Judged Conversation Overheard on the Bus in August
by Shannon P. Laws
The sidewalk on Magnolia sticks to my shoes
Maple Tree sap bleeds from the high branches
It’s not enough to stop me
I have a bus to catch
It’s early morning-cold. Crisp air flies in from open slit of bus windows in position for the promised afternoon heat. Wednesday morning in August and downtown is quiet. Half the town seems closed. Most are somewhere enjoying the last days of summer. Anywhere else but downtown Bellingham. Only the sounds of a traffic light clicking green and a seagull. The gull stands like a superhero on the top southeast corner of Mount Baker Apartments
waking us up
Two ladies get on the bus.
They don’t live here.
I know it.
They are the only known tourist on the 3
Oh good, they are sitting behind me
She must be a grandmother
“Are you warm enough?”
The other perhaps a daughter
“Yes, I have my LL Bean on”
They don’t know
Then, it starts—
For 25 years I’ve been getting a mammogram every two years because my mother had breast cancer.
She continues to talk about cancer the way old people talk about cancer
the same way middle-aged people talk about the weather
the same way younger people talk about nothing in particular
The list of what’s wrong with grandma’s body rattles off like the description of a 2001 Dodge Durango I am forced to read:
There’s a new growth of cataract in my left eye, arthritis in the knees effecting my suspension, my liver is having problems, might be backed up. Recent scans show no blockage in the arteries. Hips replaced. Doctor recommends a colon flush. Hypertension makes me jerk to the left from time to time. Engine still strong. Overall I’m in good shape
“For sale $500 obo”