Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A Little Old Lady

I may condense this into prose sometime, not really sure which is better.

This is inspired by someone who gets on my bus... apologies if she's reading this...

A little old lady, frail and tottering, in her nineties, hurried down the hill without a walking stick or a frame. The bus roared down the hill in front of her, but her serene expression did not falter. The bus stopped for a while at the station anyway; the bus had been running early only due to the driver’s rushing: his wife was due to give birth. He checked his phone, still no news. He prepared the bus to continue its journey and opened the drafty doors for the waiting passengers to flood in. Among them was the little old lady, being brushed and shoved in all the commotion, but still her calm expression remained. She boarded the bus and purchased the fare, taking a long look at the driver, studying his face. As she drank in his emotion her face furrowed slightly. Before taking her ticket, the lady patted the driver on the arm and said, with reassuring tone: ‘All will turn out fine, I’m sure.’ The driver stared astounded at the doddering lady, and his face relaxed into a smile for the first time in weeks. That night, he met his new daughter. Mother and baby are both doing well.

Turning to find a seat, the lady saw that all were taken, save one next to a school boy. She politely asked him to move his bag from the seat, and immediately apologised as she saw reams of paper spread over his knees that were instantly disorganised by her approach. She perched next him and smiled at him, but he had already bowed his head back into his work. The little old lady balanced her handbag on her knees and took out a small, thin book, and began to read. While studying the tiny print and the wafer thin sheaves, she peered over at the boy’s work. He was hurriedly combing over an exam paper, making occasional scrawlings in his messy hand. His teacher had marked the paper in red, and on the top of the paper stood an overbearing ‘F’ followed by a rather curt ‘See me!’ Her heart sunk for the boy, but she remained concealed and buried her thoughts in her book. A few stops later, the boy politely asked to get off. He looked decidedly dejected and with a sigh, moved past the lady. Just before he walked away, the lady caught him gently on the arm, and said: ‘I’m sure everything will turn out as it should.’ She smiled at him as if he were her grandchild. He returned her smile, and for the first time in months a huge weight was lifted from his shoulders. He felt as if someone actually cared about him, and he entered his final exams with that lady’s reassurance in mind. He is now a highly respected lecturer at a major university.

The lady stayed on the bus for the rest of its journey, and got off in the town in which it terminated. She strolled the street for the first part of the morning, neither complaining about the bitter wind or wanting to take the weight off her feet. She gave a £50 note to every person in strife she saw, or even those who needed like they needed a little helping hand. She had given nearly all of her money by mid-morning, and only had a few coins left in her bag. She saw a young woman sat alone on a bench, staring vacantly into the air in front of her. The lady went over and sat next the woman. After no reaction from the woman, she asked politely how her day was going. After little thought, the woman spilled her worries into the open air: ‘My husband is petitioning for a divorce, leaving me with three small children and another on the way. I’ve been fired by my boss for being late from doing the school run, and my mother has been taken into hospital with multiple strokes. My brother has a major drink problem; I lie wide awake at night, scared that he will come for me and my children in one of his drunken rages.’  She sighs and sags deeper into the bench. After letting the atmosphere hang for a moment, the little old lady persuaded the woman to go with her to the cafĂ©. They chatted about the woman’s issues in life and the old lady was able to pass on some of her life’s experiences. The woman felt enlightened and more at peace with her consciousness. The little old lady used the remaining of her money to settle the bill. After calling her boss and explaining her situation, the woman returned home and was able to pull in enough favours from her community to keep working and spend time with her children. She is now settled with a loving, new husband and successful career.

That night, the little old lady passed away in her sleep. Her neighbour found her with a peaceful and kindly expression on her pale face. She died knowing that her small life on earth benefitted many people, and she hoped that one day, they would help someone who needed it just as much as they did.

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