I had been waiting at the bus stop for over thirty-five minutes, when it finally rattled into the layby at the side of the road.
I was cold - I was shivering with it. I ears weren't just numb anymore, they were aching ... no, stinging with cold. I felt like somebody was giving me thousands of pinpricks all over my body. My brain wasn't even functioning properly. The most I was able to discern were the four facts that then were clear to me:
1) It was fucking cold.
2) I fucking hated that bus driver (a sudden realization told me this was the same old man that would never believe me when I told him I was under sixteen. Whether I was lying or not, point was, he made me skint, therefore he was a prick).
3) This god damn bus that had eventually come, was indeed the 464. Was that my only fucking good point?
4) Each of my points contain various swearwords. I'm turning into a filthy mouthed, anti-social teenager. Fuck.
I stumbled onto the bus. Oh god, I felt as though my limbs melted right then. I closed my eyes as I stepped up in front of the driver and let out a long, cold breath. The miserable feeling that had momentarily seemed to have seized hold of my heart and made me lose the will to live also seemed to melt away, as well as the icicles I had for hair.
'Yes?' grumbled the old bus driver impatiently. I snapped open my eyes.
'Yes.' I smiled sarcastically. Oh my, now I was one of those dramatic, cocky teenagers, right? How could I avoid the stereotypes? There's a reason why we act this way! 'I would like aneighty to Hall Street.' I took a deep breath. 'Please.'
He eyed me for a long time. I nearly punched him in the eye. He was bald and pale. To be honest, he looked oddly like a thumb. Very much so, in fact. A pair of glasses sat on his flat nose and his face had that look of 'I hate all youths, they should die.' which is also strangely common among the elder generations of the community.
'How old are you?' he said. I really don't think there would have been much difference if he had said it like he did, or if he spat at me in the face.
'I'm cold.' I said, narrowing my eyes. Yes, I agree, if this was the first time I had met him, he would have had the right to hate me and even possibly wish me death, but this was not, and I was regularly rather pleasant to him. When he showed up on time, anyway.
'How old are you?' he repeated, blinking. He looked down on me. Again. Stupid thumb. Stupid thumb-look-alike bus driver.
'I'm fifteen.' I sighed. No, I'm sixteen, how old are you??
'When's your date of birth?' he said coldly. Like I needed a frosty atmosphere inside shelter as well as out.
'Surely you know it for memory, now?' I groaned, pulling my sleeves over my frozen hands. He just narrowed his eyes at me so I said quickly - before he chased me off his bus with a baseball bat - '4th June, '94.'
'Any proof?' He asked, predictably. Yep, he was carrying out the routine.
'Fine, I'll pay full.' I groaned. 'Though, you've seen me in my school uniform many times. You know I'm still a student. Your just being damn harsh.' I quickly counted out the coins that were warm in my hand from the long wait at the bus stop and dropped them into his and ripping my ticket from the machine and walking down the centre isle of the bus.
There were a few people on the bus. Quite a lot, considering the time of night. Being the second-to-last bus that night, it was usually scarcely occupied. Though, as expected, the few people thatwere on the bus all seemed to be coughing, sneezing, or burping very loudly in unison. Was it just my paranoia, or something? Did i really hate the bus this much? Was it my imagination, or did everybody look homeless?
Was I really stuck up? Did I look down on everybody like I thought thumb-guy did to me? For one, I call a bus driver (who I now bore a very serious personal vendetta against) who was probably just doing his job, a thumb. And second, I think everybody looks like a tramp.
Jesus, I'm a horrid person.
Everybody seems to stare at me as I climb on the bus, though I'm used to it. Not because people usually stare at me, but because everybody always stares at the person climbing on the bus. I do it a lot, most people do it. It's just what you do. You have to, really, to entertain yourself just a little and prevent yourself from killing yourself from the mixture of smells: bad breath crossed with the smell of very old people.
I sat down halfway along the bus, like usual, on the right. My favorite spot: just above the step so that I wasn't staring constantly into another's greasy head and also so that I had a better view of the streets outside. Not that it mattered now anyway, it was pitch dark outside and all you could see from looking through the windows was a reflection of the interior of the bus.
I sat down and made myself comfortable as the bus jotted on.Brum, brum, brum.
Well, no, more like boom, boom, boom, squeak, boom.
Oh dear, and so boredom hits.
I start to consider getting out my ipod, but I change my mind. It was at the bottom of a very full bag, and effort was a virtue I did not, at present, possess. The bus crawled to a halt at the next bus stop. Ooh, I was at the start of a loooong journey. One that would, at normal speed, take just under an hour.
Ok, so the bus stops. On climb two men I could vaguely see through the left windows. One small and round, like a potato. Now I think about it, he did rather look like the potato man ...
And another man, tall and thin. The potato man wore a tracksuit which was really rather atrocious. I felt like wolf-whistling, just because it would have made him happy. I mean, he obviously considered himself as a bit of a bad-ass. Who was his idol, I wondered? 2-pac?
The boy with him, tall and thin, had a rather strange look about him. He wasn't bad looking, I suppose, that wasn't it. He wore normal clothes. A pair of dark trousers, a polo-shirt and a brown coat, though there was something about his expression ... something a little different.
He walked a little strangely, too, as he followed his ... perhaps friend? up the bus towards the very back. He limped a little. Swung his right leg a little too much with each step. He had blonde hair and thick, dark eye-brows.
I frowned and watched him for a while. He was oblivious. He sat and talked to his friend, and soon it became clear.
He shouted to his friend about the cost of the bus ticket. He didn't shout in an angry way. He didn't sound the least bit aggravated. He was simply conversing, though loud enough for the whole bus to hear.
He said that it had gone up drastically recently. He said that it was because of the Credit Crunch and because the government was trying to make more money from the buses, or something vaguely similar. He said they should put the price down, instead, so that more people used the bus. So that less people drove and therefore it would cut down the carbon footprint. He also said that if more people travelled via the bus to work or school, perhaps they would make more of an effort to keep it looking better.
I was probably the only person on the bus who actually listened to the one-manned conversation, let alone understood the phrase 'carbon footprint'. He talked strangely, making each syllable sound a little strange on his tongue. He moved his chin a little to the side each time he finished a sentence. A slight jerk of his head. His eyes dodged about the bus as though he was learning everything about it. His eyes caught mine a couple of times, but he didn't stop to stare, his eyes continued to bounce about the place, always finding somewhere knew to fall.
I suddenly felt guilty for mentally making fun of his friend. I really am an awful person. I was right.
I looked around at everybody else on the bus.
A woman sat two rows in front of me. A large woman with dark hair combed back tightly into a low pony-tail. She had many clips in her hair though there was no need; it was sleek and smooth, not a hair escaped the band in her hair. She wore large golden earrings and didn't seem to move a muscle. During the whole journey, I didn't see her face.
A man on the left side of the bus, near the front, was leaning his head against the window, though he was facing the right windows. He had an odd, lop-sided expression on his face. Suddenly he grinned to himself, showing off crooked teeth. He slapped away something in the air next to him and he chuckled loudly. I continued to stare in commiseration.
And for the first time I noticed the largest occupants of the bus. Perhaps the reason why the bus had first looked so full.
One family, consisting of a presumable mother and a father, both young, no older than twenty-something, with five children.
Two, girls, were clearly twins. Identically pretty, identically blonde, identically curly-haired, identically around four years old apiece. After these two, the family then consisted of a boy a little older than them, a red haired girl a little younger than them, and a baby boy in a pram beside them.
I stared for a moment in disbelief. Twenty-something ... say twenty-five ... just under a decade older than me. Five kids. Five.