Them look at me, but them don’t see me . On the nightbus 2.


Them look at me, but them don’t see me. The thought floats, tired, late night thinking but then I catch myself, catch my english and say it to myself, properly, carefully, the way I was taught in Kingston so many years ago.

Those people look at me, but they don’t really notice me and I smile inside at the crisp constonants and clipped vowels, even 4 in the morning, 12 hour shift is no reason to let things slip.

It’s the last night bus, almost day time, daylight in the summer, even in winter a hint of the dawn to come.

The next bus blurs the edges, challeneges the labels, early shift workers, last of the party beasts, tutus and boiler suits, day-glo swirls and cardigans over saris, fuck me shoes and knock off nike

But not this bus, not the 4am bus, this is the fell out the club, fell down the road, fell, again, onto the bus.

Skins slick with sweat, bodies cooling, make up sliding the last few inches to fall off the face, one false eye lash nestling on a thin white shoulder blade, a trail of glitter up the steps and my late night/early morning mind is drifting…..

1969- 9 yrs old, taken to a pantomime by a woman I had just learnt to call Auntie, walking through Brixton. Body still shocked by the savage cold, I burrowed deep in my coat and waited, every day, for someeone, somewhere to come get me.

But the pantomime,
“Do you believe in faries” and the glitter, the fairy dust, sprinkling, covering my skin, the colours brighter, sharper against my skin, better.

And the lost boys, lost without their mothers and I want to ask “Are there lost girls too?”, but instead I keep some of the gliter in my red shiny purse and check it every day until one day there isnt any left, but by then the cold is less surprising and I have learnt the skipping and the clapping games and I am less and less sure that some-one, some-where will come get me.

4.20 – three stops till I get off, home by 5am – shoes off, that precious 45 minutes before I start again.

I look around the bus and see why the Lost boys floated to the top of the late night reverie.
Its the animal hats, a tiger, bear, dog, a green frog.
My eyes half closed, fighting the temptation of just a few minutes sleep, have blurred the images, opened up a half lost memory – the Lost Boys – animal skins and furry hats, singing and dancing…..flying.

4.30 – Head nods hard against the window, jolts me back into here & now – the Lost boys [ and girls] on the bus are mostly silent, not singing or dancing now, some lean against eachother like sleepy toddlers.

4.45 – My stop and as i get off the bus, up the road, keys in hand, but too tired to feel scared and besides I reason, even the local gangsters, the children I used to see walking to school every day, even they need to sleep sometime.

I cannot lose the Lost boys, haunting that space between wakefulness and sleep, a space i call my own and then I am in the door and I call up to my son, hear his feet on the floor and I know we will keep the fiction today, that he has been here all night and that he will go to college later and that I will say nothing and neither will he.

The Lost Boys.

About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

One response to “Them look at me, but them don’t see me . On the nightbus 2.

  • Stephen Wright

    Too good, totally engaging, read it three times now – still bewitches. It just edges the first one into second place, and that’s no mean feat…

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