Bree was twenty-seven, living at home, and hadn’t found a boyfriend since her first and only, a relationship that corroded over a tumultuous six year span.
Her clothes were plain and bleak, the required garment for her full time job. Every day she went to work, she woke up at five A.M., in order to make the one hour walk to the nearest bus stop. On her way, she thought about many things, with her head down low. She thought about how her parents worried for her future. She thought about the friends she had already lost to good husbands.
She understood her place, she knew where she was headed, and she saw quite clearly there were no more good times waiting ahead for her. In every way she felt on the decline, and in every thought Bree grew more and more certain her chance at getting married was growing all the slimmer.
Her body was not what it once was, and her once adorable smile now felt something more akin to a rotting jack-o-lantern. She thought all these thoughts often, always with her head down, shoulders sunken, and hopes as low as she could keep them.
She learned from work the best way to get through was to keep quiet. She learned from experience the best way to avoid notice was not to talk. She learned from those around her that she was meaningless, and did her best not to disrupt the natural order of things, not to dare act as more than she was, for there is certain amount of success one must be having in order to smile, and a certain amount of prestige required before one is permitted to laugh.
What bothered Bree the most was no longer the insults, or the murmurs she heard behind her back, or the way her manager spoke to her – slowly and with the sort of insistent expression that was meant to remind her how dumb he figured her to be.
What bothered Bree the most was the attention. Not a single sort of attention; not negative attention, and not positive attention. It was any attention at all. It was that which she hated, for, to remain unseen was to remain undisturbed.
As she approached the bus stop, on this particular morning, she noticed a man, roughly middle-aged, well built, and wearing a fine, fine suit, the type of which did not belong on a bus stop. The type of suit that meant money, the type of hair which mean handsome.
She stopped momentarily, aiming to catch her breath. She smeared at her forehead, winced her eyes close to a shut, then swallowed down the pain. The fear of dismissal, the knowledge of inadequacy, and the frightening prospect of sitting next to another slew of dismissive glances.
The thoughts kept coming, and growing worse, until, suddenly, Bree shook her head, then whispered to herself. “No.”
The thoughts kept silence at first, before barking back up, at which point she whispered to herself yet again. “No. Shut up.”
The voices pounded. “No. I’m not going to listen to you today. Today I am going to do what I want to do. This time I am going to be me, and I’m not going to a shit about the rules of arrangement.”
The voices silenced.
– Thomas M. Watt
Bree continued on, to the bus stop bench, then took a seat next to the handsome dark-haired man.