3 June 2014
The bus rattled as it pulled up across from the station. Jean pulled herself up from her seat and clung onto the poles as she made her way to the door. Thanking the driver she stepped off carefully, grateful to have her feet on solid ground again. Another old woman followed her off the bus and stood next to her. “That journey dinnae get any easier, does it Anne?” “Naw Jean, it doesn’t. Still, it’s no so bad when you come home with winnings from the bingo. Gets you lighter on your feet.” The two women walked on together past the shopping centre, their steps speeding up as they settled into a rhythm. The weather was nice for an early June evening, the heat of the day had somewhat remained as clouds had began closing in. What had been a few white fluffy wisps during the day had joined together and solidified, covering most of the purple-blue sky in a layer of cotton wool. The burgeoning moon was still visible however, not yet fully contrasted against the dark backdrop of the night but rising and visible enough to indicate that night had begun.
After reaching Howart Street the two women parted, Jean promising to phone when she got home. It was light enough that the streetlights weren’t on, but Jean still felt uneasy as she walked alone in the semi-darkness. There was an eerie stillness on the streets which contradicted the relative warmth of the sky an d the wider world. She could hear children’s excited playful yells coming from somewhere. Heavy male laughter came from a pub nearby, backed by muffled music. As she headed towards the park however Jean was mostly alone, save for one young boy with a mass of curly black hair sticking out from his hoodie who ran across the road in front of her. She shook her head at the apparent hurry he was in. Jean didn’t notice as she walked home, but save for the bus she had left she was even alone on the road – no cars or other buses had passed her.
The stillness of Govan remained for the rest of Jean’s journey home. Even reaching her street she expected some movement, either from traffic or people. Silence. Or rather, the closest you can get to silence in a built-up area, where nothing moves and nothing seems to make noise leaving only a background hum, as if emanating from the buildings and the pavements with years of memories and sounds past that are unstoppable, unceasing. Jean felt as if her steps were echoing throughout the night as she walked.
Once she was home and had phoned Anne reassure her she was safe Jean made a cup of tea and sat in front of her window. She liked to sit and watch the street, a habit she had picked up when her sons were young and played outside which had remained long since they had grown up and left home. She settled in her armchair, a deep flowery thing that engulfed anyone who sat in it. For hours she sat unmoving, watching the street and remembering how busy it would get, even at this time. She would sit and watch as her boys played, she could name all the other children that were out at the same time as well.
Now, however, nothing. One or two cars dominated the night with the sound of them approaching then carrying straight on, away. Even with the windows closed they still sounded loud to Jean on the second floor. A few people walked past in a hurry – Jean thought she saw the boy in the tracksuit that had barged into her a few days ago. She thought of how shocked she had been when he just walked away from her with barely a glance back, then she realised she didn’t know who the boy was. She had lived in Govan her whole life, she would have seen the boy on the streets, even if she didn’t know the names of people she would know them by sight, and it always felt like everyone knew her.
Feeling a chill starting to come from the windows along with a reluctance to fall asleep in her chair again, Jean got up around half past ten. It was fully dark outside now. There was no movement on the streets. With a sigh Jean pulled the curtains to before heading off to bed. From outside the view of her window was one of the few still with light in it, a frame of yellow desperately trying to creep round the edges of the curtains. When the light went out the street, the building was dark, as an old woman went to sleep thinking of a time when things were different.