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  • The Journey

January 01, 2024

By Lucca Falcao

 

The bus was packed. He could barely fit in that small seat that seemed to have been designed to be as uncomfortable as possible. Luckily, his seat at least reclined a few centimeters, but as if that would change anything, he would still have a long journey through the night until he reached his destination. He was unsure, a thousand thoughts running through his mind. Wondering if he had made the right choice, if it was worth it, but now it was too late to go back. He had already packed his bags, sorted out his documents, bought his ticket, was already on the bus, headed for the unknown. Even in the early hours of the trip, he tried not to think about the future—where he was going or what he was going to do. He avoided touching his cell phone to avoid seeing messages from his family and friends. He wanted to pretend that it was not happening, that it was just another trip. But deep down, he knew it was not just another trip.

 

He tried to distract himself with the landscape, but it was not possible to see anything out of the window. The cell phone was not an option, so he decided to listen to music, something that worked for the first few hours, until he lost connection and found himself back in the most deafening silence of his life. He tried to find a book he had set aside especially for this occasion—a book he could read for over an hour without stopping. After rummaging through his backpack, looking for the book, he finally found it, turned on the blinding light and started reading. His plan almost worked, he had just not counted on getting motion sickness due to the sharp turns in the road. He tried to read one more chapter, but the words were already starting to blur in front of his eyes. He closed the book, put it aside, switched off the light, and there he was, again, in the dark.

 

He tried to get some sleep, as there was still a long way to go until the halfway point, where he hoped there would be a stop; he was already starting to feel uncomfortable from having drunk too much water before leaving home. He tried not to think about anything, other than closing his eyes and waking up when the bus stopped, but with every turn the big sardine made, he felt as if a memory was trying to invade his peace. After trying to prevent these thoughts from invading his mind, he resolved to finally let them take over. He began to remember his last moments before leaving the house, the rush to check that nothing was missing, confirming the time of departure and arrival, saying goodbye to the family, explaining to the dogs that he would be back soon. A smile appeared on his face, remembering all the confusion leading up to his trip. Something began to drip from his eyes. He looked at his reflection: tears in his eyes and a smile on his face.

 

He ended up falling asleep. Finally, a little silence. Unfortunately, the brief moment was interrupted by the jolt of the bus, which had arrived at the stop. He straightened his hair a little with his hands, looked for his wallet, opened his cell phone to check the time, then put it back in his pocket. He decided to wait a while before getting off the bus. His legs were half numb and stiff from all the time sitting and from having found the strangest position for sleep. He went straight to the bathroom, then he allowed himself to explore a bit of the stop. He was impressed by the prices of things, which were always much more expensive than anywhere else. He sat near the window of the establishment so that he could keep an eye on the bus to make sure he would not be left behind. After looking at the menu several times, he decided to order something. He could barely taste the food—he was not hungry at all—but he knew that it was the last opportunity to eat something before arriving at his destination.

 

After the brief pause, he found himself once again sitting on the small seat, heading into the unknown. Half of the journey had already passed, but it still seemed like an eternity before he would actually reach the end of it. The deafening silence returned; there was nothing else to distract him. Finally, he decided to look at his cell phone. For a brief moment, a relief: no message! But then came the sadness: no message. He felt even more alone. Perhaps that was what he was avoiding so much: realizing that those who were important had already said goodbye. He fell asleep again. A few hours or minutes could have passed, as the notion of time no longer made sense. He woke up, but this time he did not look at the time. He already saw the first rays of sunlight, and he breathed a sign of relief. The journey was finally coming to an end. He saw the first buildings in the city. Some houses, some cars. He could make out some shapes in the dim light.

 

He began to feel something different—the relief that the journey was finally coming to an end turned into anxiety. He didn't want the journey to end, as bad as it had been, it was what had separated him from his future. He tried to cling onto the last moments of the journey, but he realized there was no point. And there was the end of the journey. His choices had led him there. Even after all the anxiety, chaos, tears, goodbyes. There, it finally was: his future.