Throughout our chilly winters, when the sun sets early and rises late each day, it becomes necessary for me to catch the bus in the dark at least once or twice a week.
This is not as creepy as it could be: either I wait for the bus at a time when automatic coffee pots begin to percolate and bathroom lights blink on and off, or else I wait in the evening with a cluster of cold students who shift under the weight of their bags and read the bus schedule by the light of a shared cell phone until the bus arrives in all its blue-lit, heated glory.
This morning, however, I walked through wisps of my own frozen breath to the bus shelter, which rests in the dim spot between two street lamps, to find someone else standing in the center of the sidewalk, waiting. As I approached, the figure stretched its arms, rearranging its layers of clothing, to reveal that the outermost layer was, in fact, an ankle-length, hooded black cloak.
This gave me pause.
Nevertheless I, in my pink pom-pommed beanie, soldiered bravely on through the cold, wondering if it was Dracula awaiting me or possibly Death himself, and by the time I passed the figure (to stand at the far side of the shelter) and wished it a falsely chipper “Good Morning!” I had no more idea if the cloak’s wearer was animal, mineral or vampire – not until it turned its head, grimly (any hooded head at six-thirty on a November morning turns grimly), and asked, “Cold out, isn’t it?” did I realize that it was not the Grim Reaper after all, but a girl, roughly my age, wearing pointed shoes beneath the hem of her cloak that shone in passing headlights.
We made small talk. I was immensely relieved to find myself chatting with someone (anyone!) who hadn’t recently ascended from Hades, though a relief to that extreme does set a certain eerie precedent for the day…
(Perhaps I can blame my brush with Death for unsettling me to the point that I completely, and uncharacteristically, forgot my doctor’s appointment scheduled for this morning? I might try it. )