Help, in Various Forms

On a recent mid-day bus ride, only a few people were on the bus. In the seat in front of me, a young woman’s jet black hair was teased into playful spikes. She had bright black eyelashes, and her nose and lower lip were embellished with metal rings. A middle-aged woman in a tan coat boarded the bus and sat down across the aisle from her. When the bus pulled away from the curb, the older woman started breathing very heavily and talking to herself. Her voice got louder and louder: “No, stop, stop, I need to get off the bus!” The young woman instantly reached across the aisle, placed her hand on the older one’s arm, looked her in the eye and said, “It sucks now, but it’ll get better.” The panicked woman stared back, transfixed, and after a moment said, “OK.” Her breathing slowed. The younger one said, “That happens to me a lot.” She removed her hand from the woman’s sleeve, reached into her own bag, and pulled out a small bottle. “Have you tried Ativan?” The older woman said, “No, what does it do?” “It has totally helped me with my anxiety. See if your doctor will give you some.” The older woman said, “Let me write down the name.” Then, a third woman sitting behind them leaned forward and said, “She’s right – those really work.” The older woman nodded and copied the information from the prescription bottle. She smiled at both of them and said, “Thanks.” She tucked the pen and paper into her purse, and with a confident and hopeful manner continued her bus ride.

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