The Smiling Lady
CASSIDY: Ok, so there I was on the bus, 3-year-old daughter in tow, trying valiantly to unwrap a tube of Polos whilst said 3-year-old daughter glared at me like I was incredibly incompetent.
Polos finally unwrapped, I glanced out of the window as the bus came to a halt at a stop. A few old ladies boarded, chatting away, seeming to be having a laugh, but that wasn’t really what caught my attention. A hoody-clad oriental woman stood by the bus stop, grinning madly at me. At this moment, my daughter shoved the Polo tube under my nose, a silent demand for me to further unwrap it. I applied myself to the task and the bus pulled away from the stop, journey continuing.
The next time I looked up, I was once again faced with that mad grin and grey hoody, the lady had taken a seat across the aisle from me to my left. An elderly couple sat in front of her. Uncomfortable under the oriental woman’s sunny scrutiny, I averted my gaze. Suddenly, the elderly couple moved to sit in front of me and my daughter. I looked over at the smiling lady, and she was nodding her head, grinning wider and brighter, sunny and terrifying. I glanced at the elderly couple who seemed unconcerned. I was suddenly gripped with a desperate need to get off of the bus. My stop was not far but it felt like it was an age away. My stomach was doing a nervous jig, I concentrated my energies on looking nonchalant as the bus crawled towards my stop.
Finally I rang the bell and prepared to disembark. The lady stood up as I did, waving at me. My heartbeat accelerated. I grasped my daughter’s hand a little tighter. Shielding her with my body, I crab-walked down the aisle past the strange lady. Convinced she was right on my heels I hurried down the last few feet of the aisle finally stepping off of the bus into the glorious sunshine.
I heard the bus pull away, started walking, resisting the urge to look behind me. It was only when I crossed the road that I dared to glance back. The street was empty. But it took me a while to shake the feeling that I was being followed…
AMOS: Down by the river under a canopy of trees, the morning sky dark and miserable. I was on my way to run some errands, enjoying the walk as I always did, the miserable day not a deterrent in the slightest. A squirrel scuttled across the path, darting up the tree and pausing, inspecting me from its safe perch. I made a clicking sound, said ‘Hello’ as one does to cute animals, but it just looked at me. It must have sensed that I had no treats stuffed in my pockets to give it because it did not move. If it could speak the language of humans it would say ‘Er, I’m no fool, mate! No grub, no me coming down from this tree. Move along now!’
And so I carried on down the path by the river. Someone was in the distance, heading towards me. All I could make out was that this person wore grey and had black hair. As the person approached, a lady, I noted she was oriental in appearance and that she was wearing a grey hoody. What really caught me attention, however, was the rather exaggerated grin on her face. She seemed delighted to see me, as if we were dear old friends. Did i know this person? As I wondered that, she started to nod at me enthusiastically. Nope, I definitely didn’t know her. I would’ve remembered that grin. Her pace slowed as she got closer and I felt the urge to pick up my pace. Something inside me was telling me not to stop, call it instinct. I ducked my head, moving with more haste, never looking up. I hadn’t realised I’d been holding my breath until I drew in a gulp of air as I passed her. Goosebumps ran down my arms, my skin clammy. I ordered my head not to look back, but my head had other ideas. I looked back….
I was the only person on that path…
Amos and Cassidy are beginning to wonder if they see dead people…