A Long Journey by Sue Mullinger


Bridget was pleased to find an empty seat on the bus. Her customers all seemed to have complaints and the day had been long. She did not have a lunch break as a couple of members’ of staff were on holiday. Bridget knew she could not leave her till unattended. Her feet ached and she gratefully sat down.

 When all the passengers were loaded, the driver drove out of the bus station. At the next stop, several people got on including a young mother with a toddler and baby in a buggy.

 The mother sat and looked at her mobile phone. She never looked for her small son. He had climbed on a seat behind Bridget and was bouncing up and down. Then he jumped across the aisle. When the bus moved from the stop the child began running towards the back of the bus. He was shouting for his mother to watch but she ignored him and the baby in the buggy while she continued to look at the screen.

 Bridget tried calling the mother, tried telling her the son was going to hurt himself but the young woman remained engrossed in her phone.The little boy was getting louder and louder. Bus began to gain speed and the boy jumped off a compartment for luggage but this time he fell. He landed heavily with a thud. The boy started to cry and still the mother took no notice of him.

 Bridget saw that a man had gone and picked up the boy. He was checking him over to make sure the child was not hurt. It was then that the mother looked up and unleashed a set of profanities when she saw her son in the arms of a stranger.

 The man put the boy down and rushed back to his seat not saying anything. A general murmur of disbelief was heard throughout the vehicle. Bridget pressed the button to get off at the next stop. As she walked by the mother she could not resist saying bus passengers are not your children’s carers. She told her she should be happy that her son had not been seriously hurt.

     Descending the bus steps Bridget blushed when she received a round of applause from the other passengers.’