Billy clung to the strap as the bus rumbled beneath his feet. His eyes roamed the faces of the others on board. Many read newspapers or books or chatted on cell phones. Others stared at the ceiling or, in a few cases, blankly back at Billy.
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Most of the faces seemed world-weary. But there was one …
She couldn't have been more than 18. Sitting there, she held her legs together and the baby lay in the cradle created there. She bent to coo at the laughing child, her face aglow with the delight of new motherhood. The baby kicked its feet ecstatically, relishing the love and attention. Its face was a lamp, an inspiration, pure joy.
The bus slowed and the young lady, glancing up, began to gather her belongings, working with one hand as she held the infant fast against her chest. Billy watched her as she walked by and the eyes of the baby, smiling and drooling, seemed locked on his as mother and child headed for the exit.
When the bus began to move again, Billy was alone with only preoccupied and world-worn riders. He missed the window to innocence the baby, if only briefly, had provided. He missed the love in the mother's face, the unbridled joy in the baby's gleeful gurgle.
In a matter of minutes and in a city of millions, two nameless faces had taken Billy from love to loneliness.
That, Billy thought, is one hell of a bus ride.
David M. Granger