Who Are You?

Entry by: EmmaCLP

5th December 2014
Who am I?
In my head I am a drunk, a mother who worries about her children, a lonely woman who gazes out across an unforgiving sea.
To the people on the bus I am an old lady with an over-stuffed suitcase, a tenuous grip on reality and the smell of alcohol on her breath. They look at me and quickly look away again, not wanting to offer me a seat, not wanting to be involved. They are too caught up in busy lives, too fearful of my greyness, my crumpled face and my dirty, wrinkled clothes.
The bus slowly makes its way down Kingsway, past city workers spilling out of bars, past windows festooned with clashing Christmas lights, past cyclists taking their lives in their hands to rush home to loved ones.
As we approach the elegant curve of Aldwych the bus stops in its tracks. An arrogant driver in a sleek, black Mercedes cuts in front of the rush-hour traffic and the other passengers lean in, like skiers trying to avoid plunging down a snowy ravine. My body is too stiff and unyielding to react in time. I make a desperate grab for my suitcase, lose my balance and stumble face down across the floor of the bus.
For a second the other passengers stop reading their evening papers, stop gazing out of the window with empty minds. They turn and stare at me instead – a tangle of ancient limbs spreadeagled before them like a still from a film.
Finally a young woman in a neat, dark suit and pointy shoes steps forward.
"You're bleeding," she says and offers me a pristine white tissue.
Suddenly I know who I am. I'm an old lady with an over-stuffed suitcase, a tenuous grip on reality, the smell of alcohol on her breath and blood smeared across her face.
"Yes," I say.
I pick up my suitcase and shuffle towards the front. It's time to get off the bus.