Xueying sat down in the second row without even registering that she had boarded the bus. Just another work day, or so it seemed – and the commute by now was nothing but routine. The motions of walking, boarding, and sitting were all performed completely mindlessly. It was only when the ride began that Xueying seemed to snap out of this haze.
Today, she opened her bag and pulled out a book. It was a three-hundred-page coming-of-age novel set in the snowy countryside, and it had been recommended to her by her adult son. Xueying opened to the bookmarked page, settled back, and started to read. She was lucky that motion sickness did not plague her.
As Henry walked along the winding path that led down to the river, he was barely able to see his feet beneath him, buried as they were in the blinding white…
Her son did not often recommend books to her. Xueying was determined to find out why – why this particular book, why now, why to his mother. She would read it from cover to cover, multiple times if she had to. She knew there was some deeper meaning behind it. Her son was wise and sensitive to such things. He would not hand her a book out of the blue without reason.
Just as Xueying was finishing another chapter, her phone buzzed in her pocket. She marked the page, set the book down on her lap, and went to check the message. It was a younger coworker, asking for advice on their current engineering project. Xueying thought about it for a few minutes while staring expressionlessly out the window.
Henry turned around. “You’re late,” he said casually. “Sometimes being prompt isn’t a good thing,” his friend replied. “But you know, if you ever”…
Xueying answered her coworker’s question, put her phone away, and went back to the book.
Thirty or so minutes remained on the commute – there would be plenty of time to finish.