Next Stop Everyday Metamorphosis

The bus was packed, as it was every morning. People’s daily schedules crossed like a tangled cluster, intersecting for a few moments on the commute before untangling again. I sat at the very back, as I always do on my way to work. Or rather, I deposited my exhausted self into a seat, to put it more accurately. I hated mornings – hence the rear seat. I used the ride for a mental change from professional morning-hater to just plain professional. The rear seat was also good in case one of my smooth colleagues caught the same bus and forced some chirpy early-morning chatter on me: zero chance of squeezing your way through the crowd with one of those slim, stylish lattes.

The bus came to a smooth stop. I remained safely tucked into my seat. Through half-opened eyes, I noticed a young woman deftly weaving her way through the tightly packed crowd. Full of verve, she took the seat next to mine, which had just become vacant. She wore a dark green coat and had sleek shoulder-length hair. It was mousy blond. Why call it blond at all, really? She rummaged around in her oversized purse, and the heavy scent of roses filled my nose. I took another peek. The inner lining of her bag shimmered golden like its own little universe, a strange treasure. She produced a silvery oval and opened it, causing a ray of light to fall on her face. She powdered her face, then put the oval back into her purse. The scent filled the back of the bus, hanging over me in the corners of the windows. She got out something else and used it to quickly and expertly highlight her face. I slowly became awake. The young woman seemed to have grown. Her skin now had a china-like quality to it, and her hair appeared significantly blonder and warmer. Then she exchanged the small palette with something to work on her lashes. I held my breath – a potentially quite dangerous task, especially now, as she seemed to glimmer stronger and stronger out of the rusty-coloured seat. Her lips were dark red now, and she wrapped a soft-white scarf around her neck. She seemed to have grown older. Or maybe the opposite – I don‘t know. Just like that, a change of identity on the sticky seat in the back row. I wanted to tell her that she ought to get out now. It wasn‘t her world anymore, or she was sitting in the wrong context. This was only a stopover for her, probably every day, a moving suitcase for her transformation. It felt like in Dead in the Water: the casual metamorphosis in public. This is everyday metamorphosis, I thought... I was fully awake now. She had already gotten up, though, and the bus stopped with a soft jolt. I only caught her back, striding to the exit at an appropriate pace.

Then she was gone. I remained stuck in my seat. Some of her heavy rosy scent remained on my left earlobe. Now I needed one of those stupid slim lattes. Suddenly, I had the urgent desire to transform myself as well.