“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.
"Bus Stop People,"
Mānoa Horizons: Vol. 3
, Article 23.
Available at: https://kahualike.manoa.hawaii.edu/horizons/vol3/iss1/23