the wrong bus

(c) Ewan Rollo, Valdeference Photography

don’t be so quick to judge…

we were promised a heatwave.

the reality was far less exciting. just another cold and grey day. i was in a foul mood.

today i, grudgingly, paid £3.30 for a Glenrothes Day Rider for the privilege of a ‘scenic’ journey home.
today i boarded the wrong bus.

instead of the direct #39, i boarded the #39B which terminated at Glenrothes Bus Station. still, it was warm.

i boarded the bus and headed up the aisle. there were three other passengers on-board. an albino boy, with shifty pink eyes, and a teenage boy with his female friend. i sat by the window, in a seat across the aisle from the albino boy, and gazed out the window. the view outside was of little inspiration. dull and grey sky, dull and grey little houses, dull and grey expressionless people.


the albino boy looked over at me, his pink eyes flitted and fluttered and looked away again. i watched as his pink hand swept across his white shorn head, his fingernails were bitten down to the bone. they looked raw. my gaze returned to the window. everything stillborn. everything still grey. everything still dead.


‘still… life could be worse’ i thought to myself. my mood was black.

the bus looped back around Macedonia. Macedonia. a precinct of Glenrothes renowned for its danger and unfriendly inhabitants; renowned for its many violent and drug-related crime incidents – and the precinct where my elderly Mother resides and stubbornly refuses to move from: ergo, the precinct from where i boarded ‘the wrong bus’.

the bus ground to a halt and a group of eight disparate individuals boarded the bus and took to their seats.

the teenage boy, at the rear of the bus, began to talk to his friend about his recovery. his voice was loud; his speech, slow and slurred. her voice was barely audible. the inflection of his voice was like falling bombs. the bus was busy but his voice was louder than bombs. his words seemed to crash around me as we exited Macedonia, the local war zone, i heard him mention cancer. this boy was at war. the frontline.

i felt my heart grow heavy as i heard him speak of his shrinking brain tumor.  and i watched in horror as the other passengers gawped around them, casting their disapproving stone cold stares of judgement… “junkie” i heard one woman say.

as i got up to exit the bus, i could not bite my tongue any longer. it was beginning to hurt. i spoke up:

“haven’t you been listening?  he is recovering from brain cancer, you rancid people…” i said “don’t be so quick to judge!”

(c) Kat McDonald

image (c) Ewan Rollo


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