Michelle Krys

Posted on October 10, 2011


Bad Day

It should be raining. In the movies, when someone has a bad day, it’s always raining. If it were raining, I might feel a little less conspicuous. A little less like everyone is watching me.

But not today. Today, the sun sits high in a perfect, cloudless sky. Outside the bus’ smudged window, teenaged boys skateboard on the paved ramp in front the court house, businessmen talk on their cell phones as they commute to work, a woman hails a cab.

Nothing has changed for them. Today is just another day. A beautiful day.

I am only vaguely aware the bus has stopped to pick up another passenger until I feel a tap on my shoulder. I blink back tears and glance up. “Yes?”

An elderly woman with a puff of silver hair and deep creases around her mouth smiles down at me. “Is this seat taken?”

“Um.” I sniffle and wipe my running nose on my sleeve. That’s when I notice the bus is clogged with passengers, many of whom are standing, and the seat next to mine is the only one left. When did that happen?

“No, go ahead.” I pull my work bag onto my lap, then angle my back to discourage conversation.

“Boyfriend troubles?”

I exhale a slow, measured breath. “No boyfriend to be troubled about.”

From the corner of my eye, I see her nod. “Maybe that’s the trouble.”

I think what the noise I make is called a snort. “Just had a bad day at work, that’s all.” I close my eyes and rest my forehead against the cool window glass. The bus vibrates my body, and I sway back and forth. For a minute it works, and she stops talking, but that’s as long as it lasts.

“Care to talk about it?” she asks.

I sigh, not just because of the woman, but because I’m thinking about it again. Bits of the scene flash in my mind, and bile rises up my throat until I feel like I’m going to vomit. But nothing is so bad as the sound. The strangled, almost primal screams. I shudder and open my eyes. Better face this woman’s questions than the memory.

“Come on, sweetheart.” The woman’s blue-veined hand touches my arm. “It can’t be that bad.”

I chew on my lips, but it’s no use—a sob escapes me. “The worst,” I say, and shield my face, because now everyone’s looking at me.

“Where do you work, dear? Perhaps you’d like to talk about it?”

I swallow down the lump in my throat. “The L and D.”

“The what, dear?” She holds a hand to her ear.

“Labor and Delivery.”

Recognition dawns on her face. Her lips open and close, but then she just rests back against her seat. She has nothing to say.


Michelle Krys is a graduate of Lakehead University and a freelance writer based in Northwestern Ontario. Her short stories are featured in anthologies from Static Movement and Pill Hill Press.

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