Bus

Here is Tuffin taking a red bus on a foggy Saturday at 5:00pm in December.

At 5:25 pm, at the railway station everyone gets off leaving the top deck empty. All the windows are steamed up and most are smeared by hands and cuffs and gloves and handkerchiefs but the wide window at the front is untouched. Tuffin moves to the front. He can just about see his misty face reflected in the glass.

•He has 20 minutes.

He removes a pencil from his top jacket pocket. The sharp end is no good but the rubber end is perfect. He traces his face through the mist onto the glass. He draws his mouth and nose and ears and hat. With his nails he forms lashes and with his fingers he makes eye-holes so that the dark outside looks in.

•He sits back.

In places water drips, making the picture weep. This amuses him, but his face floats in an expanse of nothing – and that doesn’t, so he draws the background as fast as he can.

•He is wet and steamy and hot.

He draws a jungle and monkeys and toucans and tall trees and everything. Fresh mist from his breath feeds the grasses that grow taller and stronger and creatures swing and climb and crawl and fly about. From his face a lion with a straggly mane springs. It peers back through the drips at the bus. He works until every bit of the canvas is filled with his touch.

•At 5.45 pm he stands and rings the bell.

Here is his stop. Here are the village shops lit with Christmas. Here is the lion glowing green, the toucans glowing gold, the grasses glowing blue, the monkeys glowing red and here is Tuffin’s face, pink and wet and glowing and stepping off the bus and walking home.