wordwhacker: (NaNo 2004)
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Written for Word #118 over at [livejournal.com profile] 15_minute_fic


Change is Good (flash, 531 words)


"Change is good," she said, but I didn't believe it. In the past couple of days I had learned not to believe anything she said. She occupied the seat next to me on the bus like a perch, barely sitting in it, always standing up, fidgeting, leaning over to read what I was reading and comment on it, as though I had actually solicited her opinion. Three days down, and three to go. I couldn't wait.

"I learned that when I was little, you know," she went on. I could tell from the intensity in her voice that this wasn't a story I could brush off, or only half listen to and placate her with small verbal affirmations. Reluctantly I looked over from my magazine.

"Tell me about it," I said.

She smiled. "Do you really want to hear it?"

I shrugged. "I might as well?"

Suddenly she was concerned. "Are you sure? I don't want to bother you."

Three days. I had to behave for three more days. "No, go ahead."

She frowned. "Now I don't think I should."

"Why?"

"Because you hate me."

She said it with such conviction that for a blinding moment I thought she'd read my thoughts. Then I realized that she was being dramatic and relaxed. "I don't hate you." It was true - I reserved hate for people I wanted dead. I only wanted to be as far away from her as possible.

"Really?"

I nodded. Maybe this was an opening - it was worth a shot. "But please, keep in mind, I'm not as much of a talker as you. I can't hold up a conversation for a whole day. I need breaks."

"Oh." She furrowed her eyebrows as though she was trying really hard to think this through. "You don't really like people, do you?"

"I don't mind them."

"But you don't really like them."

I had to admit, it was refreshing to be the topic of conversation for once. "Well, not overly, but I can deal with them well enough when I have to. And I have my friends."

"If you don't like people, why did you go on a bus trip?"

"I like cities."

She laughed at this, for longer than I thought appropriate. I considered picking up my magazine again when she finally went on. "Cities? Really?"

"Yes, really."

"What's so great about cities?"

"A lot of things. I like exploring the layout, finding interesting restaurants, seeing shows sometimes."

She shook her head, slowly, as though she was in awe. A distainful kind of awe. "So you don't like people, but you like cities."

I was starting to lose my patience. "Yes. That's what I said."

"That doesn't make sense." She sat back and started to laugh to herself, so I took this as my cue to exit the conversation and picked up my magazine again. After a couple of minutes she spoke again. "That's like being an atheist who loves nature."

When I finally processed what she'd said, I realized that any link between us had been severed forever.

At the next town I checked my things out of the undercarriage of the bus and cancelled the rest of my tour. I'd stay in town for a couple of days, maybe see if any shows were playing.

She was right about one thing: change is good.
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