Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Switching (Write of passage number forty-one)

The bus is trundling along Charlotte Street when I first glimpse the unicycle.

It's a tall black one with a huge wheel, and the young man atop of it is also tall and all in black, from his baseball cap to his sneakers. His earphones are blue - a worrying addition given the speed he's going, darting back and forth from sidewalk to gutter. He catches up and passes us at each bus stop, and as the traffic slows on Laurier Avenue East, his lead on us grows.

We're surrounded by the after-school crowd from l'ecole secondaire publique De La Salle, so the chatter is also darting seamlessly from French to English and back again, although the accents in both languages remain steadfastly Central Canadian Anglophone, much like the civil servant conversations I often overhear earlier in the day.

It seems that every year, no matter which school, francophone or anglophone, an awkward boy with an oversized backpack plops in with the gang of gabblers, then switches seats, further and further forward, away from his schoolmates.

If I peer through the front window of the bus, I can still make out the stick-like silhouette of the unicyclist, darting perilously back and forth between the line of cars on the street and the pedestrians on the sidewalk -- blocks ahead of us and getting smaller all the time.

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