Our neighborhood bus pulls in behind the larger transit bus at the Park-and-Ride. I and the other three passengers tumble out and zip to the back of the line already filing into the Seattle-bound behemoth. I catch my breath, lift and rotate my shoulders to shift a daypack heavy with laptop, book, and lunch. A songbird alights on a nearby lamppost and fluffs its feathers.

I feel around in my pocket for my bus pass as the line creeps forward. Climbing the steps onto the bus, I greet the driver, and swipe my pass across the reader. It beeps approval. I join the people standing in the aisle, stacked up like game pieces, waiting to be put into play. The bus lurches away. I grab a handhold and widen my stance, toes trying to grip the floor through my shoes. 

Eyes glued to screens, we commuters begin our day.

Yeshua, Lamb of God, have mercy on us. 

Our double-long bus swooshes down the ramp onto I-90, snaking around slower traffic to reach the HOV lane. The pulsing, undulating floor feels alive. My feet send imaginary tendrils into the floor, down to the roadbed, which stretches from Seattle all the way to Boston. It throbs and hums with the millions of vehicles it carries, with the lives it carries. Connected, my body tingles and my heart soars. We enter the first tunnel. Darkness swallows us. Traffic roars. 

No one looks up from their screen.

Yeshua, Lamb of God, have mercy on us. 

Our bus bursts out into morning sunlight, onto the floating bridge to cross Lake Washington. Waves on the water’s surface shred the light into tasty crumbs for plants and animals below. Mighty Tahoma rises to the south, glistening in her white mantle. I send a silent greeting and feel an answering rumble through my feet: neither Tahoma nor Rainier—your kind cannot pronounce my true name—blessed be the One Who Creates, the One Who Gives All, and the One Who Ignites

Someone snorts and swipes at their screen.

Yeshua, Lamb of God, have mercy on us. 

Groaning, our bus climbs from the floating bridge to burrow through a hill. In the gloom, we wind and bend, seeking the exit lane. Lights flash, horns blare, tempers flare. We emerge from the hill, blinded and groping like a mole for the freeway transit stop, to pick up more passengers. Our bus sighs and kneels, the steps transform into a lifting platform, and a woman rolls on in a wheelchair. Those of us standing in the aisle shift back, stacked tighter. 

A young man looks up from his screen and gives his seat to an old man who is standing. 

Yeshua, Lamb of God, have mercy on us. 

Our bus bellows and squeals as it climbs and curves around the hill. Seattle lies below. Skyscrapers flash in the sun, cranes swing over docks and tankers, the wake of the Vashon Island ferry spreads like seagull wings. Everywhere, everyone, everything is moving and busy, except the colossal stadiums, hungover and silent. We descend into the city to begin our crawl through its streets.

We commuters breathe, shift, sigh.

Yeshua, Lamb of God, have mercy on us. 

I pull the cord and move to the exit. The bus brakes and wheezes, I pop off the stack of game pieces, step down and out, and glance around. I shrug to shift my daypack. People hurry by in both directions. I turn and stride up the hill, start to sweat. One more block. The stream of commuters parts to flow around an obstruction on the sidewalk. I slow as I pass. It’s a young man— the one who’s been here for days. Curled up on his side, sleeping, he looks unwell. The stream speeds up, but my feet slow and stop. I go back. He could be the same age as my daughter. He could be my son. I dig out a card from my pocket, good for a lunch or two at a local shop, and tuck it under his arm. A crow caws on a branch above. 

I wipe my cheek as I cross the street, and revolving doors sweep me into a dark tower, where I am plugged in and put into play. 

Yeshua, Lamb of God, have mercy on us. 

-Alison Vogel

Alison Vogel

Alison Vogel

What Alison wants to know is, why didn’t she quit her job as a technical writer and switch to writing fiction a long time ago? Sure, she needed the money, but why didn’t anyone tell her how much fun it would be? Is it some closely guarded guild secret? Oops. Alison and her very understanding husband are among the millions of people who call the greater Seattle area home. The fiction police will never find her—she blends right i

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