Engage

The 171 grumbles north towards the city centre. George’s thoughts turn to the bed & breakfast. The lady on the phone sounded friendly, if distracted. He hopes it’s on a quiet street. Outside, community wardens prowl the streets in front of a glass-fronted Burger King. He should find them reassuring, but they are unnerving, daring trouble to materialise.

George is surrounded by four girls he assumes to be students, although once children pass the age of seven, he has no clue. They are loud and distracting and George feels himself retreat. Perhaps he should ask if they know Adam. He’s going to have to ask people, he realises now.

You have to engage with him.

Margaret’s refrain rings around his head.

‘So knackered. I got three hours sleep last night.’
‘Thatcher only needed four hours.’
‘Yeah, well I only got -‘
‘Who’s Thatcher?’
‘She was Prime Minister.’
‘I liked Obama, although I’ve given up on boys. Honestly, I’ve like totally given them up.’

There is a pause.

‘When did you start?’

Three of the girls fill the bus with hysterical laughter and high fives.

‘Fuck you.’

George looks across and smiles at the offended girl. She smiles back.

‘Sorry for swearing.’

**

March is an ongoing story based on a man’s search for his lost son on London’s buses.

1 – Welcome to London
2 – Thames
3 – Ghosts
4 – Escape