Within civilization, people are expected to spend their free time in rooms together. In rooms, so they do not roam the dark like animals. And together, so they can keep each other out of trouble. Veronica followed those rules and she spent time in rooms with her sister or with her parents, and sometimes they visited relatives to spend time in rooms with them. Rooms that were lit and warm. Until she questioned.
She figured growing up was about leaving the rooms and leaving the house, and going to scary places, so you can show how grown up you are. Scary places like parties where there is loud music. She gathered her courage, and got permission from her mum, and ventured out alone.
She was supposed to meet her friends so they could grow up together, but before that, there was a bus ride through the night. So she waited at the bus stop which was like a room in that it was lit and surrounded by the dark. But it was not like a room in that it only had three walls, and the walls that it had were see-through. She imagined there was more to the bus stop behind her, maybe a way down. Maybe more rooms she could not see. Maybe she could spend time here instead.
There was a young man at the bus stop, but she did not pay much attention to him.
There was also another girl at the bust stop. The girl was Veronica’s age, but Veronica did not know her. Maybe the girl was going to a party too, she was dressed in black.
“What are you looking at?” the girl said. Clearly not her first time at a bus stop at night, Veronica thought. You had to be tough. A good lesson.
There was also a pregnant lady at the bus stop who was humming a tune to herself and Veronica thought she was happy to be carrying a warm little baby inside her.
And there was an old lady at the bus stop too. Probably going to see some friends and play cards. On her way to spend time in lit rooms with people, probably.
When the bus came, it smelled of gasoline and the city. Veronica knew where it would take her and she hesitated. The other girl, the pregnant woman, and the old lady all got on, but Veronica stayed behind. Just one more evening back here, she thought, before I take the bus. Before I grow up with my friends, have a baby and grow old to spend time in rooms again.
The bus left and Veronica was left alone.
No. Not alone, there was the young man, heavy with smells and desires. Veronica wished she could find the way down beneath the bus stop and spend time there, warm and cozy, before he put his hand on her shoulder.