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She gets on and immediately clenches her teeth. The batteries on her CD player are dead. Its going to be 25 minutes of silence on the way to work.

She looks around at the other passengers, mostly older Chicano ladies going home from the 'burbs. She is going against flow, a lily white salmon heading upstream. Downtown.

She starts looking around the bus and notices, for the first time the amount of graffiti on the ceiling, the walls, behind seats. English, Spanish and the coded letters and numbers that gangs use.

U R s0 s63

Brittany duz me

Pedro ama Rosita

And then she sees one little piece. Small dark ink. Hard to see across the aisle. She looks away. But curious, she waits till the next stop and steps over to take a closer look. Two lines in simple black ink.

You took the stars when you left
The night is black now forever.

No date. No names. Just those two phrases, slashed into the vinyl. Who would leave such words here? Did he want her to see, or did he want everyone to know his pain? It was like a cross, a bouquet left at an accident site. A remembrance.

Juan Miguel

A voice over her shoulder. It was one of the cleaning ladies. Pointing to the words. And the bus rider notices that she has been tracing the words with her index finger.

Juan wrote it before he died. Such a sad thing that is. So young. So in love.

Pursed lips and sad eyes, looking out the window, watching traffic.

She thought to ask a question, but it seemed morbid. So nothing was said.

Hissing of air brakes. It was her stop.
Time to go.

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