Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"Golden Wings" by Carmen K. Welsh

When I still took the bus, the #3 was my go-to route, and it's more scenic, especially when it travels to and through Midtown Miami.

Now my car is nearing its fifth year, so this bus ride probably took place in 2006*, when I frequented the Wolfson Campus for workshops, conferences, seminars, as well as the Miami Book Fair International.

There are some chintzy motels one passes before reaching Midtown proper. Some try with Greco-Roman frescoes and fountains bearing rows of Cupid sculptures.

My mind so used to the sheer gaudiness that I'm napping when the bus passes.

Yet, on this day, the #3 picked up a passenger, and I was startled from my ennui. A young woman, shades lighter than I, almost toffee-colored, narrow face, got on, and sat almost directly across, where the seats are parallel to the windows, not perpendicular.

Her hair pulled back in a tight, hasty, short ponytail. She wore jeans, and I can't remember her shoes, but what struck me was her sweater. It was worn through with holes stretched by wear. It was once red but now faded to a reddish orange. When she paid her fare, she pulled this sweater around her as a queen with her scarf. But she was cold, because once she took her seat she drew it tighter around her before deciding to flaunt what she had. There was no shirt or blouse under that worn sweater, only a bra with material appearing to be gold lame'. The design on each cup was a single, outstretched wing.
The brassiere resembled an angel's wing pair that points in opposite directions.

I stared, and not, mind you, out of disgust, pity, or even sympathy, but only in naive' shock. For in my 28-29 years, I was not immune to scantily-dressed individuals, just not really seeing a person publicly flaunt any underwear, much less, so brazenly, or, so proudly.

The young woman noticed my expression, and glared at me. I tried to look away out of courtesy, but my eyes kept going back to that angel wing-design bra.

Long after the bus left that neighborhood of motels, I regretted that I had not paid attention to the exact spot where we picked her up.
When I finally did 'mind my own business', more questions came: What were you running from that you could only throw on a bra, and what made you choose THAT sort of bra?

For the entire time she was onboard, I couldn't stop thinking about the situations a person could be in to hop on a bus in a shredded sweater and a seemingly gold lame' brassiere?

My morbid curiosity thinks back on that particular bus route, and I wonder, where is that young woman now?
Was that bus ride we shared in 2006* her escape? Did she wear that bra because of its symbolism of flight? If so, I hope for her sake.

*I'm not sure of the exact year, but estimate 2006-2008.

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