MONDAY: The Return


Copyright is held by the author.

HE HAD waited for the bus until the rain stopped. The dazzling headlights and destination came into focus as it pulled up, with a conveyance of countenances, alongside him. He flashed his card at the remote driver and seated himself in one of the folding seats in the pram area. He didn’t care much for those seats as he was in full view of everyone’s line of sight. He tried to shut them out, intent on reading his book. He preferred to read on the bus in the morning when the passengers where still asleep, but on an evening, they were wide awake. A man could be heard muttering to himself next to the empty seat on the other side. People chatted amongst themselves for everyone to hear. Others broadcast their phone calls all over the bus. He tried to drown out the incessant babble with concentration. He’d been wanting to re-read The Idiot for some time, as it had been sometime since he first read it that he felt he hadn’t really read it at all.

The bus bounced over every bump, slumped off curbs as it took corners, which caused the lights to flicker off for a spell before nestling back on. The more he immersed himself into his book the further the noise receded into the background, that the bus grew quieter and quieter as he supposed more and more people had gotten off. The bus was silent, with not so much as a cough or splutter. The perfect setting for reading. Though his mind could not allow things to  be perfect and presented him with a sense that something wasn’t quite right, choosing to ignore it until he had gotten to an appropriate place to stop at the end of the chapter. When he looked up, he was struck by the realisation that the bus was still full, and everyone, everyone, were all looking directly at him. Engulfed by a sea of faces, their eyes boring into him. He tried to ignore it by returning to his book, but the page became fogged, blurring the words. He looked up and caught the man who’d been muttering to himself looking straight towards him, as if he were addressing him. He tried to make out what he was muttering, which came across like “They’re all bastards, bastards the lot of ‘em.” repeatedly. Feeling unnerved he searched out the window, but they had become mirrors with the gaining darkness, which only doubled the amount of eyes looking upon him. Finally, he settled his gaze upon the CCTV that was tracking through the cameras, reminding him of the shots of empty rooms at the end of Halloween. He didn’t realize at first that he was the only person to be seen on the CCTV. The seats were empty. It must be a recording, he thought. No! It wasn’t a recording, because he could see himself on the seat on the bus looking back at him. He looked around, and all the passengers were still staring at him. He looked back at the CCTV and still, he could only see himself. His heart felt tight as a fist as his stomach lifted to his leaden chest.

The bus slowed down to a stop and a man in his mid to late thirties wearing a brown tweed jacket boarded, flashing his pass, before sitting in the empty seat opposite. The man pulled up his coat collar and looked straight at him. Then he noticed all the passengers were no longer staring at him but were staring at the man in the tweed jacket. This relieved him, and the tightness in his heart, until he looked again at the CCTV. He could no longer see himself. He could only see the man in front of him.


Image of Anthony Ward wearing sunglasses and a straw hat.

Anthony derives most of his inspiration from listening to classical music and jazz, since it is often the mood which invokes him. He has recently been published in, Jerry Jazz Musician, Literary Yard, and Shot Glass Journal, amongst others.

1 comment
  1. Intriguingly surreal, right down to reading The Idiot on the bus.

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