Click and a Swing

I took the scenic route to my bus stop, bordering along broken pavements and running puddles. The pigeons in this city seem to have lost all sense of flight; they shuffle near my feet cooing their discontent. My Chuck Taylor’s were a poor choice in the sudden downpour, but no matter, I was almost there anyway. The pedestrian lights turned green, and like a mini Tokyo the intersection buzzed with people, some teetering on the edge before hitting the bitumen while others raced forwards, umbrellas at the ready. I quickened my pace trying to keep up with the stern looking bank teller huffing his way through the crowd. I gave myself a mental gold star when I overtook him. 

The familiar sense of abandonment settled in when I realised my bus was three minutes late. I anxiously looked up the road, but my fear was availed when the lumbering vehicle spat to a halt in front of us all. A brief moment of scuffling and well choreographed shoving of the schoolboys next to me and I was on, striding past the ambulant seating and making for the middle ground. Kind of like the wannabe popular kid who doesn't want to get into too much trouble. 

I watched the others clamber on and choose their seating, all the while I searched for my headphones stuck deep in the pockets of my Herschel. 

Finally the bus lurched forwards and I was on my way home. 

I took interim of those around me. 

A girl, no older than I sat diagonally across me. She clutched a plastic shopping bag and balanced a green stroller across her knees. No child in sight. I wondered if she was expecting, or if she was going to pick up her infant from daycare. Or maybe she was taking it for a friend or family member. I wondered if she knew I was thinking about her. 

Further ahead a middle aged man sat with his head in his hands, leaning forward with his headphone cord hanging loosely in front of him. I stayed with him for a moment until he raised his head and I noticed he was crying. Whether the song was sad or something worse, I don't know. I averted my eyes to give him some privacy. “I’ve been there” I thought. 

Directly in front of me, in the seat ahead, was a girl who had walked with me all the way to the bus stop. Her ash brown hair slightly frizzed by the rain, she was reading a complicated chemistry book while her headphones burrowed deep into her ears. “Good for you” I thought. “I can barely type while listening to music.” 

I could see the schoolboys in the driver’s rear view reflection. The four of them sat in a huddle right at the very back. Two of them kept their back packs on while the other two held theirs firmly between their feet. They were craning their necks to watch the middle boy play a video on his phone. An eruption of laughter told me it had reached it’s epitome. 

We all carried on forward.

The girl with the stroller exited at a shopping centre. I hoped she was meeting someone. The chemistry girl left a few stops before I did. I wondered if I would run into her again. The crying man had since stopped his melancholy and was now staring wistfully out the window. I mentally said goodbye to him and wished him luck as I too exited the bus. 

I adjusted the straps on my back pack and turned the volume lower on my music due to wanting the best of both worlds: natural sounds with a personalised sound track. 

I watched my shoes kick up droplets of water mixed with grass buds along the parklands. It changed from green to grey as I rounded my street, playing a game of balance along the road’s edge. The familiar houses greeted me just as they had bid me goodbye earlier that day. I waved away the indifference of realising there was no mail in the letter box. 

I took notice of the rain battered driveway and flowers that had tried to withstand the wind but had failed, their petals now strewn across the neighbourhood. “Don’t worry, you’ve only made more of yourselves.” I thought to the flowers. 

I reached behind myself to the pocket where my keys were, only now removing my headphones to make sure I was alone. 

With a gentle click and a swing; welcome home. 

Elena Luna