Sunday, 7 March 2010

Write of Passage Number Eight

She's about four or five, fly-away fine blond hair, dressed in a pink snowsuit and black boots. Maybe that's why she's restless; it's a relatively warm day for early March here in Hades and there's no snow on the sidewalks. She keeps climbing on to the bus seat and trying to stand up. Her mother, in increasing exasperation, hauls her down and threatens to take her to the front seats, "where the babies go". The little girl is undaunted, talking non-stop as her mother holds firmly on to her with one hand and checks her cell phone with the other. Big brother is in the very back, keeping his distance and dignity at age six or so, pretending not to be with them. (I remember doing the same while traveling with my mother and sister, staring fixedly out the window and cringing in embarrassment.)

A young man moves from his seat further front and sits across from us. He's wearing a red clown nose and a GG mustache grows from the corners of his mouth. There are juggling balls almost spilling from the pocket of his old fashioned patterned coat and a half-eaten banana in his hand. I'd seen him juggling at our bus stop, but we were busy talking with our neighbour and I'd barely noticed him. The little girl stops fidgeting and leans forward in interest:

"Are you a clown?"
GG Mustache puts his hand to his ear and says gently with just a touch of a Québecois accent, "I can only hear you if you talk in a soft voice."
The little girl leans further forward and asks quietly: "Are you a clown?"
"I don't know. Do I look like one?"
"You've got a red nose. Is your real nose behind it?"
"Do you know anyone with two noses? How would I blow them both? Would you like to borrow one of my juggling balls?"

She takes it and fingers it absent-mindedly, still intent on his nose. She's careful to keep her voice low. The mischievous, self-absorbed smile is replaced with a genuine engaged expression and she is relaxed. She's grown up two years, right in front of our eyes: "I think your real nose is behind the red nose."
"Do you think so?"
"Can I see your real nose?"
"Well, I don't know about that..."
The girl's mother is preparing to get up, and the little girl passes the juggling ball back before he can ask for it.
"What do you say?" prompts the mum.
The little girl looks a little confused, then breathes "Thank-you," as big brother, still holding himself aloof, follows his family off the bus.
Monsieur GG Mustache has quickly slid his hand across his face. When she looks back to see him smiling goodbye under his real nose, she glows and waves.


chrissie_allen said...

Beautiful Persephone, truly uplifting on a chilly Monday! Warms the heart through and through; thank you very much for bringing a joyful tear to my eye.
Wonderful post.

Persephone said...

Bless you for saying so, my dear!