A couple of weeks ago (and then again on Friday) I mentioned that two sci-fi shorts were coming your way. At the time I wasn’t planning on this one but the other idea died down in the meantime and this one popped up instead! Thank you, AlNobody for giving me this idea withour realising it 😉 (it’s that ‘lady on the bus’ memory I told you about a little while ago…) If you’ve never been to his blog you need to go. Now. It’s that good 🙂
There’ll be two more posts, one tomorrow and one on Thursday. I’m undecided so far whether I’ll do a fourth one as well, so brace yourselves for just those three until I figure it out 😉
This post as well as all others like it will be categorised with my writing prompts, so if you ever lose track of one you’ll be able to find it in there 🙂
There she was again.
I balled my hands into nervous fists as I watched the lady who had just entered the bus, one stop after mine. She sat down on the other end nearer to the driver with her back turned to me, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that she was watching me. Somehow she could see me without needing to see me, and it caused icy chills to run down my spine.
I knew her. I couldn’t remember how but she was so familiar I would have walked up to her and asked how she was doing, if her presence hadn’t put me on edge.
She was shorter than me, had short brown hair and one of those fashionable handbags I didn’t care about. Somehow that was worth noting although I had no idea why. I didn’t understand why she was getting a school bus to go wherever she needed to go. Other buses were running – other, less noisy ones, less busy ones – yet she always got onto mine. Our eyes had only met a couple of times, and each time it had sent nervous shivers through my insides.
I had no idea where we had met before. She wasn’t a teacher at my school and she definitely wasn’t another student, but I didn’t know any other people besides my parents’ friends and colleagues. She wasn’t one of their friends, and I knew so few of their work colleagues that I was certain she wasn’t one of those, either. Unless she no longer worked with my Mum or Dad? Sometimes, over the summer, my Dad invited his old colleagues over for a drink. They always remembered me from when I was little but I never remembered them. Maybe she was one of those friends, who knew me but who I barely recognised.
Just another one of Dad’s old acquaintances.
But she wasn’t. I didn’t know how I knew, but I was certain that she didn’t know my parents.
As uneasy as she made me feel, she was fascinating. There was something different about her, something strange that none of the other people around me possessed, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. It was unlike anything I had ever witnessed, something strangely exotic even though she looked like the most plain, most normal person you could imagine.
I got off the bus, not taking my eyes of her once. She turned around in the last moment before my feet hit the ground outside, and our eyes met. Her gaze was indifferent, telling me she wasn’t bothered about me in the slightest, yet something beyond her eyes made me shiver and pick up my pace.
Then the bus left and the feeling went with it.
This was the fifteenth time I had seen her this term. She had suddenly shown up at the beginning of year nine, and had used my bus occasionally since then. There was no regularity to it, no pattern to her schedule. Sometimes I wouldn’t see her for weeks at a time and something in me always relaxed when that happened. Like her not being near me was a good thing.
And then, one day, she’d be back with the same intent gaze which didn’t have to look at me to see me, and the same uneasy feeling.
We had never talked. Never exchanged a word. But every time our paths met I wanted to ask her who she was, why she knew me and why I knew her. Every time I saw her I wanted to walk away, pretend the meeting hadn’t happened. Pretend the exchange of unspoken information only she understood hadn’t taken place.
But I couldn’t forget her and soon each day I didn’t see her left me feeling as uneasy as the days I did see her. The nervous tingling only lasted while we shared a bus. The moment I left the feeling died, and the world seemed normal again.
Only I knew better. I had always been paranoid, but this was more than just a hunch. She was on this bus because of me, and I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to know why.
All writing belongs to the author, Sarina Langer
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