Art by Melissa Mead
I is for Inertia
by Tim Pratt, Jenn Reese, Heather Shaw, Greg van Eekhout
I see Millie at the bus stop every morning. She's there when I arrive, knitting something shapeless that she never seems to finish. When my bus pulls up, she glances at the destination ticker, shakes her head, and goes back to her yarn. She had cats, but they're all dead now. A man at the stop asked about them last week. Yet fur clings to her black pea coat, and probably always will.
I see her every morning, but I forget her every day. Filing is dull, but it requires focus. So do phone calls, travel arrangements, and ordering lunch for a conference room full of wankers. I asked for mustard, not mayo, sweetheart. Didn't you write it down? My Ph.D. in medieval studies means nothing here, but admittedly, it means nothing most places. I doodle swords in my day planner and dream of peasant uprisings. I asked for cows, not pigs, wench. Grow thee a brain.
At night, when I get off the bus, Millie is still at the bus stop. Or maybe she's there again. She's wearing different clothes under her cat-marked coat, and knitting something shapeless in a different color. I will forget all about her by the time I get home.
Except tonight I've got a mustard stain on my best blouse, a papercut on my thumb, and the bitter tang of entitlement on my tongue.