24th March

Just Go

The tiny bus shelter had a pungent, animal smell, tolerable only if you took shallow breaths. Usually Todd waited outside, but the snow-laden wind was bitter, and the bus was not due for ten minutes. Numbed already by the walk from the farm, he went in.

There was a small, glassless window, through which you could watch for the bus. On the outer side of this stood a man, hunched, the collar of his thin jacket turned up.

‘Aye,’ Todd said.

The man barely nodded. Todd did not recognise him from any of the nearby cottages.

‘Mair bloody snaw,’ the man said. The ferocity loaded onto those three words was impressive. Todd wondered what he’d sound like if he had a grudge against anything more than the weather.

‘Well, ye ken whit they say, in like a lamb, oot like a lion.’

He was only trying to show solidarity but the reaction was as if he’d told a downright lie.

‘Who’s they when they’re at hame?’

‘Just folk,’ Todd said.

After a minute the man spoke again.

‘He’s haein a laugh at us, eh?’

Todd gave a non-committal grunt. If it was theology they were getting into, he wanted none of it.

Suddenly the man let out a shout. ‘Think winter’s over, dae ye? I’ll show ye, ya wee shites!’

Todd saw the bus coming. On time, thank God. He came out of the shelter and raised his hand. The man gave no sign of moving.

‘Here it is then,’ Todd said. The snow was heavier now, thick bursts whisk- ing in the wind like egg white.

The bus pulled up. Still the man didn’t move.

‘Are ye comin?’ Todd called above the engine’s din. ‘There’s no anither yin for an oor.’

The man scowled, a look of pure hatred.

Todd shook his head. ‘Suit yersel,’ he said, and stepped onto the bus. ‘Christ, it’s cauld oot there,’ he said.

‘Whit aboot yer pal?’ the driver asked.

The man was shaking his fist at the sky. Snow boiled around him. He seemed to be in the middle of his own personal storm.

‘Just go,’ Todd said, as if he had the authority. The door hissed shut.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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