today is not the day to die

today is not the day to die...

today is not the day to die…

i boarded the 15.01hr #43 from Leven to Glenrothes and took a seat, on the upper deck, by an open window.  it was a beautiful sunny day.

two young girls, in summer shorts, joined me upstairs and sat right at the front, close together with their Conversed feet up against the panel in front of them.  the blonde haired girl, with thick-set bones, took out her mp3 player and skipped through some tunes before settling for an irritatingly catchy Taylor Swift song.  meanwhile, the fawn-like brunette haired girl took out a pocket mirror and a little pot of lip balm.  i caught her reflection, pouting, as she smeared the pink goo over her lips with a chewed glitter nail-polished finger.  the two girls, clearly ‘best friends forever’, held hands and sang along with Taylor Swift:

“I remember when we broke up the first time
Saying, “This is it, I’ve had enough,” ’cause like
We hadn’t seen each other in a month
When you said you needed space. (What?)
Then you come around again and say
“Baby, I miss you and I swear I’m gonna change, trust me.”
Remember how that lasted for a day?
I say, “I hate you,” we break up, you call me, “I love you.”

Ooh, we called it off again last night
But ooh, this time I’m telling you, I’m telling you

We are never ever ever getting back together,
We are never ever ever getting back together,
You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me
But we are never ever ever ever getting back together

Like, ever… “


i smiled and remembered a time of such innocence.  a time when boys were a hideous enigma. the girls, as if reading my mind, turned around and smiled at me as they put on their heart-shaped sunglasses.  ‘too cute!’ i thought, and giggled with them.

i listened as their ten year old voices sang of love, loss, breaking up and ‘make up’ sex.

the bus stopped in Windygates and an elderly man embarked.  he hirpled upstairs and sat opposite me, by the other open window.

“it’s a lovely day!” he said, as he sat down, tipping his hat to me.  “it certainly is!” i replied, smiling. everyone was happy. it felt like summer.

the bus continued on its path through the countryside and i gazed out the window at the patterned fabric of surrounding fields contrasting vividly against the blue, cloudless sky.  it really was a beautiful day.  and certainly NOT the day to die.

the bus slowed down as it approached a junction at a main road.  what happened next happened so quickly that, in retrospect, seemed all too hazy and yet, ironically, a suspension of time and a sense of peace and calm.  all i could hear was Taylor Swift’s voice – sweetly irrelevant – above blaring car horns, roared expletives and screams of abject terror.

the bus pulled out in front of a speeding Audi.  i watched, as if in a dream, as the Audi driver flashed his lights repeatedly and blasted his horn, the front of the car dipping from having to brake with such ferocity.  the bus swerved and jostled about the road – almost losing balance. passengers were roaring, yelping and screaming in fear.  the elderly gent’s trilby hat rolled down the aisle. i looked over at him, he was righting himself in his seat.  a glancing blow from branches of a nearby tree scraped the upper deck. what sound.  the little girls were curled up in the front, holding each other close.  their singing had stopped.

all i could hear was Taylor Swift’s voice; the dissonant blare of the Audi and the driver’s voice as he roared at the bus driver…

“lovely as you are” said the old man “i don’t want to die with you”, as i handed his hat to him.

“yeah…” i said “today is not the day to die…”


(c) Kat McDonald

image (c) Tuomas Pekkarinen


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