Never what you expect


I hear her yelling when I reach the intersection. She’s sitting in a bus stop shelter between work and the library, hollering something about ‘where are you?’ and I think she’s tired of waiting for the bus.

But by the time I get closer I realize she isn’t yelling; she’s singing.

It just happens to sound a lot more like yelling.

The woman looks normal enough. She’s wearing teal flip-flops that match a teal spaghetti-strap shirt she’s wearing over a coral long-sleeved T-shirt. She’s clearly coordinated, clean, hair more-or-less cared for.

And she’s singing in a tuneless shout along with the music pumping out of her iPod through little white earbuds.

A lot of people will forget that they’re the only ones who can hear the music playing, will sing or hum along. But this is loud.

She falls silent until I’m even with her, then starts belting out again, something like “I want to see you dancing naked in your room.”

I speed up on the off-chance that this was an actual statement directed at me, avoiding eye contact. She gets up and wanders about 100 yards behind me — I know because the singing isn’t fading even as I walk. Two men pass me going the other direction and she stops singing when she reaches them.

I’m just dropping off one book at the library and looking for one, maybe two – but this always takes longer than it should and 30 minutes slip past before I walk back down the stone steps into the slightly overcast afternoon.

And back at the corner where I saw her first, I see her again. She’s crossed the street, pulled the headphones from her ears, and is standing under a traffic light post, pumping her fist out toward the passing cars on occasion.

And I walk back inside the windowless newsroom and wonder where she’ll go from here, and what she’ll do, and whether she’ll be singing as she goes?

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