Sheila Compriani sat on the bus minding her own business thinking about the cleaning out the cat's litter box and what was in the refrigerator to throw in the microwave this very Friday night. She didn't believe in cooking on Fridays, it was almost a sin. She sat numb to her surroundings, her mood dampened. She felt as though the past ten years of her life swindled her youth away. Regret swamped her thoughts and self-pity governed her day to day adventures. Her strong latin ethnicity was distinct in her features but dark circles surrounded her eyes and bags showed misery for every stranger to read. The constant tension of worry creased the skin between her eyebrows. She had large emotional eyes that lost their sparkle, dulled with routine. Sheila cheeks sagged, starved of the nourishment of joy. Dark straight hair with streaks of gray and bangs that partially hid her face, then rested on her shoulders without the bounce of vanity. Sheila hadn't been to the hairdresser in years. Love only existed in her dreams and she ceased sending the invitation for it to enter her life.Life was suppose to be simple now and fun she thought, the kids grown and the mortgage paid off. The past seemed to never let her go; simultaneously she was being backed up in cautious retreat by the notion of the golden years dawning prematurely. She was caught in the middle of a strange vice of an undesirable future and a gloomy past. The rumbling of the engine brought her mind back on to the bus. A teen-aged girl read a fashion magazine in the seat right next to Sheila, the glamour models in her peripheral vision taunted with each turn of the page. Starch and cheap deodorant now told a long day's tale and miserable bunions complained in her leather flats. An overly affectionate young couple in front of her seat couldn't be ignored either. She glanced on them, coveting the looks of adoration exchanged, then a "snarl" sold out her frustration. It reminded of the bad choices of her youth, ashamed of the time wasted in devotion to her husband. Her hands revealed 'the sands of the hour glass', a constant reminder that there was no escaping time. Though she was free, her left ring finger still felt strange with no band. She was a modern day saint, a hospitable personality that withered with time- the mental torture left a shell of her former self. Fortunately Sheila had the courage to break free, leaving with a new beginning in mind, an escapade to a tropical island with a life filled with pina collades and the rumbling of the ocean was what she hoped for. A life filled with six foot, chiseled ethnic warriors to cater to her every need was what she desired. She needed love, to be adored, the reason her partner woke up in the morning to worship her. Sheila needed to be twenty-one again, to be vain again, to be admired from strangers with the instantaneous hope of better days. However circumstances did not unfold conveniently as in her fantasy. Reality is always a pain, she moved in the county of Kissimmee, Florida. A two bedroom apartment was her kingdom. Sheila got a job as a receptionist just barely making rent. The extra income was them used to rent romance films and purchase cheap wine but often "Journey's" greatest hits often serenade softly throughout the rooms while she buried her head in a "Danielle Steel" novel. She was in a dark place now disappointed in herself. Her heart was ripped apart, the one she cared for so deeply was the root of all her pain. Three young males entered the bus as she sat reminiscing. Sheila couldn't help but noticed them. They were different, obviously tourist but they had a infectious ambience that stirred the dullness of the bus. They wore vibrant colors with an impeccable style. Their faces glowed, free from the misery of poverty and the hardships of the working class. Their ethnicity was not easily identifiable but exotic and attractive. Sheila wanted to rediscover feelings of worship and adoration that seemed to elude her life. She was vulnerable at this point- desperate for love. Only two subjects her heart yearned for to defeat the lonely nights, a rich handsome divorcee that understood her past to give her hope and living the remainder of her life in luxury. Sheila dreamed of travelling through Europe with pleasant unpredictability and adventure. If not this, then perhaps a youthful delight that would cater to her more instinctive desires. Sheila wouldn't mind relishing in fantasy with the company of a younger partner. It would provoke nostalgia of her youthful years when love was the only thing that made life worthwhile.To be seduced by a young vigourous model wasn't such a bad idea the more it sat on her mind. Visiting the cookie jar of taboo needs and lecherousness may be the remedy to her monotonous life. She contemplated but her insecurities battled the reality. Doubt of her ability to lure such men bombarded her ego for the last couple of years. Sheila hid from the mirror; in her head the person in the mirror was a haunting reminder of ugliness, an illusion that would go away eventually; she refused to own it as her bodily image. She hid it with dark colors and jeans. Work attire was her favorite, it gave her an excuse to not reveal much. Living day to day with nothing to look forward to, she was coasting