On the Bus

February 3, 2010

You awoke in the early evening, I was not there. When I returned you demanded a bus trip, for mid-afternoon tea out of a plastic cup in a new and exciting location. On the way back you remember my absence, and are annoyed that I have been away. You intend to punish me with your conversational, guilt-inducing questions.

‘Where did you go?’ you demand, hostility impatient like a child’s.

‘Lots of places,’ I reply.

‘What kinds of places?’

I hesitate, but I do not have the power to lie to you.

‘I got on a train and went to a supermarket far away.’

‘Without me? You know we don’t get on trains on our own’ – you are anxiously disgruntled, and then just anxious – ‘It isn’t safe’.

The bus stops. Outside in the street a black dog barks and secures your paranoia.

‘Look! Look.

You point out of the window.

I reach into my pocket and take out a bottle of pills. Green.

‘Here.’

You scowl, hold out your hand, grab and swallow.

‘Crackpot-voodoo-witchdoctor-quack’, you say.

‘It’s good for you,’ I say.

You turn your back to me and talk to the glass.

‘Well?’

The bus-window sees your wrath. I peer at your reflection and try to explain.

‘I wanted to see new places.’

‘And new people? I expect you wanted to see them too!’

‘Some new people. Only some.’

A melodramatic change of posture, you fix on me with your one good eye. Then the green pill works its way through your veins and you relax.

‘It’s too late to apologise now. But – ’

Hand raised in a symbol of peace your crooked fingers issue their benevolent blessing,

‘I forgive you your trespasses, anyway.’

You grow hazy.

‘I like the pigeons.’

‘I know you do.’

‘Can we go and read to them tomorrow?’

‘Alright.’

You lapse into silence. I think you might be sleeping. The bus stops at a red light. You stir, and I realise you are watching me.

‘Who did you meet?’ you ask, curiosity sleepy like a child’s.

‘I made a new friend.’

‘Better than me? Do you love him, or her, or it, more than you love me?’

‘No one,’ I reply, ‘I love no one more than you.’

She told me that was her name. ‘I am No one,’ she said.

Satisfied, you close your eye to dream, and the bus drives on.

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