Grace leaned against the wall, listlessly scanning the traffic, wearily waiting for the bus to arrive.
She sighed, turning her attention to the cars and vans speeding by, a constant stream of noise and fumes, only subsiding for the beep beep beep of the pedestrian crossing. A woman pushing a pram rushed by, head down, mouth set hard, shutting out the world around her.
For the hundredth time Grace wondered why she’d bothered. It always seemed such a good idea when she set off, but it always ended with this.
A man stood next to her and fiddled with his i-pod, the volume so high Grace could hear the pump pump pump of the beat. But no tune, no melody, just white noise.
Raising her gaze to the sky, she saw a patch of blue emerge from the grey heavy clouds and smiled.
She had always managed to find beauty in small things. Her children were always laughing at her. Far too easily pleased as far as they were concerned.
Shifting her weight to her other leg, she fidgeted and watched the man put the volume of his music up even higher.
There was no bang, bang, bang, this time though. Curious, Grace listened harder.
The rhythm of a piano, then a voice singing “When you’re alone….”
She felt her stomach somersault. Her song. Their song. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or do both.
Closing her eyes, she felt time shift. There was no bus stop, no traffic, no hustle and bustle; just a country lane winding through golden fields of wheat.
Grace was running, laughing, her long dark hair blowing behind her in the breeze, knee-high socks half way down her ankles, pink sundress stained with the juice of the wild blackberries they’d been picking.
Tom was ahead standing on a wall, waving his arms above his head. “Look out world, here I come,” he was shouting, “Look out, look out!”
Then she tripped and fell, grazing her knee, watching the blood seep down onto her white plimpsoles.
“I will rescue you,” shouted Tom as he jumped onto the grass.
“Here,” he said, holding his out his hand to help her up.
“My hero,” she’d laughed.
Pulling her towards him, he started to sing, “Downtown…” and they’d danced, giggling, to the music in their head, accompanied by birdsong and illuminated by a bright yellow sun hanging heavy over the distant hills.
He would sneak up behind Grace and sing it into her ear when she was sad, and ambush her in the kitchen when she was cooking dinner, sweeping them both around the lino floor as he sang, laughing.
And as she remembered, she was happy again. Young , hopeful, secure.
Then she opened her eyes and he wasn’t there anymore.
This bus stop had replaced Tom’s wall long ago. The road had buried their country lane.
Grace had walked here every day since he’d died. And today, fleetingly, she’d found him.
Copyright Chris Penhall 2013