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.
Anita Goveas is British-Asian, based in London, and fueled by strong coffee and paneer jalfrezi. She was first published in the 2016 London Short Story Prize anthology, most recently in Flashback Fiction, Mojave Heart review, The Brown Orient, formercactus and Spelk.