• The resonance of sirens and car horns infiltrated Leah’s eardrums as she woke from her peaceful slumber on the Greyhound charter bus. The sound of her make-shift alarm clock was an intangible indication that she had finally reached the city. Getting acquainted with her immediate surroundings, she surveyed the unfamiliar beings cloaked in white who were occupying the front and back of the vehicle, which placed her in the strategic middle. The majority was either reclusively reading the daily paper, joyously conversing with new friends in close proximity, or still asleep in an uncomfortable position. Whatever the congregation was doing, they knew that the next stop would be their last. Preferring to be more reclusive, Leah dug through the tan corduroy bag guarding the seat beside her and pulled out her favorite novel and necessary accessory, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

    Those who used to be familiar with the young lady knew that she always had Shakespeare by her side. They were an inseparable pair: both romantics, both dreamers. Be it the humorous A Midsummer Night’s Dream or the tragic King Lear, she constantly managed to have a play or a specific sonnet to correspond with her personality for the day, month, or even year. Unable to experience the delicate nineteenth year, Leah had been admiring the catastrophic love between Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet. She could relate to the corruptible, sacrificial relationship, where her own Romeo had lured her away from an opulent lifestyle and into a lonesome downfall.

    She listlessly opened the novel she has read more than a handful of times, tucked her long hazelnut hair behind her ears, and began to serve as the audience of Shakespeare’s finest. As the Greyhound edged around tight street corners and patiently lingered at red lights, Leah remained enticed by the ardent words of Romeo.

    As soon as the bus crawled into its terminus, she put down her novel and observed in awe as everyone rose at the command of the now dormant Greyhound. Remaining in her seat, she felt the ebb and flow of the human tide as they instinctively clutched their belongings and flooded out of the vehicle once the driver released the levy. Through the window, she watched as the eclectic crowd embraced one another with smiles on their faces. There were strangers congratulating each other and expressing genuine bliss as they departed the garage in a group and faded into the clean sapphire sky ahead of them. It was distressing that they had forgotten Leah, but it was also troublesome for her to be incapable of enjoying a life changing event. That fact only reminded her that she was forced to take the journey as one, rather than with another. But that was her sacrifice for-

    “-You gettin’ off?” the bus driver’s voice seemed to echo through her personal narration and snap her back into present reality.

    She immediately removed herself from the glass and turned towards the man (or at least the back of his head) who had diligently guided the congregation to the crowded metropolis. Leah timidly nodded at the bus driver’s covered head as he examined her through his rear-view mirror, and she gathered her belongings into her bag. Ten nervous paces away from the leather, navy blue seat, the young woman’s face flushed with realization. She promptly took back those steps to find her current prized possession abandoned and forgotten under the seat. Only the corner of the novel with the name, “Juliet” shone in the light while “Romeo &” remained in the shadows to reprimand Leah’s unusual negligence. Murmuring an apology to poor Romeo and Juliet, she crouched over to retrieve the two, and protectively placed them into her shoulder bag.

    “You’re new to this, ain’t ya?” the driver witnessed the girl’s crime from his rather large and worldly rear view mirror.

    “Yes, sir,” she replied with an instinctual air of reverence as she studied the reflection in which she was able to catch a glimpse of the man’s aged, judicious eyes just before the brim of his dark blue cap covered them in the mirror.

    “I’m sure you’ll get along fine in your new home,” the faceless man lowered his cap even more over his eyes, crossed his arms, and relaxed in the driver’s seat as if he were ready to fall asleep.

    “I hope so,” Leah whispered as she made her way to the front of the Greyhound, ready to enter the city, only to pause for a minute next to her driver. In realization, she fished the novel out of her bag and placed in on the dashboard. “I don’t think I will need this anymore,” she smiled at the man resting.

    “I don’t think so either,” he murmured under his hat with a chuckle and allowed her to make her first step into paradise.

    With confident and elegant strides, Leah entered the city with a countenance full of the same angelic elation that the other passengers had.