The Bus Ride

It was a crisp morning, when I climbed onto the bus.  The exhaust of this ancient excuse for transportation was overpowering, and the fumes saturated the cabin.  Early in the trip it became apparent that the shocks on this bus were long overdue for replacement.  The cold, rusty bench seats and the cage that contained them creaked and shuttered with every tiny bump in the road.  I shifted my weight in a futile attempt to gain just a moment of comfort from the shackles that dug into my wrists mercilessly.  The "clank-clank" of the cuffs colliding with metal seats was almost deafening when added to the drone of 71 other women lost in meaningless conversation. The gravity of this surreal moment pressed down on me with such force that it took all of my strength to stay upright.

As I looked around at the cold metal and sad faces, I struggled to recall the events that had led up to this.  I wanted the pieces to fit; I wanted some sort of understanding for how this could have happened to me.  After so many mistakes and missteps, my life had finally started to take a shape.  When I realized that what I wanted most in life was to be a mother to my children, the bleeding wound that had been my addiction had not just coagulated, but also actually started to heal.  This all fell down upon me like an avalanche.  Was it all just a mirage?  Would this rip open the old wound?  Would I have the strength to fight through this and keep my dream of being a mother to my children alive?

In the kaleidoscope of colors painted on the landscape by the Central Oklahoma sunrise, all I seemed to see was "goodbye".  Goodbye is its own kind of torture.  During those few hours on that bus, I said silent farewells to many things.  Goodbye apartment.  I hadn't even lived there a week before that fateful knock on the door.  Goodbye, brand new waitressing job at a five star restaurant.  I never got the chance to finish training.  Goodbye minivan, Chinese food, bubble baths.  Goodbye, ambition, confidence, and friends.  Goodbye, little boy who I had built this new life around.  Goodbye future.  Goodbye freedom.

I didn't fight the tears anymore.  The last 14 months of rehab had taught me that they would come whenever they pleased and stay as long as they liked.  They no longer tasted like salt, but like misery. The woman next to me tried to make small talk, but I couldn't.  I just couldn't.  There was never a time before this, that I had felt this level of despair.  I felt completely helpless and vulnerable with my hands and feet shackled to that cold rusty seat that with no forgiveness punished me with every bump and pothole, as the bus barreled on down the highway.  This ancient bus was absolutely unaffected by my wishing that this was all a bad dream.  It stayed its course, and slowly devoured my dreams and hopes, as it got closer to its destination: a medium security women's prison.

by A.C.