I was travelling to town by bus – nothing unusual – I always did it when I was going out with friends. Mum couldn’t always take me by car and taxi’s were far too expensive; although recently the bus prices were getting worse.
It was a dark, frosty evening in the middle of November and there was only me and two other people sat upstairs on the double decker.
I remember the poignant smell of body odour, the lingering smell of liquor and even more sickening, the smell of old cigarette smoke that continued to fill the upstairs space even with all windows open.
There was graffiti on the seat in front of me, if I remember correctly it said something along the lines of ‘Harry likes boys’. How imaginative I thought. I sat and stared at it.
I thought of the kids that could have written it. I pictured them in school uniforms; coming home from school rather than going to because from experience, I know this is when the mischief occurs. Possibly around the age of 11 so that would make them first years.
I must have been imagining this for longer than I had thought because it was then I heard a thud next to me. It had awoke me with surprise from my daydream. As I looked down at the grungy, torn seat beside me I noticed the thud had been made from a spiral bound black notebook. It was tatty and torn like the seat where it lay.
I looked around the top section of the bus wondering who had dropped it but no one was there. I considered it falling from the man’s backpack that had sat behind me a moment before as he made his way swiftly down the stairs.
I considered leaving it but I was intrigued by its mystery. With a quick swipe I picked it up and opened the first page.
The writing was small and neat; a well-considered layout for what looked like a battered old book. The pages were scrupled, thin lined with some doodles where the user had evidently become bored of what they had been writing.
My eye scanned the page until I noticed scribbled writing in the bottom right hand corner. It was so small my eye nearly skipped past it. I don’t normally read other people’s private notebooks but curiosity got the better of me.
‘One day someone is going to hug you so tight, that all your broken pieces fit back together’.
Odd. Confused I inspected the page.
It was then I noticed that their were many different handwritten quotes on the page; some in neat writing and some in scruffier writing.
At this point I flicked through the book. Its pages had been filled with people’s handwriting. All different, all unique; all had written quotes, some accompanied by doodles. I turned to the inside cover of the book to see if there were any clues to who the owner could be.
Written were the words:
‘Pick a stranger who looks lost or who you see all the time, write a quote and then pass this book to them. All I ask is you leave this notebook on this bus, if you are the only one left on here then leave a note for the bus driver.’
Further down the page the owner added his quote:
‘ Throw some kindness like it was confetti’.