Brandt’s headache made her wish her eyes would bulge out of her head as if it could relieve the pressure. It didn’t hurt so much as it felt full. Like all her thoughts had taken on some tangible form and were waiting to be expelled.
She dropped onto the bench without clearing the fluffy snow piled upon it. The cold air she inhaled made her nostrils cling together briefly, and the bitter chill gave her a momentary reprieve. Only momentary. She should have taken her mother up on the offer of a ride to school, but Brandt enjoyed riding the city bus. They were full of people to watch, to mentally dissect as she tried to pick apart the pieces of their stories.
A trickle of snowmelt from her hair found its way down the collar of her parka. She lifted her hand to wipe it away, her phone tumbling to the snow-covered ground. With her thick gloves, she couldn’t get a decent grasp on it, and finally relented to pull one off with her teeth. She leaned far over and picked it up, just as the bus pulled up, the brakes releasing air as the wheels made small waves of the filthy road slush.
She snatched the phone from the ground and tucked it into her pocket as she hopped up to mount the steps onto the bus, grasping the rail with her bare hand.
Pain drove sharply between her eyes as it felt like her brain had just exploded in her head. Her thoughts shattered, shrapnel shooting in every direction as phantom flashes of people, coming and going, racing up and down the stairs and off to other places she could also see glimpses of. The strings of their paths overlapped and tangled into a tapestry of excruciation and she fell to the ground screaming.
@b.r. hill-mann 2019