The Slow-Cooked Sentence

A bus exchange

Rachael Conlin Levy

The Slow-Cooked Sentence kicks off this month’s group of guest posts with one from my sister Kyna, who writes about geting a second shot at vanquishing a childhood ghost that’s returned to haunt her small son. Enjoy!

“illusion” courtesy of Lauren Marek.

The woman sitting across from us on the bus is old, so when she leans forward and shouts, “Is that your boy?” I raise my voice to answer, too. “Yes.” I nod and smile.

“Well, he sure is a SKINNY one!”

My smile quickly turns to a grimace and I pull my son into my lap, looking to see if he’s following this conversation.

“He’s got the BONIEST little KNEES…”

I look at her for a long moment and say nothing. She leans forward and points a finger at his legs.

“I said, he’s got the BONIEST -“

“You know, he can understand you,” I interrupt.

My face feels hot. It seems the whole bus is listening (and no wonder, this is exactly the kind of exchange I love to watch).

“WHAT?” she shouts.

I know she’s just looking to have a conversation, but my irritation grows. I’m thinking of all the hurtful things people said to me growing up. Toothpick. Bird legs. Stick girl. How much worse will it be for my son, since he’s a boy?

“You are being very rude.”

“Oh! Well…”

She rearranges her belongings and purses her lips. Thankfully the next stop is mine. Once we’re on the sidewalk Dagan asks, “Who’s that lady?”

“I don’t know. I just don’t think she was being very nice.”

“Why?” Dagan asks.

I stop and look at him. He’s watching me carefully. If he’s upset, it’s only because I am.

“What did that lady say, Dagan?”

He stretches his arms to the sky.

“She said I have looooong legs.”

We laugh a little and set off down the street.

About the writer: Kyna Conlin Moser works at Literacy Source, a nonprofit center in Seattle. She’s supporting her family while her husband attends Bastyr University to become a naturopathic doctor. She’s pregnant with their second child. She blogs at Our Seattle and Blue Sky Sketches.

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