shadows

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Glenrothes Bus Station is a strange and strained place to be, alone, late at night. the waiting area was closed so i stood, alone, outside in the night. alone, with my shadow from the sodium light. alone until three new shadows appeared.

a man with a soiled face in a soiled track suit and a boozy breath appeared in the darkness, invading my personal space to read the bus timetable… i stepped back to accommodate his rudeness and swaying mass.

another man with no teeth appeared, kicking his crumpled and flagrantly discarded tin of budget lager. he stood with his hands in his pocket, puffing out his chest like a third-prize pigeon, and asked:

“Does any o’ these buses gang roond by the Mayflower chinkies?”

‘christ. that’s walking distance!’ i thought to myself.

“No got a clue, mate!” the swaying man said.

the toothless man turned to me…

“i don’t know… but it’s not far to walk…?” i offered.

“it’s no that a want a Chinkie” he said. “av bin invited tae a perty!”

i told him where to go. he left me alone. alone with the swaying drunk who kept belching and retching.

sadly, a third shadow appeared. this one smaller, and more frail than the others. a woman. a woman with a bottle of vodka and a handbag full of prescription drugs.

“am goin’ tae kill myself…” she told me.

“av goat nuthin’ left here. av tried afore… ”

i actively listened to her words, her thoughts. my mind had gone into a crazy spiral of potentially escalating situations.

i held her hand.

“nae cunt cares aboot me… ah’d be as well awa’ fae here awthegither!”

“ma daughter disnae come an’ see me… she disnae care…”

her mobile phone rang…

“speaking o’ which… hello! ah whit dae you care?” she said to the phone, and burst into tears.

unable to speak for racking sobs, she handed me the phone.

i spoke with her daughter, explaining i had met her mother and where we were.

“i am coming straight there. i will be there in two minutes. i am so very sorry- it’s not the first time she has done this…” the daughter informed me.

my bus came, and i had to board it. i told the driver of the situation and he exited the bus and headed for the drivers’ mess to inform the bus station supervisor of the situation. i explained help was on its way, that the woman’s daughter lived two minutes away and should be on the scene soon.

i held the woman’s hand, looked into her tired eyes and said:

“your daughter is coming for you… she will be here soon, don’t cry…”

she thanked me with a smile and kissed my hand.

her breath reeked of stale cigarette smoke and cheap vodka.

“have you taken any pills?” i asked.

“no… not yet. thank you, lass” she said, smiling through her tears as she fumbled and tried to roll yet another smoke. her fingers were brown, her eyes were brown.

i will never forget this night so long as i live.

i boarded my bus and sat by the window, so i could watch her for a few moments more… all i could see was my own tired, pale reflection.

count your blessings, as i counted mine.

so, lady, whoever you are… wherever you are… i hope you are safe. i hope you realise you are loved.

(c) Kat McDonald 2014

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