I stumble out of the door, keys still in hand, my bag bashing against my ribs, as I half run, half walk to the bus stop. I’m forced to stop in my tracks – the main road is full of early morning commuters, so I frantically search for a space in between the sea of cars, as my bus is due. I see the bus rounding the corner. I make a break for it, running recklessly, hoping that I don’t get knocked over for my stupidity.The driver sees me belting down the pavement and takes pity on me. I offer him a grateful smile as I scramble around my purse for my fare. Damn. I only have two pounds. I grudgingly pay an extra 70 pence, and head for a seat. I settle near the back and fit my earphones in, then turn on my music and begin my 30 minutes of peace. I look out the window as we pass the meadows play park, the swings swaying slightly in the breeze, patiently waiting for the afternoon; when the children come to play. The bus continues on, winding through street after street – the Lilly Pad flower shop catches my eye, the bright lettering contrasting with the white shop front . Its window spills with cheerful flower displays brightening the dull parade of shops. Every so often we lurch to a stop as more disgruntled passengers enter and leave the bus, avoiding eye contact at all costs and if possible having to sit next to each other. Next, a familiar face gets on, a young school girl with glasses and a rucksack on her way to school. She sits quietly near the front, anxious that she will miss her stop and be late for the first bell. Relief floods her face when she sees her stop, and she quickly presses the bell and readies herself to leave the bus – clearly she will be on time for school today. Off she gets and the journey continues, one that has quickly become solitary – no-one else gets the bus this far and reaches the end of the route. Alone, bar the bus driver, I enjoy my last few moments of peace, focusing on the music in my ears. All too soon the bus comes to a halt, my cue to leave. I heave my bag up on my shoulder, give a quick ‘thank you’ to the driver and make my way out to brave yet another day of university.
The day is done; time to go home. There is a chill in the air and the sky is dark, people huddle together under the shelter, patiently waiting for the bus. It appears soon enough and a great queue forms, as everyone is eager to get into the warmth. We pile on; almost all of the seats upstairs are taken by the time the bus pulls away. The air is filled with chatter – discussions of workloads and opinions on lectures dominate the conversation. The streets pass in a blur, the return drive always seems to be quicker. Every so often the bus lurches to a stop, where choruses of ‘goodbyes’ and the sound of bells punctuate the journey. Frequently, a shop window will catch someone’s eye, a dress shop, a fast food place, the Cameo cinema. These little observations add to the wealth of conversation, creating dinner invitations, weekend excursions and musings about where you would wear such beautiful outfits. Companions continue to leave, and the top deck gradually becomes emptier. Soon it is almost my stop, I press the bell and make my way down the treacherous steps whilst the bus is still moving – much to the amusement of others and myself. Finally it stops, and with a smile and a nod to the bus driver I step out into the cold. The streets are lined with students, and I wind my way in between them, eager to get home. Everyone has the same expression – pain at the wind buffeting their faces, and tiredness, the product of spending a long day at university. My feet pound on the pavement, I’m finally almost home. I pick up the pace as I walk through the dark secluded close, until I reach the street lights. Rounding the corner, I scramble for my keys, unlock the outer door, curse that the light is broken, put my key in the flat door and I am home. Finally.