I am on a bus, headed somewhere unknown. I am alone here, surrounded by faceless grownups who face nowhere but forward. I can see through the windows, but there is nothing to see but an empty road. Though I have no semblance of how I got here nor where I am headed, I do have a sense that I am not here by mistake.
However, I don’t think I mind the trip so much. It is no different than the long family road trips from youth, the long hours spent awake with the tires rumbling against worn gravel, too tired to play games yet too awake to fall back asleep, and too late to wake anyone else up. The only thing to do was watch the darkness, trace patterns in the shadows, grip tight to the string that I thought kept the moon close by. Time suspended in quiet, I am lost in a break of dawn, and it makes me smile.
These moments, I had no idea, became rarities the more sunrises I see over the years. Moments where time feels not like a march towards an end, but a merry-go-round spinning back and forth. So disoriented, intoxicated with giggles, lost in my own innocence.
“I used to love the carousel,” I turn to the boy sitting next to me.
He barely offers a glance my way. “We’re on a bus now. No time to ride horses on a stick.”
No time? What does he mean, no time? Where I’m sitting, there is plenty of time. Perhaps because he only looks ahead, the only thing he sees is the destination of the bus. That must be why we are all here, isn’t it? To get to that destination. Because it is time to stop being lost, stop riding merry-go-rounds, and finally ride the bus towards…
Where? The fog only grows thicker, the roads less empty and more wasteland. I fear that I am headed to my doom. It is not my time to ride this bus. No, I feel as though someone has plucked me off my carousel before the music came to a stop. Weights on my ankles, weight of the world heavy on my shoulders. This bus is not a carriage, but a prison. And I am headed somewhere where being lost will forsake me. They will come at me with soft spoken poison, words of hate coated sick with love, judgment like lasers in their eyes because I refuse to forget.
“You don’t want to ride the carousel anymore?” I ask again, eyes darting over every blank face in the bus. It seemed they were all looking toward, forward.
The boy does not even bother with a glance this time. “I don’t remember riding the carousel. There is no space, no time, to remember such things.”
Again. No time. I find the idea ridiculous. We’ve grown too fond of ourselves as we grow old, too arrogant of our worth, we dare keep Time chained to our will and dare to accuse Time of letting us die.
“If I let you go,” I dream of whispering to Time, hand held towards the whimpering beast, “will they hunt me too?”
It tells me that I will be alone. Not many people choose to be lost, too afraid. Taking the bus is much safer, a well-paved road towards a clear goal. It is the norm. To be lost is to be alone, because no one remembers anymore what it’s like to be lost in innocence.
But it is beautiful, Time says. Being lost is beautiful. New worlds open up, ones less grounded. Imagine floating islands, singing nebulas, dancing fairies in baby blossoms.
It is a lonely art to be lost.
The bus comes to a silent halt. Everyone exits, all facing forward. I look up, and I see the moon trailing above, floating by the string I hold in my hand, playing the merry-go-round of life.