The Night Bus (Raspberry Upside-down Sponge)

We had potato salad for lunch the day I finally made up my mind to run away from home. We’d had yet another fight and the fact that all there was for me to eat was slimy potatoes and mayonnaise just tipped me over the edge. I pushed my chair out from the table and walked stiff with anger up to my room.

Everything I’d need was already in my bag so I grabbed it and my hoodie from behind the door. On second thoughts I turned, went to the desk and scribbled a quick note which read simply “This is it.”

She tried to say something to me from the kitchen but anything she said was drowned out by my slamming of the door.

It was November and the rain was bucketing down as I closed the garden gate for the last time. The rain still hadn’t let up at all by the time I reached the bus stop but I felt so liberated and joyful that I just stood there luxuriating in the feeling of having my clothes soaked through and the rain saturating my skin.

After about twenty minutes a bus pulled up and I came to enough to get on it. The driver asked me where I was headed and gave me 50p change from a twenty when I told him I was headed out.  I found two empty seats and collapsed into them, it was only Three PM but it felt much later with the November sun getting ready to go down to behind the clouds.

I must have drifted off for a little because the next thing I remember it was sunset and the clouds had finally lifted. I looked across the unfamiliar landscape as the shadows lengthened and the sun went down. Any tiredness I had felt was gone and I felt almost euphoric. The further we drove the more I felt like a new person. I sat with my chin on my knees and my arms around my legs and watched the towns as we passed through them and looking at the people who got on. The longer we went the stranger the places and the people.

We stopped at the bottom of the kind of drive that leads to a stately home to pick up two strange women, one in blue and white and one in black and green. They paid the bus driver in feathers and broken egg shells. As they passed by me I heard one say to the other “But Joy, how many secrets can you not tell?”

We stopped at a gas station to pick up two old women with loads of shopping bags and a young boy who was hiding three tiny kittens inside his jacket.

I felt more connected to these strange characters as we progressed along our journey; more and more like someone new than the person that I left behind when I left my home.

An old man with ivy growing in his beard, a woman holding a scarf full of stars.

You had to look closer and pay attention to notice the different ones.

A young man with feathers peeking out from under his shirt, a pretty young woman with lots of bags and boxes and a tail poking out under her skirt.

She sat down in the seat next to me. We sat there in silence for a while before she smiled and passed a box to me saying “Are you hungry? Try some of this.”

I opened the tin and took a slice of a gorgeous looking sponge cake with some kind of jam on the top. It tasted divine, soft and sweet. It was the kind of food to fall in love with, it was wooing food. I asked what the jam was and how she got it into the cake, she smiled her little smile again, lent in close to me and whispered the recipe in my ear. I never thought that I’d be seduced on a bus but there I was, being seduced and wooed. When I finally kissed her it was sweet and soft and she tasted faintly of raspberries.

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