252 smiles and counting…


the sun shone down with aplomb, burning through the haze and brightened my day. sunny days makes for a sunny disposition. even the dogs were smiling.

i boarded the #39 from North Glenrothes to the Bus Station. a short and familiar route. this is the bus i took to visit my mother; a revisit to my childhood days; a visit to a place i can still call home. a place where i can still lay down my head and sleep in my old bed and read teenage diaries and, more latterly, do laundry. the smell of sun-dried newly washed clothes was just one thing that made my heart sing today. that and hearing my mother’s laughter ring out at my lame cartoon sketches drawn on her fridge magnet notepad.

it was a brief and uneventful trip, circumnavigating all my old childhood haunts; awakening long-forgotten moments in school playgrounds and swing parks.

i arrived at Glenrothes Bus Station and immediately hop on a bus to Kirkcaldy. i was on my way to East Wemyss, to have dinner with my lover, his son and mother. i had a fleeting vision of their smiling faces. a vision so sweet and vivid that i was bathed in warmth and i caught my grinning reflection in a shop window.

i boarded the X37, their smiling faces very much at the forefront of my mind, and sat in the upper deck.

casual observation highlighted i was the only female passenger; three men, of three generations, are sat behind me.

at the rear of the bus, a boy of 14 years old sat with his father, talking frankly to him about the silent danger of chlamydia and how he got it from the boy’s mother before he was conceived: “nothing a dose ay antibiotics cannae cure but if yur gonnae dip yer wick in the frothy brine, son, ah suggest ye use johnnies, ken?” i snigger to myself and look out the window. “that Shelley lassie may look clean but ye dae ken… she could be a dirty wee bitch, like yur maw” he laughs. the boy is blushing from head to toe. in disbelief of the candour of such a conversation, i tried to contain my laughter. my chuckle muscle ached.

an elderly man in his seventies, was seated opposite me amid a pile of rubbish; empty crisp bags, a crumpled Coke can and a copy of the Metro; he looked at me and sniggered. he too had clearly heard the sex education class at the rear. he leaned over to me and said, in a thick Irish brogue “Jesus… bloody Protestants… shouldn’t be sexing it up at that age. when i was a lad i was pony daft!” i smiled to the man, who clearly did not care if the father and son heard his harsh comments… “Maisy, she was 16 hands high and the love of my life!”

i shook my head, smiling, and looked out the window. we had arrived at Kirkcaldy Bus Station.

i alighted the bus, saying “goodbye” to the crazy old Irishman and headed round to the far side of the bus terminal to catch my third bus, the X8 to Leven.

i stood in a queue, behind a kissing couple. thoughts of my lover’s smile and embraces flooded my mind. he has 251 different smiles (that i’ve seen so far). i could see his beautiful smile, and his long flaxen hair falling soft from beneath his red beanie hat. this too made my heart sing.

the X8 promised to stop in East Wemyss: “i only stop at the bank?” said the driver. “that’s perfect!” i replied, as that was where my lover would be waiting for me.

i boarded the bus and sat at the front. the bus sped through the town, out through the picturesque historic village of Dysart and, before i could gather my thoughts or note any observations, i noticed we were exiting Coaltown of Wemyss. i texted my lover to say ‘i am 5 mins away’.

the sign said ‘East Wemyss – please drive slowly’, my cue to gather my belongings, press the stop button and make my way down the aisle. i did so, flashes of my love in his red hat vivid in my mind’s eye.

the bus drove past the aforementioned stop: “oh what?!” i said to the driver, who clearly was aware of me standing by him. but he paid no heed. two stops further down the line, in the other side of town, he finally stopped. no apology, no rhyme nor reason.

“have you been smoking crack?” i said to the driver, who had a cobweb tattooed on his face and neck, as i alighted the bus. i was seeing red. livid.

i quickly walked back to the bus stop i was supposed to be deposited at. and yes, he was there. i saw my love, in his red beanie hat, smiling to me.

252 smiles – and counting.

(c) Kat McDonald 2014

written with Robert very much in mind.


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