Nocturne – On the night bus – 13

The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round and I’m stretching out the rock the pram handle, but there’s nothing there, so round and round the garden, like a teddy bear, one step, two step and I look down, expect to see his baby fat hands , wrists so edible you just want to sink your teeth in, but it’s all wrong, this hand is old, wrinkled, the knuckles are ugly, not like my Christophers’ hand, nothing at all like his hands.
Rock around the bus tonight, rock, rock, rock the baby.
Eddie loves the dancing, every Saturday night at the Palais, he knows all the moves, throws me over his shoulder and I’m as light as a butterfly and my shoes are red, my mother sniffs, says good girls don’t wear red shoes, but I love them and I look down to admire them and my feet are cold but the things you wear on your feet, sometimes brown, have laces, Eddies’ are shiny, pointy, those things, the things with buckes, they’re not there.
My feet are cold.

And where’s Eddie, when’s he going to come, if we don’t hurry, we’ll miss the bus, miss the first dance, miss that man, what was his name, people used to cut up cinema seats when they heard him, what’s his name.

My dad says that Eddie is no good, won’t amount to anything, but he doesn’t see us dancing, me like a butter fly in my shiny red shoes.

My mum says only bad girls wear red shoes, but there’s a baby, my Christoper, was I a bad girl, is that why Eddies’ not coming.

I’m really cold, but I’m waiting for the bus, waiting for the bus to take us to the Palais, waiting for Eddie.

I went to school and they said wait, so I sat with my hands folded in my lap and I’m sitting like that now, no-body can say that I’m a bad girl, see I’m not even wearing my red shoes.

I have to be careful, they say that Eddies’s not here, they must think I’m daft, like Eddie would ever leave me, leave his butterfly girl.

When you make a picnic, you need to pack enough sandwiches for the men, the men need to eat, keep their strength and I make tea, strong and sweet and pour it into the thermos and we walk down the beach and I feel the sand on my toes, but I don’t know where we’re going and I’m scared and I want my mummy.

I’m thirsty, want a cup of tea, you have to keep on at them, else they forget, forget to make a cup of tea and I say
“I want a cup of tea, I want a cup of tea” and the girl, the one with the glasses, she says
“But you’ve just had one”
They lie.

I wish the bus would come, I keep looking for it, looking for the lights.
I don’t know where the rest of the crowd is, we used to go to the Palais, every Saturday night and Eddie knew all the moves and I was his butterfly girl.

I keep looking for my baby, my Christopher, I know they’ve hidden him and I keep looking, but they’re clever, they’ve made my legs old, tired and I can’t walk far and when I look at these hands, these old hands and they scare me and I shout
“What have you done with my hands?” and someone always tells me to hush

Hush a bye baby on the treetops, when the bough breaks the baby will fall.

I see the lights of the bus now and I think to myself
“Well, you’re in for the high jump, Eddie my lad, standing me up on a Saturday night” and I swish my skirt, 6 layers of net, but it doesn’t feel right and it’s not my lovely red felt skirt with the black poodles.
Someone has stolen it, put me in this old nightie and I want to cry and I want my Eddie to come, but the bus is here and I’m going dancing.

“Speak up” said Mrs Green, “speak up girl, don’t mumble”
So, I get on the bus and I smile my best smile and I say, as clear as you like
“Single to the Palais”, but he doesn’t seem to hear me, the man driving the bus and I try again
“Single to the Palais, I’m meeting me Eddie, I’m his butterfly girl”

And his face is cross, the man on the bus, a cross man.
We must feed the men enough says my mum or they get cross and his mouth is moving, but I don’t understand and I’m cold and I wish my Eddie would come, but I’m a good girl and he can’t see my red shoes, so he doesn’t know what kind of girl I am.

This must be the wrong bus, not going to the Palais at all.

I need to sit at the bus stop, my hands folded in my lap and wait for my Eddie and listen to the swish of my 6 net petticoats.

We’re going dancing at the Palais, me and my Eddie, I’m waiting on the bus, the right bus and then we’ll dance, me and my Eddie and I’ll be his butterfly girl.


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

2 responses to “Nocturne – On the night bus – 13

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