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The bus was late. Jessica stood cursing quietly as the rain pounded down on her head, having forgotten her umbrella that morning. She knew exactly what her mother would say.

“I told you the forecast was for rain! You never take your umbrella! You’ll catch your death of cold one of these days!”

She wondered idly if it was possible to catch your death of cold just from standing in the rain. She thought it unlikely, but hoped that the bus would hurry up all the same. It wasn’t the sort of thing that she really wanted to put to the test.

Finally, just when she could feel the rain starting to soak through to the inner layers of her clothing, she saw the bus heave into sight around the corner. She sighed with relief. Soon she would be home with a big fluffy towel, her cosy bathrobe to change into, and a big mug of hot chocolate to warm her up.

“Thank God,” she muttered.

The bus pulled up with the door right in front of her. Thank God for that too, she thought, at least it’s one of the nicer drivers today. She would swear that some of them took delight in pulling up way past the stop so you had to run to get to the door. Or worse, the ones that would only stop if you waved, even if it was blatantly obvious you were waiting for the bus and had just glanced away at the wrong moment, leaving you swearing and cursing in their wake as they drove by, ignoring you.

She showed her pass to the driver and looked around the bus. The windows were all misted up from the cold rain outside and the warm breath of all the passengers inside, and it was packed. There was only one seat left, near the front, next to an old chap who looked tired but friendly. She ought to stand, she thought, taking hold of the grab bar. She was soaking wet and it wouldn’t be nice to drench the seat a nice old man was already sitting on.

“You look worn out,” the old man said. “Why don’t you sit down?”

She smiled. “It’s okay,” she replied, indicating her waterlogged clothes. “I’m drenched through, I wouldn’t want to get the seat soaked.”

“Nonsense,” the old man said, patting the seat. “You look fine to me.”

Jessica sat down with a grateful little smile. As she did so she realised he was right, she wasn’t all that wet after all. It must have just felt worse when she was stood in the rain, she figured. Mind you, she’d still be soaked before she got home, she had almost ten minutes walk from the bus stop to her front door and in this downpour that would be enough to soak her right through to the skin. She prayed to God that it might ease up before then.

Jessica smiled at the man next to her. He looked kind of lonely, and she always felt sorry for lonely people. She decided to make conversation.

“Are you going far?”

He smiled at her. “Just trying to make my way home,” he replied.

She smiled and looked out of the window. “Me too. Looks like the weather’s against us.”

The man nodded. “It’s not so bad though. It’s good for the gardens and the farms.”

Jessica laughed. “And the ducks!”

The old man laughed too. “And the ducks. We mustn’t forget the ducks.” He wiped some of the condensation on the window away with one gloved hand. “Well, it looks like it’s clearing up a little now. Just in time for your stop.”

Jessica leaned over to look out of the window. He was right- not only were they at her stop already, but the rain was just stopping. Perhaps she wouldn’t get so wet after all.

“Wow, that’s lucky,” she said smiling at the old gentleman. “Maybe somebody’s listening to my prayers after all!”

“Maybe,” he said with a smile. “Goodbye, Jessica. Take care.”

She smiled and waved as she got off the bus, and she was half way home before she realised that she hadn’t told him her name.

© Kari Fay

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