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He watched her from beneath hooded eyelids as she took the seat directly across from him. She seemed oblivious to his scrutiny, as she folded a white piece of paper she’d been carrying and put it in her purse. He wondered what was written on that paper and why she’d hidden it so quickly. Maybe she had seen him watching her after all.
As the bus continued on its bumpy path, passengers swaying in time to an unheard beat, the folded paper grew on his mind. A few more stops, people came and went, but the content of the paper was all he could think about. By the time she pulled the bell, that paper – and the wisdom it contained – was the most important thing in his life. He felt if just knew what was written there, he would understand everything and all of his problems would be solved. He could lead a normal life!
She walked to the front of the bus and exited, the purse containing The Paper slung casually over her shoulder. He couldn’t let this chance pass him by. He might never see her again! The thought distressed him so badly it felt like someone punched him in the gut. He jumped to his feet and hurried to the back of the bus as quickly as he dared. She was already a few paces ahead of him. He stepped off the bus and followed her.
She turned the corner and her phone rang. She answered it and began chattering happily to someone. He wanted to wait until she got off the phone but he needed that paper. He was just barely able to wait long enough for her to reach a part of the sidewalk that was concealed from the street by bushes and a large dumpster.
She made a small gurgling sound as he slit her throat. He tore the bag from her shoulder and searched frantically for the paper. Where was it? Where was it??? Ah! There! He unfolded the paper, his hands shaking and his mouth dry. What he found was this, neatly typed in the middle of the page:
- Who was your strongest influence?
- How would you describe yourself?
- What are your goals?
- Where do you want to be in five (5) years?
- What is the most important event of your life so far?
He looked at the paper for a long time. Then he folded it up very carefully and put it in his pocket. He thought no more about it as he boarded the later bus.
by Shelly Schwimmer
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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at