- Place: On a bus.
- Character: A veteran cop
- Object: a bowl of chicken soup
- Weather: thunder all around.
It was the last time Nelson Daniels would ever ride the 22 from Port Chalmers, to the Valley. There he sat, resolute, eager to reach his destination. His tweed suit hugged his diminishing frame, as he stared out at the chill of the evening. The rain cascaded down the window, twinkling in the lights, filling itself with the colors of the city. The depth of darkness, heightened by the storm clouds, strengthened Nelson’s grip on the bowl of chicken soup; its heat dwindling, but its clear smell beginning to permeate through its thin protective foil. Inside, the bus was ablaze with conversation. You could hear two university students gossiping about a lecturer, a group of teens bandering about the latest lingo, and the bus driver chatting with a tourist. Yet, nobody seemed to notice old Nelson Daniels, the veteran policeman. He sat, alone, in silence.
By now, the storm thundered all around, booming through the bus. Murmurs were replaced by silence, as a sense of awe, struck the bus. The flash of the lightning, caused the mind to imagine, and delude. Everyone knew the big metal structure was a magnet for a strike. Nelson’s eyes however, wizened by his years in the force, showed an indomitable spirit, not even thunder or lightning could shake his resolve. One by one, two by two, they all pushed their red buttons. In no time he was Nelson Daniels, the last man standing.
For sometime they drove in silence, until Nelson saw his stop. Gripping the bowl with his left, he reached up, and with some hesitancy, pushed the button. Powerful red letters screamed at him from above, “BUS STOPPING.” Time had run out. As if the bus driver was eager to empty his bus, they were soon at a stop. With a quick grunt from the bus driver, Nelson found himself standing outside, wet to the bone, shielding his soup, all alone. There a giant structure loomed before him. It was the rickety old church, with its front window all aglow. There he stood, silenced; alone.
For a moment, Nelson’s unflinching spirit faltered. He dared not think what he would find there, illuminated in candle light. In his ears he heard the cries of his now grown children, and felt their pleading touch as they ushered him inside. He did not hear their words, and their scolds; his mind entirely consumed, by the candle lit room. He was glad for the rain, for his lad should not see his tears, he was the pillar now, and should stand resolute. His children wizened by years, knew not to speak. Had his feet been chained, and his mouth gagged? He could not bring himself to enter, the room. In silence, he mustered his heart, and in courage, he pushed open the door.
There she was, the boat master’s daughter, dressed in the blue that he bought her. His heart pumped. He could feel a deep emotion churning in the very pit of his stomach. A whimper escaped his lips. Here, those fifty years ago, she had danced in his arms. Swaying as one, with his heart trembling, he’d kissed his beloved and fallen in love.
“Ellie, I bought you some soup,” His voice trembled.
“Remember how I used to make this, this soup, when you came round? We laughed, because it was so bad, you swore you’d feed me better.”A small grin broke across Nelson’s face, as he removed the wrap, and placed it by her side, “Oh boy, you did.”
He continued, “Ellie, our bus ride,” voice wavering, “I was with you one last time.”
With that he broke down and wept, his beloved, and best friend, would never ride with him again. In strokes, and strikes, lashes, and groans a glorious symphony was sent from above. It was the glorious send off, to an indomitable heart, broken with love.
**Picture used with permission from: http://mtpmcg.wordpress.com/2009/10/22/busride-university-avenue/ – An amazing photo blog, check it out!!!