Staff Shortlisted Entry
I took my favourite seat for the last time on the number 26. Upstairs, second row back, right-hand side. It gave me uninterrupted views over fences and hedges. Into the lives of families on my journey. I always got this seat – it was no one’s favourite, nondescript, there just for me.
I’ll miss the families glimpsed every day. I saw snapshots of marriages, new babies, funerals as life played out in front of me. The tell-tale signs of balloons and cards lined up on window ledges, L plates removed from family cars. I celebrated the highs and the lows as if they were my own.
They were all I had once Helen passed away 15 years ago. I catch the bus on my days off, just to get out of the empty house and see familiar faces. Not that they knew who I am, I’d never met them. I was just a voyeur on a bus.
Tucked into my leather bag at my feet was a leaving card and a bottle of whiskey from my colleagues. I could only read the first couple of messages before I had to put it away for another, less emotional time. I didn’t want to retire, but being a porter was a young man’s game and at 75 I certainly wasn’t that anymore. The retirement everyone said I should ‘relish’ and ‘put my feet up’ stretched out in front of me like a long, solitary road. Reaching out into the distance.