“What a DAY!” She announces with a New Yorker accent, plopping down next to me on the bus. Nothing about her looks familiar, I think to myself. Who is she and why is she talking to me? I clear my throat awkwardly.
“Do I know you?” I ask, but I’m ignored.
“So it started off with these strange people at work today.” She begins. I know this isn’t going to exactly be a short story. “One of ‘em was blue, the other orange, and I hadn’t seen none of them before! They had some real stringy hair, but that’s not the point.” She looks me in the eyes.
“Right.” I say with confusion.
“Okay, and so these strange lookin’ dudes here came up to me while I was walkin’ down the hallway after a meeting. They said to me, ‘Camille, you better come with us’, and I asked ‘em how they knew my name!” The woman who must be Camille says. “And they didn’t even answer me! One was brave enough to grab my hand and try to walk me to wherever they was goin’, but I wasn’t having none of it so he let me be and disappeared with his friend. But when I got back, see, to my office, there was a sticky note on the keyboard! I didn’t see them aliens the rest of the day by the way.” Camille says. Her eyes drift off, as if wondering why she didn’t see them for the first time.
“Anyways,” she continues, locking eyes with me as if she’d known me her whole life, “the note said somethin’ in a language I didn’t understand. I tried to take it off, but it was stuck real tight. And lots a my co-workers were staring at me as I pulled and pulled! Then, one of ‘em came in and just plucked that note right off the letter H and stared at me like I was stupid!” Camille takes a deep breath. She continues to look at me, waiting for an answer or acknowledgement.
“That’s… too bad.” I say, at a loss for words. She continues.
“An’ since he was already there helpin’ me, I asked him if he knew what the note said. He looked at me even more intensely and said, ‘Camille, you okay?’ An’ I said, ‘Yeah, can you tell me what this says? I don’t know what language it is,’ and he looked at me like I’m the stupidest person on Earth and told me, ‘Well, it says, ‘Meet me by that one donut shop across the street’... in English.’ And I stared at him and the note and back again. Then he just handed it to me all disgusted and walked out of my office while everyone else around me just stared. I just waved them off and pondered how the heck he read that as English.” Camille pauses to take another breath.
“So what happens next is that I’m naturally really curious about this whole note thing, right? So of course I go to the donut shop across the street! Who wouldn’t?” She pauses again, and I start to acknowledge what she was saying, but she continues before I have time to say anything.
“And when I got there, there’s someone else like those weird dudes I saw earlier, but this time, she looked like a girl and she was purple instead! Nobody around me really seemed to notice or at least point out that she was purple, for goodness sake. And that lady walked right up to me and told me to come with her, just like the other dudes had said to me. An’ I told her I was fed up with this and told her to tell me what was goin’ on. But then,” Camille says as I start to say something, “that’s not even it!” She says, interrupting me. I shut my mouth.
“And THEN, she touched my shoulder and I ain’t in that donut shop any more! We were in a tea shop now! And I looked around, not knowing how I got there in the first place! And she walked over an’ bought some bags a tea. All sorts a kinds, too! Now that I think about it, she bought at least one of e’ry kind the store had! Then, I realized I knew this tea shop. This was a tea shop that my mama took me to as a kid! An’ I wasn’t even living with my mama no more, not even close to her! After I made that realization, I looked around and that purple girl was gone! An’ I even asked the cashier if she seen the purple lady buying the tea, but she looked at me crazy too and told me that she’d gone an hour without any purchases!” Again, Camille looks at me for acknowledgement. “Well?” She asks when I don’t answer. I’m almost afraid not to, so I do.
“That’s... um… that’s interesting.” I say. She nods her head up and down.
“Yeah it is. So anyhow, this kid comes in-and he’s purple, too -blowing bubbles from his little bubble blower. And he come up to me laughing, and the bubbles all gravitate towards me, and they covered my face, my hands, my whole body! The boy’s laughter just rang in my head, and I ended up opening my eyes, there was no bubbles around me at all, and I was back in the donut shop just standin’ there awkwardly!” Camille exclaims. I nod along with her. Sure, I think. Teleportation bubbles. Purple, orange, and blue people. A sticky note that sticks too well and says things in English that you don’t understand. Sure. But I let her continue, and something tells me I wouldn’t have been able to stop her chatter if I tried.
“So I go back to my work building, and sit at my desk, yada yada, but THEN… yes, there’s more… THEN, those two guys show up again. They come in and sit in some bean bag chairs in the back that I swear wasn’t there before. ‘Let’s talk’, is what they said. And guess what?” She says.
“What?” I say.
“Turns out, all they were wantin’ to do was have a tea party with me! All four of ‘em, they said. The purple lady, the purple kid who’s her son, and the two blue and orange dudes! And they asked me, ‘Hey Camille, you wanna come right?’ and how could I say no to some tea from my favorite tea shop in the world? So I said yes, and we decided they’d meet me off the bus and we’d go to the park and have a nice tea party. I don’t know how they knew my name or where I was gonna get off the bus, but they knew! And now I’m havin’ a tea party after this with my new friends!” Camille takes a moment to catch her breath from all the talking. She had talked so much her face was bright red, and her skin gleamed with sweat.
“Well,” Camille asks, rubbing her face with her hands and leaning back, taking a deep breath. “How was your day?” I’m surprised she actually wanted an answer from me, after this whole time of my occasional “mhm”s or “that’s interesting”s.
“My day was good,” I say cautiously, waiting for an interruption. When that doesn’t come, I continue, relieved. “Actually, at my job, I got a promo-” I don’t finish.
“Oh, my stop! See ya!” Camille says, standing up and bumping into the other people around us standing as well. I watch her walk off the bus. To my surprise, she waves and heads toward a group of people that… I blink. There’s a purple lady, who wears a nice, short dress and holds the hand of a small, purple boy, and two guys, one orange, holding a clear picnic basket with teapot and teacups inside, and one blue, who I can tell is blushing slightly from the pink on his cheeks and down his neck. Camille walks up to them, smiling, and they all start walking away from the bus. I watch them like a hawk as the bus slowly pulls away, back into traffic. I keep my eyes trained on the group until finally, they round a corner, out of sight.