A very short story.
I huddled inside my fashionable coat. It wasn’t designed for bus stops.
Andrew had cursed that morning as ice he scraped from the windscreen dusted his fingers. He’d sworn again when the car coughed and failed to start.
A bus pulled up, but it wasn’t one that would take me to work. A pallid young woman alighted, her brown hair straggling from a knitted hat. She came to sit on the bench where she fiddled with her bag and checked her watch and shivered, although her coat looked warmer than mine.
It was Andrew’s first day back at work after the accident.
If he’d parked the courtesy car in the garage last night, it would have started. He blamed the car, of course. He’d taken against it from the first: probably because it wasn’t red.
I planned to wear red when we got married. Someday.
I hoped he wouldn’t get talked into working late tonight; I needed my car for Zumba. I took out my phone.
“Parky innit. Feels like snow.”
“It does, rather.” I smiled and continued texting.
I’d suggested that Andrew buy a smaller car with the insurance money – one I wouldn’t mind driving – but he’d convinced himself the Range Rover’s bulk had saved his life when a carload of teenagers speeding over a blind summit ploughed into the front of it.
“You been waiting long?”
“Ages.” I pocketed the phone. “It has to be the coldest day this year, and my partner’s got my car.”
“I in’t passed me test yet.” The voice wobbled. “I might not bother now.”
“It’s not cheap,” I said.
“My friend had an accident.”
I looked. Her face was as colourless as her voice.
“Is your friend alright?”
“I’m on my way to see her in hospital. She’s… she can’t move her legs.” She blinked. “Her boyfriend died.”
Now she’d started, the words spilled out.
“We was in the car behind. We nearly went into the back of them.”
“That must have been terrifying “
It can’t have been Andrew’s accident; he would have said if someone had died. “When was it?”
“We heard the crash before we saw it. This bloke pulled out in front of her.”
Andrew had been vague about the location: somewhere on his way home from work.
“Where did it happen?”
“On the Newton Road.”
So it can’t have been Andrew. “Was the other driver injured?”
I relaxed. Andrew had whiplash and bruising.
“He were moaning about his neck but he looked fine to me. His wife were in a right state though; the paramedics couldn’t calm her down.”
The girl stood. “That’s my bus.”
“Ah, his wife was with him then.”
“Wife or girlfriend – he called her darling. He were more bothered about his red Chelsea tractor though.”
The bus arrived. “Thanks for listening – it’s helped.” Her voice was steadier now.
“D-did you hear what she called him?”
The door opened. She stepped in and turned.
“Andy. She called him Andy. Same as me dad’s name.”
The door closed.