Taken & developed from my story 'The Number 93'.
The 93 bus roars back to life at the terminus. The new driver watches the old man, full of sorrow, shuffle to his seat. The old man is Jack; he’s 86 and tired of life. He lost his wife, Brenda, last week. They’d finished their nightly
, creaked into bed and fell asleep. Brenda never woke up and felt cold and rigid in the morning. He has spent the last three days on the 93, on and off, going around and around and around. Cocoa
The April sun, of yesterday, has miraculously turned to snow. He thinks, perhaps, he feels better that the weather’s turned cold and bitter. It seemed distasteful, the happy egg yolk sun, he’d wanted to rip it out of the sky and make it rain. How did the sun dare shine when Brenda could no longer feel its warmth?
He watched the passengers, come and go, life continued all around him. It was vaguely comforting. Life didn’t carry on at home, even the clock had stopped ticking that morning, when he realised Brenda wasn’t getting up to toast the bread while he made the tea. He hadn’t returned to the bed, nor changed the sheets. He threw the old tartan blanket over his legs and waited for sleep to find him, as he settled into the armchair. He shed a tear as the light broke through the gap in the curtains and for another empty day, he was alive, without her.
The neighbours had suggested he find himself a nice hobby. He looked at them blankly. He had lost the love of his life, they’d been together 67 years, no amount of fishing or stamp collecting would make him feel better about that.
When had he last told Brenda that he loved her? His heart lurched, he gripped the seat in front of him in a panic, as the bus cruelly ignored the young female in pink Wellington boots and raced by the park and the library. No, panic over, he definitely had less than two weeks ago. What day would it have been? They’d been watching the television and she’d been chuckling at a comic. He’d started laughing too, despite having missed the joke, because that’s what her laugh had made him do. Before they knew it, they were practically in tears as they egged each other on, their sides hurting, sighs that kept it going.
‘I love you, you funny old bugger’, he’d said, and they’d collapsed in hilarity again. Tears prickle at his eyes now and threaten to spill over on to his weathered cheeks.
He pressed the bell, waiting for the bus to stop before standing, he didn’t have Brenda to hold on to now, and he thought he’d probably fall. He’d stop for some flowers, lilies were her favourite, her mother had been called Lily. He’d go and see her, have a little chat, pretend he could still hear her funny old croaky cackle.