i board the 14:55 bus to Glenrothes, a ‘new’ yet stale Fife town where the town centres around the backsides of shop units in classic 70s town planning style, from Kirkcaldy – another Fife town now falling into economic hardship and disrepair.
i take a seat near the front by the window.
the bus sets off its course. it’s a double-decker. i remember, as a child, going on bus journeys with my mother and feeling giddy and giggly at the prospect of travelling on a double-decker, sitting up top at the front and wriggling in my seat as the views unfolded before me. i remember it being a real adventure for me, and my “imaginary” friend.
Mrs Toe was her name. she was a BIG lady. she would shuffle alongside me. she had a big full-moon face that beamed smiles every time i saw her. nobody ever saw her, except me. she was my friend, and mine alone.
i think in hindsight, my poor mother must have been filled with a mild sense of dread when venturing out in public with me and Mrs Toe.
“don’t sit there!! Mrs Toe’s sitting there!” i would squeal when either my mother or a fellow passenger went to take the seat next to me.
but Mrs Toe didn’t travel with us all the time. she would just turn up. and she would often “appear” for dinner.
my mother would have to set an extra place and put an extra plate of food out. it’s no wonder my father was fat!
i don’t recall many conversations with her, not even an excerpt. which is sad because we were friends for years.
i was four years old when i last saw Mrs Toe. She was shuffling down Arbroath high street. i recognised her by her heaving gait and corpulent form straining beneath her tightly-buttoned navy blue overcoat; her tan cloche hat and peeping grey pincurls; and her shoes. Mrs Toe always wore mens’ brown brogues.
i pointed her out to my mother and father. naturally, many questions were asked. i remember my mother, craning her neck around, to get a good look at her as we drove past.
i never saw Mrs Toe again.
i often find myself searching for her when i am on bus journeys, such as today.
i hope that maybe one day… one day, i will catch a glimpse.
(c) Kat McDonald 2015