This is a little bit of Flash Fiction and features one of my favourite characters, Sylvia, who may one day feature in a novel!!
Sylvia stood in the pouring rain as she waited for the no 17 bus.
Typical, she thinks, hanging out washing is a sure way to guarantee a change in the weather.
She rummages in her bag for her plastic hat which she pulls down over her already frizzing hair. She is well aware she looks most unattractive in this granny style hat but equally feels that no-one sees her anymore anyway.
Her mind tells her that she is a boring woman, colourless and uninteresting.
She smiles sadly as she thinks about how she matches the day, which began bright and sunny and descended into something grey and damp. Not for the first time recently she wonders about how she has ended up here, as a boring, lonely and invisible housewife.
Squinting out from under her ridiculous hat, she sees her bus just rounding the corner at the end of the road. It is only then, that she realises she is no longer alone at the bus-stop. A young man, dark and dressed in black is standing quite close to her. He looks foreign, perhaps Italian or Spanish. She realises that she is staring at him and that he is smiling in her direction. She looks around, convinced that he must be making contact with someone else who has joined them. But no, his smile is all for her.
She attempts a casual, friendly smile back but is so unused to making such informal connections with people that she thinks her face has most likely arranged itself into something more akin to a grimace.
The bus has now pulled up and with a whoosh the doors open. The young man in black stands aside, beaming at Sylvia and with an expansive hand gesture says “after you Signora” in beautifully Italianised English. “Oh, thank you” she mumbles as she steps up onto the bus, flashing her commuter card at the driver.
As she takes her seat, she realises that she is actually still smiling and gazing out the window she sees that the clouds have broken and the sun is breaking through a patch of blue sky. I am smiling in my heart she thinks a real smile. She glances over to the Italian and sees that he is smiling too. Oh my God, was that a wink? Realising that she is still wearing the granny hat, she pulls it off and stuffs it back into her bag, making a mental note to bin it once she gets home. Running her fingers through her hair, she catches the Italian’s eye again. There it is again – a definite wink.
Two stops later, Sylvia hops off the bus and hears herself humming as she makes her way home in bright sunshine. She is still smiling
James Tate Prize
1 day ago