The Bus Ride Home

Pam had enjoyed her trip out with her friend Janet.  They often met on a Saturday afternoon, went for a bit of a walk then found a café to reward themselves with a coffee and maybe a slice of cake.  This morning as she looked out of the window she knew that it was going to be a fine autumn day.  Unusually for the end of October it was mild, and although the wind was cold, it was bright and sunny; so they had decided to do their favourite walk on the common and then stop at the little coffee shop in the garden centre.  They scuffed through the fallen leaves as they walked along the country paths, and built up quite an appetite.

There were a few other people in the coffee shop even though they didn’t get there til three o’clock, but they found a nice little table by the window overlooking the bedding plants and water features.  There were pumpkin lanterns on every table and bits of spider web decorating the counter.

“It’s getting very commercial isn’t it?” observed Janet, “It was never like this when I was young.”

“I think it’s all probably quite harmless,” laughed Pam.  “the kids at church are having a light party this evening – they all have to dress up as a superhero instead of a witch or hobgoblin.  My two grandchildren want to go as Spiderman – even though they’re both girls!”

“Still, I put a stop to all that trick or treat nonsense.” smirked Janet. “Last year I spent ages covering sprouts in chocolate and then wrapping them in gold foil to look like those fancy chocolates – I heard someone talking about it on the radio and thought I’d give it a try!  I bet they won’t be back this year!”

Finishing their drinks, the two women went for a wander round the garden centre and were pleased to find some spring bulbs in the bargain bin at half price.  Glancing at her watch Pam saw that it was gone four thirty, so they headed for the exit.

“Right love, can I drop you home?” asked Janet as they got to the car park.

“That’s kind dear, but I’m fine on the bus – the 130 drops me right near home.”

bus 130After she’d waved goodbye to Janet as she drove off, Pam walked briskly by the edge of the common.  It was a short walk down the lane to get to the bus stop which was in a little shelter in case it rained, with a comfy bench.   It was normally well-lit but the light was broken.  Pam pulled her collar up as she waited at the bus stop – it would be dark soon and it was getting decidedly chilly.  Looking on the timetable it looked like she had just missed a bus and had a twenty minute wait.  She started to rethink the wisdom of having turned down the offer of a lift, but she hated not to be independent.  It seemed like ages waiting in the middle of nowhere in the twilight as it got steadily colder.  She saw the moon come out and the first stars, and tried not to jump at the slightest sound.  She envied the people driving past in their warm cars and was relieved when the little single-decker bus trundled into view.

Smiling at the chubby blonde driver, she pressed her freedom pass on the card reader.  The bus wasn’t too busy – just a loud bunch of kids at the back and a few other passengers.  The bus was cosy and warm after being stood outside, and she gazed out of the window, enjoying the hypnotic effect of the lights in the houses and shops as she travelled the familiar route home.  She wasn’t sorry when the noisy bunch of young people got off the bus in town, she wondered if they were off to a party.  The last part of the journey was the bit when the bus went all round the estate before going on to her village which was at the end of the route.  Gradually people got off the bus until she saw that there was only one other passenger, a middle-aged man carrying a duffle bag.  Unfortunately she became aware that he just kept staring at her – until she dropped her gaze.

“Maybe he’s lonely.” she thought and smiled at him warmly, but he didn’t take the opportunity to speak.  Just stared at her again until she started looking out of the window.  The trouble was looking at the reflection in the window told her he was still staring at her.  She moved her seat so that she was sitting nearer the front.  She caught the driver’s eye, and was comforted by a big grin from the middle aged woman.  Maybe she had read her mind because the driver called out:  “Never mind our Colin dear, he doesn’t mean any harm.  He gets off next stop anyway.”

She watched as ‘Colin’ got off the bus, to be met by a older lady who waved at the bus driver before taking her son’s hand and walking slowly up the road with him.

“Just us now love!” called the driver with a reassuring smile.  Pam settled back into a her seat and rested her eyes – in ten minutes she would be home with just enough time to get the kettle on before ‘Strictly’ started!

The driver smiled as she looked into her rear view mirror – funny, no-one ever noticed that she had no reflection.  She was glad there was no-one else left on the bus – it made it so much easier to dispose of the body.

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