through life with limited opportunity to indulge her deepest desires. While on the bus she sat trying to calculate the story behind the faces and attire of the youthful delights. They appeared to be from humble circumstances but their spirits were rich with joy and content. Most of the passengers were immediately allured by these young men. She was no exception, she couldn't keep her eyes off one in particular. He had a mature demeanor but at the same time he wore a youthful face. He met eyes with her not thinking much at first as he was occupied in his thoughts. Then seemingly his thoughts were focused on her-looking at her intuitively. Sheila first thought, "How rude, I could be your mother." He didn't shift eyes from hers; this lead to provoke intriguing feelings towards him. Though youthful, he seemed to have experienced a lifetime's journey.Sheila as any woman would was genuinely intrigued by difference. This young man continued to gaze on her intermediately throughout the bus ride. This made her nervous in a way she appreciated. She couldn't explain the reason behind her feelings. Her son's were his age she thought. He was confident in is eye movements when he looked at her in admiration. Though it was a bit taboo for her cultural norms to indulge in such interactions of a younger man. She welcomed him in every sense. He was a dose of the remedy of what she lacked in her life. Her intuition spoke to her, encouraging her to send an invitation. Sheila smiled invitingly-- it was proved enough.Without hesitation he returned a smile and made his advances towards her. Sheila was amazed at the response, it reminded of her high school days. A time when the boys were full of vitality waiting on moments to express their interest; to be pursued is a feeling proved to never be antiquated. The young man left his friends and walked towards her. She was unsure on this young man's intentions as she looked on eagerly. He walked as if he was on a runway, as if the world was watching, a miniature superstar he had proved to be. He looked at her as if she was a colleague. "How are you today?" He uttered in an indistinct accent while his cologne pleasantly tickled her nose. Sheila paused, she wasn't quite sure how to react to this bold young man. The immediate response was to give into his flirtatious invitation; to play on his mind as a prize he couldn't win but her conscience played a huge role in her actions. She couldn't possibly allow herself to encourage this young man in this manner, Sheila thought. Her work attire was repulsive to any romantic scenario, her hair was a slight mess with no make-up. "What the hell did this young man want?" "I'm good, and you?" She replied averting her thoughts to a more composed temperament. Ignoring her whole thought process, she was genuinely interested in what ideas would flow from this young gentleman's tongue. "Why do you look so down? You had a long week I bet" he asked genuinely."Had a long 10 years." She thought. "Yes, it has been a bit hectic at the office." She retorted subconsciously brushing her bangs away from her face.He smiled at her then they caught eyes, in this moment Sheila began to feel warm and alive. He gazed on her as if he knew all her pain and recognized the insecurities that plagued her day to day life. Sheila wasn't fully prepared for the feelings that came over her. Her eyes flickered nervously, lips puckered and cheeks slowly blushing. It was long time since her body responded with such warmth. She naturally became defensive yet she was eager to indulge. "Who do you think you are?" She thought. She wanted to belittle his confidence but at the same time curious to search for the story behind his eyes. They were filled with wisdom and mystery. She was lost for words with the only option to linger her eyes on his in an attempt to hold her ground firmly. "Don't be so sad, you are an attractive lady" he said charmingly lifting her chin with his index finger. He knew what he had to do, he understood the power of words. "Th- Thank you." She responded, flattered and doe-eyed. She hadn't received a genuine compliment in years. A few deep breaths later she calmed, he broke her rhythm of breathing with his boldness-- he caught her off-guard. Amazed of what she just heard, she smiled on the inside and certainly on the outside. The bus stopped, his friends called out to him-- it was his time to disembark. He look at her in admiration, winked and said "Good-bye". He said so little but yet so much. Sheila was stunned, not everyday do you come across a personality so warm and genuine.Fernando, her diabolical husband then crept into her memory-- he haunted her. He hadn't looked at her like this young gentlemen did in over a decade. Sheila tolerated Fernando's drunken eyes and fumes from his breath while he selfishly claimed her body the unsatisfactory few nights he attempted to make love to her for over a decade. ******The young man on the bus occupied her thoughts for days. This encounter was a turning point in her life, the attention of a younger man was flattering and also reassuring. The young man's presence was brief but powerful, it revitalized her inner energy to search for love. The feelings of adoration had become unfamiliar to her. The charming fellow inspired. He offered a taste