Bus stop Purgatory

I feel unreal. I'm inert, sterile, out of phase — I cannot touch or be touched. Trapped in insignificance, locked in impotent corporeality, denied any weight in the world. I am doomed by dull, bleak fate to fade out, to gradually recede into my lonely void. Do I even breathe? Is my blood warm? Do my eyes shine? Is there strength in my muscles and bones — any force at all?

I stand waiting for the bus in the cold, grey morning. There's someone else at the stop, dressed all in black, and I look at them and nod. They do nothing, do not acknowledge me. If they turned away, in disgust or embarrassment, that would at least be something. It would show I matter. The invisibility, as if I'm not even there, I can't take. I want to run to them, grab them and violently shake them, scream in their face until my voice is hoarse, dig my fingers into their skin until I draw blood. But of course I don't.

I hear the bus before I see it, the tortured, metallic scream of the unoiled brakes echoing beyond the bend of the road. I edge anxiously forward, afraid I won't be seen, that the bus will drive past me without slowing; or worse yet, take the person in black and slam its doors in my face. I'm cold inside my jacket. I think I might be coming ill.

The other person, the one in black, steps forward too, and waves. The bus pulls over with another screech making me wince and my ears ache. The door opens and we board. The driver nods and smiles at my mumbled good morning, and I feel a sudden wave of euphoria that turns back to misery just as soon as I'm seated. Is this what I'm reduced to — so aching for any human contact, any acknowledgement at all, that a smile makes me feel as I've just been kissed for the first time?

Bus drivers, I think bitterly. There's my lone touchstone. Them I can trust. I swallow the lump in my throat and stare resolutely out of the window, seeing nothing in the blurred grey whistling past, until my eyes no longer sting.

I'm still cold. I shiver. I feel in my mouth the slick no-taste of a coming cold. Probably it will pass, but I wish it didn't. I wish I had a fever, that my joints would ache, that turning my head would feel like a stab on my temples, because then I could at least feel something. I wish I'd burn up. It's not that I want to die, but if I'm going to, I want to be done with it. I'll much rather have nothingness in death than this living limbo.

Or, it occurs to me, perhaps I already am dead, and this Purgatory. An afterlife where jackets don't hold heat and busses don't have their brakes oiled.