The driver glanced back at his passengers.

“All belted up. Ok, we're off.” he announced, and pulled out from the bus station.

Some passengers had already fallen asleep, not worrying about any stops as they were going the full journey. Others gazed out of the windows at the blackness outside. Some met each others eyes briefly, then looked away again. A couple sat holding hands contentedly.

A baby began to yell hungrily and the woman holding it shoved it under her baggy top to suckle.

The man opposite sighed and looked the other way, not wanting to embarrass her.

The baby spluttered a little and the woman seated behind smiled at her own 2 children. Their father was trying to amuse them by making little puppet characters from a handkerchief and his fingers. The boy laughed but the older girl looked bored. She took out an electronic game from her pocket and began to play it.

The bus roared through the darkness, headlights shining the way. Sometimes they went through lit streets, sometimes through landscapes hazy and menacing in the mysterious strange outdoors. Tree branches could be seen against light from lamps or from the sky. Clouds moved their shadows across the heavens and stars could be seen between them. Sunlight reflected from the moon to give an eerie glow.

“The party was great, wasn't it” murmured the young man to his girlfriend. “Well... I think it was better near the end” said the young lady. “By the time we left there was hardly anyone there though. It was good to go when we did. I'm glad we weren't there right at the beginning. Timing can make such a huge difference to those things eh.”

“I'm glad we're on this journey now” said the young man to her. “I'm glad you're with me again and not that rotten... yeah I know.. but you arrived with him and boy was I glad to see his back. Now I can have you all to myself. It's gonna be so good when we arrive! I'm really looking forward to having you there with my family.!”

The bus stopped by a park entrance and an old couple got on together, as well as a priest and a young family dressed in traditional African clothing. The family didn't look very happy and didn't look at anyone, just sat themselves at the back of the bus together. The priest nodded to people as he went past. And the old couple seemed to be unaware of anyone except for themselves and were chatting together excitedly.

The young girl looked interestedly at the African family as they went past. She liked the bright coloured clothing they were wearing, even though she thought it was a bit silly for a man to wear a dress. She noticed their faces and wondered why they looked so miserable. The man stared stonily at nothing but the woman noticed the girl watching her and smiled sadly. The girl smiled back, shyly and the children poked their mum and pointed at the girl. The woman shook her head at them and the girl wondered if that really was a tear trickling slowly down her cheek.

The children leaned one each side on their mum's shoulders and fell asleep. They were content that they were journeying to something better than they had left.

The girl got back on with her pocket game. “Shooting up aliens, great! Yeah and now the boss!” Click click click on the buttons and then “F***” Her mum gave her a sharp look of annoyance. “Well you know you can forget about using that language young lady. Just wait until we get off this bus.”

“I don't want to get off” complained the girl. “I liked it where we were. I hate this move! And I hate you!” Her voice had risen and the African woman looked amazed hearing a child talk to her parent this way. She looked disapproving and then caressed the heads of her own 2 sleeping children. She knew they would never talk to her or their father that way.

The girl's mother looked resigned, however. She knew that this journey was a good one and that they would all be much happier once they had settled back home. Especially when they could be with the grandparents again. They had been missed greatly. Discipline would reign once more and chaos would disappear.

The bus stopped again, this time by a hospital entrance and the mother with the baby disembarked. A few people got on the bus, some were in bandages or looking unwell and others may have been visiting or staff.

As they settled into various seats, the driver again glanced back at the now half-full bus to make sure everyone was safe and comfortable. When everyone had done up their seat belts he pulled back out into the long road ahead.

One of the new passengers noticed the priest and did a double take, then got up and moved across to sit by him. “Do you remember...?” she asked, and the priest looked then said “oh yes, well it's nice to see you looking so much better than when I saw you in London. That was a nasty night. How have you been?” “Oh you know” replied the woman “surviving, but it hasn't been good. That's why I decided to take this trip. I want to see if I can find... I mean... I know it will be better once I get there again.”

“I agree” said the priest. “I know it can be hard to hang on. In fact that's also why I am on this journey. I can remember it being so much better when...” and they carried on chatting about their shared remembrances of better times.

The bus roared on through the darkness. Various scenery occasionally seen flashing past. It seemed like the world was passing by, while inside the bus the lights showed the various passengers passing the time in their seats, waiting to arrive.

And then here they were. The bus pulled into the old bus station.

“All out” announced the driver. “We're back in 2019. Anyone wanting to go to 2018, be here same day last year.”

January 01, 2020 19:46

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Kara O
18:56 Jan 08, 2020

The end of your story threw me in a loop. A novel take on time and the concept of the prompt.


Pamela Saunders
21:34 Jan 08, 2020

Thank you for telling me that - it is precisely what I aimed to do so it pleases me that it worked :)


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