Maternal (Tales of the Number 52 Bus)

NB: There’ll be no In For A Penny posts on days when I do “proper” ones. Found this bit of flash-fiction in the depths of my documents folder. I’m counting it as an unofficial addition to “Tales of the Number 52 Bus” because it’s based on a thing that happened in my first term of uni.

The little girl next to me is the spitting image of my baby sister back home. I watch her out of the corner of my eye, see the way her lower lip sticks out, the way her eyes crinkle at the corners as she cries, and suddenly miss home.

I snap right into maternal mode as the girl’s wailing hits a new pitch, digging around in my bag and producing a small cuddly bunny keyring. Her mother watches reproachfully as I make it do an odd, jerky little dance along the edge of her pram and wave one slightly tatty paw at her.  She sniffles, wiping her nose on her sleeve, and makes a grab for it with her pudgy fingers; I let her have it, her mother letting out a tut next to me as she presses the stop button.
“Now, Laura, it’s not nice to grab— I’m sorry,” she adds, shooting me an apologetic expression before she turns back to her daughter. “We’re getting off now, you need to give the lady her bunny back—“
“It’s fine,” I say, waving a hand vaguely and smiling. “You keep it.” Laura lets out a burbling laugh and cuddles the toy closer.  Her mother smiles at me gratefully.
“Isn’t that lovely? You say thank you to the nice lady,” she says, maneuvering the pram towards the door, and Laura blows me a smacking kiss.

I watch them get off the bus, and resolve to call home when I get back.


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