Stepping up from the drizzling darkness that changed snow to slush at my feet, I climbed onto the bus, swallowed by the jaundiced warmth to join my fellow riders, isolated from the world in their cocoons of rayon, wool and leather.
Taking a seat as the bus pulled away from the curb, I too slowly descended into mental torpor, an oblivious partner on a journey across the east end of town, the warm companionship of time spent with a friend leaching from my body like the heat of a dying ember.
But before I entered my traveler’s coma, a brief flash forced its way onto slumbering retinas, drawing my attention to the window beside me. And yet, I saw little other than the salined grime of the city that blocked my view of the houses that I knew rolled past in the darkening night.
And then another flash. Or perhaps it was a splash.
Ready now, I waited and watched, and was soon rewarded with flares of green and orange and red and white. An aurora transportis dazzled my eyes, unheard musical notes traversing my optic nerve to tickle my brain.
And as quickly as those colours had passed, white puddles of light twinkled at shoulder height, blebbing through the mire; abstract art painted from the other side of a translucent canvas for my pleasure.
Reds, blues, whites mingled with greens, mauves and yellows. Or blinked out of existence altogether, only to reappear elsewhere before my eyes. Multi-hued ballerinas and dervishes spinning without purpose; colour without design; existence the only goal.
As my conscious brain finally arose from its slumber, awaken by the visceral tarantella that stomped the grey matter, I began to understand what I was seeing.
The salted matting that covered the bus windows could not hold back the shine of the many porch lights, Christmas lights, headlights and street lights that I passed on my journey, instead providing myriad prisms through which the photons waved their many lengths.
The very mire that weighted and closed my world was the vector through which the display existed to dazzle.
Unfortunately, consciousness came at a price as my understanding of what I was seeing meant that I now saw what I understood. And although the display continued until I reached my destination, it was slightly dimmed as mental clarity broke through grimed windows.
But even as I mourn the loss, I am warmed by the memory, and even if I never experience it again, I have been changed by my journey through a tunnel of light and colour.