Turning down the road. The man thought.
“Who am I?”
A voice replied.
“Graham. The destroyer of dreams.”
The man hurried his steps. The voice followed singing snippets of prayers. Laughing. Taunting. Cooing. Graham stopped. Turned and whistled. A dog emerged from the bush. Tilted its head in a curious way. Whistled in return and sunk back into its leafy nest.
“Why did I whistle?”
“To make sure you were still there.”
He rounded the corner. Saw her and bolted.
“Who was that?”
“Graham. The Destroyer of dreams.”
“Who are you?
Silence. She picked up her bag and continued heading for home. Passing along the railings she let her knuckles skip lightly across the bars. Her hand became a little woman. Leaping from log to log across the Amazon, brushing her toes along crocodile snouts. Her thoughts turned to Graham.
“What did he see?”
“He saw you.”
“Who are you?”
13nóm shone the sign. Wrapping an arm around the pole he sunk a free hand down his pants. Cradling his balls he whistled at the girl heading home, rattling her knuckles against the railings pretending it were a little woman exploring the Amazon.
“I wonder if that’s what she’s thinking.”
He asked her.
“Is it a little woman?”
She hurried her step.
“Fuck you anyways love.”
“You’re right. It was.”
He snapped his head to the right. Nothing. Left. Something.
Graham hurtled down the street. Crashing through the air. Dodging the drops jumping from the roofs above. Slipping on the greased footpath he cursed his soles and careered towards home.
“There’s nobody there’ cooed the voice. It bobbed softly above him.
He slowed his step. Running. Jogging. Pacing. Halt. He fumbled in his pocket. Found the scrap of paper and called the number on it.
The amber light blinked and the bus pulled in. Removing his cradling hand from his pants he stepped onto the bus. Paid the fare. Wondered why the bus driver didn’t smile and pulled himself up the stairs. Settled behind the stairs he took stock of his fellow late night commuters. Two young lads huddled over their phones and a middle aged lady with a flower in her hair.
“I like your flower miss. It’s nice.”
“Shut the fuck up mate” rang a voice from the back.
“No. I just like it. More people should wear flowers in their hair.”
The woman stood up and moved shakily down the aisle. She stopped before him. Took the flower from behind her ear and handed it to him.
“You’re right. Here, wear it.”
She smiled and left.
Fingering the flower between thumb and forefinger he slotted it neatly behind his ear. The lads down the back ignored them, happy comparing their Tinder matches.
She passed the garage. Circled back and bought a pint of milk. She winked at the security camera as she left. She wondered if anyone saw her. Unlatching the gate she tiptoed up the path in her particular way. Red brick. Yellow brick. Red. Yellow. Red. Red. Grey. Slipping the key into the lock, she moaned. Laughing she pushed through into the hallway. She flicked on the light and the room burst forward to greet her.
She heard her pacing in the room above. The low hum of muffled serious voices.
Entering the kitchen she dropped her coat on the table, took down two mugs and flicked the kettle on. Leaving the water to boil she called up the hallway.
“Home Babe! Weird fucking day.”
“Who are you calling?”
Graham said nothing.
“Is it her?”
He turned his shoulder to the omnipresent voice.
“Hahahahaha it is.”
Graham drowned out the cackle by biting the inside of his cheek. The numb sting circled the back of his neck, tickling his crown. The laughter stopped as a salty wave lapped against his tongue. He tongued the wound as the dial tone droned in his ear.
A bus roared by.
The flower fell forward on his ear, disrupted by the tremble of the journey. He replaced it and returned to his reflected gaze in the window at the front of the bus.
“Funny that window hasn’t fogged up.”
A raindrop tore through his translucent face.
He whistled an unknown tune and watched the cave of his mouth warp to manipulate the air in the reflection.
“Ah here lad. The fuck are you at?”
“I know that. But on a bus? I mean for fuck’s sake.”
He turned to face the lads, faces no longer illuminated by the white wash of their phones. He let the whistle die. Revived it. Killed it. Revived it once more then allowed it die for good.
“Why do you spose the window hasn’t fogged up lads?”
Eyes fixed on the seat between them he pointed to the fogless window at the front of the bus.
“Where’s the condensation? Weird isn’t it?”
She didn’t reply. She called again.
Her voice droned through the floor. Speaking rapidly. Angry. Then calming. She climbed the stairs gingerly, the darkness of the landing swallowing her.
“Who is she talking to?”
“I don’t know.”
“You asked a question.”
“Not to you.”
“Who am I?”
“I don’t know.”
“Neither do I.”
“Then fuck off.”
She sat at the top of the stairs. And fell asleep.
Graham got home. No one was there.
He got off the bus. Fingered the flower behind his ear and strolled away.