Late for the Window
by Sandra Gould Thompson
Carol got on the bus, sat down, and quietly wept.
“Is everything okay?” asked the woman next to her. “Is there anything I can do for you, Honey?”
Carol looked at the woman, who appeared to be the quintessential “bag lady,” and said, “I just can’t do it anymore. Look at everyone. They use their cell phones, text phones, headphones. They’re all being busy looking busy. They don’t want to dirty their lives with anyone else. I think it’s just time to let go.”
The woman placed her hand on Carol’s and asked, “Honey, you’re not thinking about taking your own life, are you?”
Carol sniffled,” I have to make the pain stop.”
The woman sighed, looked out the window, and said, “Okay, but first, let me ask you a question. If you kill yourself, what makes you think that things will be any better on the other side? Will it be any better there or far worse? Are you sure you can make the window? Did you know that astronauts have to take off at a particular time so they won’t miss the point they can leave Earth’s gravity? It’s called the ‘window.’ If they miss it, they have to head back to Earth until there is a new window of opportunity. In death, you may also have to depart in time for your window. I think that if you miss that window, the suffering could be unbearable, with no opportunities for change. For how long, is the most horrific issue. Now, I’m not a woman of religion, so whether it’s a heaven or helll, I don’t know, but you best be positive that you will make that window.”
Carol blinked. “I never thought about it that way.”
The woman smiled and said, “Sweetie, none of us has any guarantees of happiness here. Look at me. I know people think I’m some psychotic street hag, but I choose to live this way. I have the means of living in mainstream society. It’s just not for me. These others find their own ways to survive. Some by ‘being busy looking busy.’ Hey, some of us just drop out and do best as we can. You’re not at the mercy of the wind, Dear. Make a choice as to how you want to live. Change if you have to, drop out of the mainstream, and if truly unbearable, break beneath it. If you get to that point though, remember what I asked you. Weigh it well.”
Carol managed a smile and said, “Thank you so much. What’s your name?”
“It doesn’t really matter does it.”
“Will I see you again?”
The woman smiled and said, “I guess that will depend upon the road you choose. Oh, here’s my stop. Gotta’ run, Sweetie. They’re giving out free one-day-old bread at the bakery today. Can’t miss out on what life hands ya’!”
Sandra Gould Thompson is a B.F.A. graduate in Visual Communications from Syracuse University. Prior to her writing career, she was a medical illustrator with contributions to many medical textbooks and journals. She is now moved to illustrate with words.