We got the same bus everyday. I didn’t pay much attention to her at first, only noticing her heels clack clack clacking as she walked up the aisle. I’d look up and inwardly tut, and then I’d bury my head back in whatever book I happened to be reading. She’d sit in the same seat every day…..even if someone was already sitting there. And that was how my fascination with her began.
On this particular day the bus was more crowded than usual, but I had been fortunate enough to find a seat. The bus stopped and started at all the usual places, and people got on and off at all the usual places. The book I was reading wasn’t of much interest to me, and I became distracted by a commotion a few rows in front of me.
‘Just get up will you. Just get up. I sit there everyday. Everyone knows it. And if you knew who I was then you wouldn’t have sat there. You wouldn’t have dared.’ She paused. ‘Or maybe you would, because I’m sure you’d be my stalker. We people all have one you know.’
There was no flicker of irony in her statement, just pure commitment to what she had said. Most people looked over at her, and most turned away desperately not wanting to catch her eye. I did the same, but strained my hearing in an attempt to catch everything that was being said.
‘I forgive you for sitting there, but you really should be careful, very very careful. I need my privacy just as much as you do. Just because I’m out there in the public eye doesn’t mean that I’m available to you when ever you want. Oh no no, it doesn’t work like that. We all need our privacy.’
After an initially vociferous attempt to hold on to his seat, the guy rose realising that he was completely out of his depth. She lowered herself into the seat, adjusted her scarf and reached into her bag pulling out a collection of celebrity magazines.
‘You see, there’s my friend Katie. We spend a lot of time together. Oh Kerry, what on earth are you up to now? She’s always up to something that one. So she decided on that dress even though I’d told her not to wear it; I won’t waste my breath next time.’
She wasn’t talking to anyone in particular, but the altercation with the man in her seat had opened up the floodgates and we were now being given access to some strange world that she was imagining herself to be in. She was wittering on about clothes, and facials, and her favourite restaurants, which were always bursting with paparazzi. She was fond of a cosmopolitan, and NEVER touched chocolate. The seats around her were emptying out, but she was oblivious to it. I stayed where I was, fascinated, but feeling sort of sorry for her. I felt that although I didn’t know her, she had been part of my daily life for a long while now. I contemplated talking to her, but chickened out. I wasn’t really sure how to approach her.
And then, just as I’d made my mind up to say something, she just got up, walked to the front of the bus, thanked the driver as she always did, and exited through the front doors.
The bus was awash with suppressed laughs, the raising of eyebrows, a few tuts here and there, and a variety of comments which suggested that people were interested in her, me being one of them.
Our fellow bus rider had become exactly what she said she was: a celebrity, and I looked forward to the next instalment in the morning.