The people at the bus-stop have wrapped themselves up against the weather. It’s not raining now, but they all know it might at any time. Wool caps, shiny macs, welly boots all form a barricade against the slate-grey clouds, so dense they look like sheets of concrete. They’ve built up their distrust in layers, a callous developed from being let down so often. A woman with curly black hair is so buried in her quilted coat only her tip-tilted nose peeps out.
A dark-haired woman in a light turquoise jacket and chinos stands near a thigh-high boy who’s holding a crimson scooter. She looks ready for summer, he’s got all the warm clothes on. Bobble hat, thick coat, fluffy gloves. His boots don’t match, one a Spiderman welly, one plain beige suede. She’s trying to get him to put his scooter down.
“Leave me alone”, he says so loudly that in-their-own-heads Londoners turn round. “You said daddy was coming.”
Her mouth droops, her body stills from humming-bird vibrations to icicle-frozen. She watches a laughing couple push a pramful of giggling girl until they disappear into the park.
A watery sunbeam filters through, strikes a leafless tree, bronzing fruitless branches. The people at the bus-stop burrow deeper into their self-made bunkers. They know what a false hope looks like.