Stop

She leaned her head against the window again and closed her eyes. She felt the cold sharp metal of the window frame with each bump of the bus. She readjusted trying to allow her mind to wander into sleep. “Less than 48 hours ago I was home,” Tara thought to herself with a smile.

The bus rattled to a stop. Squished on a bench with two others sleeping against her, she gently nudged the sleeping boy next to her.

“Why are we stopping?” She asked. He looked around drearily.

“Bathroom break,” he said in broken English.

She had been on the bus for about four hours now, and had drank more than her fair share of water. She felt the squeeze in her stomach and wished that she didn’t. She had read the horror stories of people disappearing in foreign countries, and here she was. It was 3 AM and she was not only the only foreigner on the bus, but the only girl at all. India was full of wonder and color, but you can’t see much color in the darkness. She didn’t have much of a choice, there was at least another 4 hours of the bus ride, and this was the only stop.

She reached down and in the small space, tried finagling her shoes on. “I’ll be right back.” She promised under her breath, and slid past the boy and a sleeping man. Eyes locked on her from all directions. Sitting far over under the lamp she caught a group of men stop eating as they watched her. Despite meeting their eye contact, they held her gaze. She was unmistakably out of her element, yet she was fully in it.

Alive, awake, and alert, she ventured into the darkness towards a flickering building. She walked towards the light in the dark. She had no idea where she was. There was nothing around but road and this one shop. The smell of fried bread, fresh at this surprising hour, filled the air until it was wafted away by the bathroom stench.

In the dim lighting she could see a cement bathroom structure with two walk ways and dividing stalls, each without a door, and a hole on the ground. Tara cringed at the smell and lowered her gaze to avoid eye contact as she moved down the walkway in the search of a free stall.

Pulling down her pants, she used her wilderness training of quick pees and no toilet paper, squatting on her heels. She thought about the darkness and what would happen if the bus left without her. She worried about her bag back on the bus being stolen, and finally let the pee go.

She stood back up and ran back to the bus. She felt her hands touching the metal of the entrance, and was convinced that she made it, and it was all going to be okay. Her bag was still there, and the boy smiled at her. Her bladder was happy, and she was finally able to close my eyes and rest.

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