
“But I’m not going to Benington.” What was the matter with these people?
Almost in chorus the entire group exclaimed, “Not going to Benington!”
“But you must,” the elderly man insisted. “You’re entitled. Must be because of the shoe factory. You work with soles, yes? Soles – souls, get it?”
I turned my gaze resolutely away from the gathering at the bus stop and strode off. I’d taken only about four or five steps when behind me I heard shouts: “Here it comes!” “It’s coming! The bus to Benington!”
And a voice I recognized as that of the same elderly man, called now, “The bus is here. Don’t miss it. It’s your only chance to reach Benington.”
I looked back. A large green and gray bus with wide windows, not a city bus at all, not a type I’d seen before, shrieked to a stop. Through the windows many passengers peered out. The bus stop group boarded. Only the elderly man hesitated as though waiting for me, and the young dark-haired girl paused with one foot on the step into the bus.
Perhaps it was the alluring plea in the girl’s lovely dark eyes. Or maybe it was the sense of urgency in the old man’s voice when he shouted, “Hurry! The bus is ready to leave!”
I only know that before I realized what I was doing, I’d turned back, run to the bus, and scrambled up the steps. The door slid shut behind me. As I stood in the front facing the wide aisle between the rows of cushioned seats, the passengers let out a cheer and many clapped.
The tattooed gum-chewer actually rose to his feet to applaud. “Another one for Benington,” he proclaimed, as the bus jolted into motion.
And the young woman, who was just taking her seat across the aisle from him, gave him a saucy wink. “Won’t Benington be pleased!” she said with a wide grin.