(Bus Stories #2)
BY BEATRICE EKWA EKOKO
Hamilton is foggy in the afternoon; mist hangs like scraps of rags above the people who are waiting for a late bus. A mother and her daughter approach the stop. The daughter is absorbed in her doll. Barbie doll.
“You will look just like her,” her mother has told her so. “And on your wedding day you’ll wear a dress like this one; white as snow.”
The mother is pinched and shrunken and her blond hair is lifeless at the sides of her young, ravaged face.She lowers her grocery bags and fumbles in her handbag (her hand is heavily bandaged). She withdraws two candy bars, unwraps one and without a glance at her child, passes it to her. She slowly unwraps the second one and sits herself on the bench to eat and gaze unseeingly at the cars driving by on King Street. The little girl finishes hers and throws the wrapper on the ground. She floats her doll in the air; the white dress spreads out, the veil is flapping. “She is an angel. She is in heaven and she looks down on me.”
Another child is watching her; she is younger and she giggles as she reaches to touch the doll and the girl sweeps the doll over the younger child’s hand and arms and head and shoulders.
“She loves you,” she tells the younger girl, and the child holds out her little arms. The older girl places the doll in her hands for a few seconds. Sensing this is a gesture is bound to lead to a struggle, she quickly retrieves it.
“Have it,” the younger child calls up and the older girl raises the prized possession up, up above her.
“She’s mine,” she tells her coolly.
“She doesn’t want to share any more.” The younger girl is called back by her mother.
The older child continues her game and her mother rummages in her bag and brings out cigarettes and a can of pop. She has smiled briefly at their interchange but now returns to her thoughts. A bus is coming. People crowd towards the stop. But the mother seems to have changed her mind. Has she forgotten something? Wrong stop? Loaded on both side with the groceries she heads in the opposite direction, her daughter running to keep up with her, blonde head bobbing up and down, her arm raised as she floats the doll along, the veil, the gown, white against the darkening afternoon.
Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko is a Hamilton based writer. While she has been engaged throughout her life in various forms of writing, she is excited to be venturing into the world of fiction. Beatrice is a regular contributor to thespec.com and ParentsCanada Magazine. Follow her on twitter @BeatriceEkoko.