of what she was missing in her life. The effects of the encounter lingered for a few days. Her face brightened now, modestly applied make-up and even signs of a trip to the hair-dresser. Naturally blended colors on her blouse insinuating her womanly curves. It reflected what she felt on the inside. Sheilas attitude on life was revamped. She couldn't believe she allowed the thought of Fernando spoil her inhibitions. Sheila did not hate him, never judged him; the mind is fragile- full of secrets. The reason why Fernando devoted so much time to the bottle will never be known. To understand the roots of his pain and willingness to share it's devastating effects would provoke flirtatious mingling with insanity. This rationalization made it easier for him to be suppressed in her mind.Another Friday night on the way home Sheila sat on the bus pondering what repertoire of pleasant possibilities the present day held in store. A week passed without meeting the young man again, her patience began to wer thin. Watching the doorway she began to feel anxious, her heart thumped under her bosom and butterflies frenzied in her stomach as the bus approached the familiar stop. She was disappointed when only a stranger entered once again as her anticipated roguery seemed to slip through her fingers. When the bus drove off and the doors closed on her hopes she let out a "sigh" continuing to gaze through the window into the streets in fear of returning to the monotony of her life. "How foolish am I?" She thought, insecurity was uncovered. "I'm about to be choked up about this fellow and I don't even know his name" she said inwardly.The sound of Janine's voice slowly awakened Sheila."Mummy, you've been sleeping all day. Are you feeling ill?" Janine asked.Sheila looked at her daughter disarrayed momentarily, then her eyes shifted around in terror to the familiarity of her bedroom. Disappointed crept onto her face as a sense of self-realization came to her-- awakened to a nightmare. The scent of Fernando's socks and the pants he wet the evening before confirmed this reality. The dream was still fresh in her mind, it moved her spiritually. She understood now, to leave Fernando was the only option- he stifled her happiness. The young man in the dream may have been an angel delivering some truth. Or maybe this is the infinite intelligence that spoke to her. Her thoughts began to string together as she laid staring into the ceiling. "Janine, I'm fine. Kindly prepare a cup of tea for me." She replied wearily.Her mood became more pensive as she decided her future. She searched for her journal to get this uprising of emotions of her chest-she desperately needed to tame her thoughts. This dream needed to be deciphered to grasp some greater truths. Sheila's journal was her haven of peace; she had discovered the therapeutic nature of writing. It may have been the only thing to keep her sanity during the constant stress that played on her mind. Eventually she began to stream her thoughts in ink, in this moment her hand writing was a bit different in style than the previous entries. The letters were thoroughly shaped, slanted to the right rather than left, more cursive, higher and lower tails as well. She wrote slowly with less pressure now on the paper, writing from the soul free from urgency-- only truth flowed from her fingers. As Sheila wrote the hairs on the back of her neck stood up, shivers ran down her spine and her rhythm of breathing slower than the usual. She wrote:"Life is a journey; we encounter situations never perceived to the mind. We hope for calculated success in our endeavors and to live happily ever after in love. Love can never be planned, it is never obvious. There is no structure we can expect. The traditional norms we believe to exist is an assumed fallacy. The ideology of how scenarios suppose to or should work is often predetermined but almost never the case. When it comes to love there is no critique and certainly no judgment. Love is selfish, the only factor that shapes the scenario is our own needs and wants. I have tried my best to stay with tradition and my husband. I am tired; my temperament grows more volatile as I am losing my mind. It is time for me to be selfish. The children are old enough now, there is no need to for me to be trapped in this prison anymore."The nights shuffled passed and Shelia planned her escape. Her thoughts were clear, she said nothing to him, her eyes only glance over his staggering and belligerent vehicle of madness; wondering what would become of him without the only pillar in his life. She slipped away beyond the horizon with only a note on the dresser mirror and a faint and also unintentional butterfly kiss too on her daughter's forehead-- Janine had already been prepared.Note:"I wish you peace as I will always love you Fernando, but I need to be free. I need to be loved; I've had enough. Grandma will stop by soon to pick up Janine. Please don't look for me. Good-bye"Sheila inhaled deeply as she drove her car on the freeway, in this moment she realized that she had grown used to breathing shallow-- trapped in stress. Exhaling now, slowly the demons and bounds of Fernando left her psyche. It was the first breath of fresh air she had in years.
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