• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 04
Image by

Getting from there to here

They came when she was at the bus stop. Wheeling around her like flies. And she's thinking: Are they flies? Or are they hornets? Should she stand still or move? Should she run away? Will it just be an irritation, her skin prickling, her breath becoming stiff with silent anger or will it be worse. Far, far worse.

Her hand tightens on her bag strap, clinging on to the lifeline of what's hers. Her other hand is clenching in her pocket. A fist she would not dare to use. Slippery, already, with the fear response.

There are three, circling on those bikes that should be for children. Knees against handlebars, all in black. Their caps are pulled low over their eyes beneath hoods that reek of what she still calls cannabis.

When they start up with the name-calling she looks down at the puddles, tucking her chin further into her scarf. She's wearing trousers and an ordinary coat but if she could hide herself top to toe in black and disappear, she would. Invisibility is a super-power, sometimes.

The bus bumps into view and she flushes with relief. Stepping forward she almost clashes with one of the manboys who sneers 'Watch it!' before skimming round his back wheel, sending puddle water in an arc across her legs.

On the bus, she chooses a seat near the back and watches them ride away down an alley. All the way home, her damp trousers cling to her. An accusation or a reminder.