OK so this probably isn’t exactly the type of stories you tell or read at bedtime, but as I usually write just before going to bed, it’s bedtime story for me. And I should probably mention that this story is not finished yet, because, well, I’m waiting to see how it wants to work out itself. AND it is also pretty much the first piece of fiction that I ever wrote in English. I hope you enjoy reading it, though. Perhaps you’ve got a feeling of how it’s going to end?
a short story
Elly was just sitting in the bus, waiting for it to take her back to the City. She actually liked taking the bus, it gave her time to dream. She didn’t particularly like when anyone was sitting next to her, but as more and more grey people were climbing through the door, Elly realised she probably wouldn’t be lucky that day. Another grey man climbed in. Elly glanced at him briefly, he looked straight into her eyes. Elly quickly shifted her gaze and looked at the bag on her knees but didn’t really see it – the sight of the man, it seemed, was temporarily fixed in her retina. Not really seeing what she was doing, Elly found her headphones, but before she could put them on and hide in her music, the grey man came up to the empty seat next to Elly.
Elly‘s eyes, unstopped by her will, turned to the man next to her. His grey coat which dominated from afar, seemed to have lost its power. He was a handsome man, thought Elly, and she didn’t think that often. He seemed a little out of place on the bus. Elly was out of place, too, only nobody ever noticed. Although, possibly, this man did. But he didn’t say anything. It was as though he was a little afraid to speak to her.
The bus trudged a little and started moving. Elly immersed herself in music and turned to the window – she liked to watch the little town being left behind. There was something sad about the way the old houses flanking crumbling streets went past the bus so silently. When Elly was a child and watched her parents abandon her in this town, she told her Grandmother that she could hear the houses and the streets cry and scream. Her Grandmother, the intelligent and kind woman that she was, just hugged the little girl and asked:
‘Why are the houses screaming?’
‘Because they want to get away so desperately. They’ve been standing here for ages, people only leaving them behind.’
Elly forgot that the town cried. Her grandmother was dead and her parents, old from travelling, lived there now. Elly couldn’t remember why, but going back to the City leaving them behind always felt good in an angry sort of way. She smiled, and the man accidentally caught a glimpse and a pang of how beautiful Elly was. He turned his head quickly away, as though a little ashamed, thinking how much out of place that smile was in a bus full of grey gloomy people.
The yellow bus full of grey people swayed through green countryside, Elly deep in her music and her dreams. She felt the warm arm of the grey man against her side, and without realising it, she was leaning at him a little. Mr Grey seemed afraid to move, it was as though he was fighting some thought. Finally, it seemed the thought won, determined he reached into his inside pocket, his elbow stabbing Elly‘s side.
Elly just smiled back. Mr Grey‘s shy yet fixed look was getting a little uncomfortable to both. He turned back towards the seat towards him without taking anything from his pocket. He leaned forwards, resting his head in his hands and closed his eyes, and Elly was suddenly reminded of her Grandmother and how she used to pray, at those particularly hard times, without a prayer book or a rosary. When she was little, Elly thought that when her Grandmother sat like that with her eyes closed to this world, God was actually sitting in front of her, talking and comforting her, because after such a prayer Grandmother always felt so much better. Elly tried it herself a couple of times, but God didn’t come to sit with her.
‘Why does God come and sit with you when you pray, but not with me?’
‘Perhaps you don‘t need Him as much as I do. He‘s got a lot to do so He can‘t come sit with someone whose need isn‘t terrible.’
‘But why is your need more terrible than mine?’
‘Because I don‘t have anyone looking after me, but Him, and you’ve still got me, ‘ Grandmother answered and kissed Elly goodnight.’
Listening to music when there was a person praying next to her seemed wrong, so Elly turned it off and put it away. She felt awkward around praying people, she had forgotten how to tell God anything. Elly found herself thinking if she should say something to Mr Grey, not to disturb him, but just… because. Her heart answered the head‘s question pumping yes-yes-yes-yes much faster and harder than was necessary, it jumped and got stuck in the throat, and Elly couldn’t say anything. The man was still praying anyway. The corners of his eyes wrinkled in concentration. After a few more moments, however, he opened his eyes, but there was no sign if relief on his face.
‘Perhaps your need isn’t as terrible as you think, ‘ muttered Elly, as he sank back into his seat.
‘Beg your pardon?’ Mr Grey turned to Elly.
‘I… It just seemed to me … that God didn’t come to comfort you, and my Grandmother used to say that your need probably isn’t terrible enough.’
Mr Grey just stared.
‘I’m sorry. Don‘t mind me, ‘ Elly turned to the window suddenly regretting putting away the headphones.
‘No no, ‘ Elly felt his hand on her arm. ‘ I just… didn’t know what to say… You must be right.’
Mr Grey smiled. He felt strange doing it, he hadn’t smiled like that in a very long time.
‘There must be someone else that can help and comfort you. So God thinks He doesn’t have to come to you yet.’
—To Be Continued.