I glance down the narrow bus aisle and adjust my eyes to the view up ahead. My contact lenses hate the transition from short-sighted book words to long sighted night vision. I can see my stop approaching. It’s amazing how your mind habitually knows the twists and turns of a familiar route whilst at the same time you are engrossed in another world.
Two button presses later and I am edging my way along the aisle, bumping bag against seat sides as I make my way down and out of the bus.
The night is fresh, noisy and smells of Doner Kebab. As I walk along the footpath I fumble into my bag to find my ear pods.
Once settled into my stride after I have hit shuffle on my iTunes I go back into my own world for my final leg of the commute until I’m home.
Katsu curry…..how do you make the chicken? I’m sure you get the breast, coat in mayo and then dip in panko breadcrumbs. I guess I could cheat and use a bag of chicken nuggets……that would be quick. Nah, do it from scratch, Dillon will know the difference. Ok, I will stop at the One Stop and grab some fresh chicken, oh and maybe some more mayo……..
I don’t know what comes first. The intake of air or the feeling that I can’t get the air out. It’s the air out part, I can’t breathe, I can’t get the air out. A memory from school, being winded by the football. I remember this, winded. I can’t take the air in….I can’t breathe. It was so quick, the shock on my back, the rudeness of the shove, no it wasn’t a shove it was something stronger, it was violent, something hard and heavy and evil has hit my back……ear pods flying, i-phone turning so slowly, my bag, my things….the cold concrete, the pain, so much pain. In the distance, I hear a siren……that was quick.
I have never been so afraid. I know I am hurt. I know I am badly, badly hurt. This is how it will end for me. All those years of wondering how my time would come, now I know. The feeling of knowing almost gives me relief. The pain, I feel red all over me. The pain starts to change as another pain hurts more. I see my mums face. I can smell her hair. I am little, she is big, her hand is on my cheek. I feel safe there, it’s familiar. How can she be here? This quickly?
“Adalyn?”, she is stroking my hand. I squeeze her fingers.
“Mum” I hear myself speak even though my lips feel strange.
“Stand up, come on, stand up”, she pulls me. Surely I can’t stand? Not after that, that thing hit my back. There was too much pain for standing…..wait, the pain has gone.
I feel myself stand but the motion is so fast that I become dizzy. I am lighter. It’s an odd sensation. I must have hit my head pretty badly.
“Mum, what happened to me?”
“It’s okay, just follow me, come on,” she said, I see her face turn, her hair is longer. Wait, her hair? That’s not my mum’s hair. She pulls me along the road. Her hair is catching the night breeze and it is flowing and long, golden, so golden….it makes me feel safe again. I have never seen that hair, in photos maybe but not this hair.
“Mum?” I say, turning my head to look behind me.
“Don’t look, come this way, come…….” She says as she turns and our eyes meet.
I take another sharp intake of the night air. She has my mother’s eyes but this is not my mother.
“Who are you?” I hear myself shout this.
“I am Anouk. Come, let’s go” she says as she pulls harder on my arm.
I feel the urge to look behind again. I move my weightless head and stop. Stillness, my stillness. My body lying on the concrete. A police car with a dent on the bonnet, lights still flashing. A police officer clutching my floppy hand with tears in his eyes. He is crying for me. My breath catches in my throat. He is crying for me. I want to hold him back.
“Let’s go Adalyn”, she pulls again. I look forward and follow her flowing golden locks.
To be continued.
Until next time,