A small moment in timeA Story by Overthehill
A true story of something which happened to me when I was 17 but which I have never forgotten.
I can still remember my mother's scornful look as I left that morning.
'May is far too early to be wearing a light, summer frock,' she said.
'But Mum, it's warm and sunny and everyone else in college is wearing their summer dresses. I'll be fine, honestly I will,' I said, lifting my bag and making my way to the door.
'Well, don't blame me if you come down with one of your throats,' she warned, but she still came to the door to kiss my cheek and see me off.
It was a wonderful day and the sun shone from a bright blue sky highlighting the Parliament building at Stormont in the distance. I remember so clearly what I wore that day. It was a yellow and white gingham dress with a full skirt trimmed with broidery anglaise. My friend Muriel's mother had made it for me and she had carefull sewn in a gathered band to make me look as though I had a bust. Muriel's mother was from Belgium and she seemed to me to be the most glamorous mother I had ever known. Her husband was an officer in the army and I would stay overnight with Muriel when her mother and father attended one of their many social evenings. She would come in to see us before she left, smelling of the most gorgeous, heady perfume and I loved the swish of her taffeta skirts as she passed us. As I walked down the hill I examined my white, ballerina shoes. My mother had not approved at all of me buying them, but my grandmother had given me the money to buy just what I liked and I had looked through the window of the store in the city where I had seen them, every day on my lunch break. They had pointy toes which my mother told me would destroy my toes, and all these years later, I have to admit she was right.
There was no one I knew at the bus stop which made me feel happy as I had to read over some homework I was supposed to have done the previous night. I climbed to the top of the trolley bus and chose a seat far away from the other passengers. I took out my book and began to read. It was hopelessly boring and I found my mind straying, thinking about Saturday night when I would go to the local hop with my girl friends. There was a good chance that Philip would be there and I closed my eyes and imagined how I would feel when I saw him. He really did make my heart miss a beat and I longed for him to notice me but although he was always more than friendly, he was going out with one of my best friends, a girl much more sophisticated and older looking than I was. My friend Alistair had confided in me that Philip thought I was really pretty and would be quite a stunner when I grew up. Oh my word, how that made my eyes sting. I was older than Joan, for goodness sake, but no matter how hard I tried I could not make myself look close to my 17 years. This morning I had worn my hair down on my shoulders as it was sitting quite well, something which it rarely did. It was straight and ungiving and the easiest option was to wear it on a pony tail high at the back of my head. I pulled myself out of my daydream and centred once more on my text book.
By the time we had almost reached the city centre, I had at least got to grips with the passage I had to read so I closed the book and put it back into my bag. I could feel the warmth of the sun on my face as I sat by the window. We were just about to cross the River Lagan, so I prepared to gather up my things and make my way downstairs. Halfway down the bus came to a halt. I heard the familiar clang of the trolleys clashing above my head. 'Oh no,' I thought, 'that's the last thing I need this morning.' Miss Elliot, the principal of the secretarial college, had warned me that I had to be punctual every morning as it would stand me in good stead for my years ahead in business. She was not a pleasant woman and the only reason she tolerated me in her class was because of my obvious ability in English. She wore tweed skirts and twin sets and her steel grey hair was tied severely behind her head, forced into a tight little knot. I dreaded her classes even though she awarded me 'A's for my essays. I prayed that she wouldn't be standing at the door this morning if I was late.
'Sorry love, this will only take a few minutes,' the conductor smiled at me. 'Have a seat and we'll have you in school in plenty of time.' I smiled back and sat in the long seat at the back of the bus near the door.
'Everything all right?' I heard a voice ask the conductor as he struggled to release the pole from under the bus which they used to put the trolleys back on the line.'
'Yea mate, shouldn't take long. We'll not hold the traffic up don't worry.'
'Ok, I'll direct it round you until you've finished.'
It was a young policeman with the bluest eyes I'd ever seen. He was standing right outside the window where I sat. He was immensely handsome and younger than any other policeman I'd seen.' He spotted me looking out and stopped to give me the widest smile. I smiled back feeling my cheeks blush and hating myself for it. He walked on to the back of the bus and began re directing the cars gathering up behind the bus. Every now and then he would glance back in my direction and smile again. I cupped my chin in my hand and watched as the conductor and the driver skilfully manoevred the trolleys back on the the line. For a tiny moment I wished they would take longer just so I could enjoy the smiles. I had never felt so grown up in my entire life for I understood that the looks he gave me were admiring.
'OK everyone, job's done and we'll be on our way before you can say Jack Robinson,' the conductor called out cheerfully. 'Soon have you in school,' he added giving me a wink. I wanted to explain to him that I wasn't at school, that I was at college, but somehow it didn't really matter. The young policeman gave me a broad wave as the bus headed off and he continued his walk over the bridge. At the traffic lights, the bus stopped and he caught up with us once again. This time he laughed when our eyes met and I laughed back, wishing I had the courage to jump off, but I didn't and instead made my way to the platform where I stood holding on to the chrome bar. Just as I thought I might step off, the bus started again and the policeman raised his arms in despair and waved again.
'He's taken quite a shine to you young lady,' the conductor said, 'not that I blame him. You're a real sight for sore eyes in the morning.' I managed to thank him but I knew my cheeks were once again a bright pink.
I never saw that policeman again. My father changed his timetable so he could drive me in to college in the morning. My life changed when I decided to go back to school and study for another year. I have never forgotten that morning even though I am now a mother of five and a grandmother of two. It was the morning I grew up, found a new confidence and realized that although I looked young, I was still able to be admired. All these years later I can still recall his handsome face and amazing blue eyes. Philip did invite me out after he split with Joan. I declined as I had by then found the first love of my life. I met Ricky some weeks after that eventful morning. By Christmas he had bought me a bottle of Hartnell's In Love. I had finally grown up.
© 2012 Overthehill
Added on March 21, 2012
Last Updated on March 21, 2012