Article Title

Bus Stop People


“Bus Stop People” is a short story that is rooted in my daily experience, inspired by people I’ve met as a regular rider of Oahu’s public transit system. Like virtually all of my realistic fiction, this story attempts to shed light on a broad social problem—in this case mental illness—through the narrow lens of individual characters in dialogue-driven prose. In this story, I focused on the complicated relationship between Lila, a young woman struggling with mental illness, and her younger sister, Ava. I stretched as a writer by attempting complex characterization, with each character serving essentially a dual role. My goal was to have each resonate as a unique person, while also symbolizing aspects of a societal problem our community fails to humanely address. Honolulu has the highest per-capita population of homeless people in the United States, some of whom are mentally ill and live at bus stops; these are the people I have met. In “Bus Stop People,” Lila signifies the complexity and relentlessness of mental illness. Ava serves as a stand-in for those in the community, who, while not wholly unsympathetic, want most of all for the problem to disappear. The unnamed little girl, who is both Lila’s hallucination and a reflection of her conscience, represents my own and our society’s collective desire to help, and the sense of hopelessness that occurs when we are unable to do so.