CW: brief, undetailed homophobic violence
I wrote this years ago as a response to a prompt at an old writing group. It feels apt for current times.
If I said it hadn’t been a good week, that’d be an understatement.
I always stand out from the crowd, ripped jeans, rainbow docs, stretched ear, pastel pink hair and jet black skin. Mostly it makes no difference, people might stare now and then but I am fabulous, darling so I don’t let it get to me. But the other day when I was bullied and abused whilst waiting for the bus I went home in tears.
“Good God, mate, look at that!”
Those words will haunt me for the rest of my life.
“An example of all what is wrong with this country in one disgusting package.”
They weren’t drunk, they weren’t high, they were rude. I don’t like recalling the incident. They called me names, asked me questions, tried to pressgang the others waiting at the stop to join their side. Some did, others stayed silent but I fought my battle alone. And they hit me. Not with any force, not in a way that left bruises on anything but my soul but they pushed me down, pulled my hair and only stopped when the bus arrived. No one asked me if I was okay, no one stopped to offer me a hand or a word or anything.
I picked myself up, brushed myself down and stood in the rain for the next bus.
But the damage was done. I was shaky, sad, scared to leave the house. Each day was a battle with myself to just do what I had to do. Because those moments of hate, those words of disgust had taken control of me.
The last time I went out it was raining. It’s Manchester, so that’s not so surprising. But it was full on lashing down and as the summer sun had been shining when I went into work for my afternoon shift I hadn’t thought to wear a coat. So I left the café at six o’clock with nothing but my work shirt and trousers and lingered in the porch in vain hopes that the deluge would stop. I felt in that moment like the weather was a reflection of my life.
Depressing, cold, harsh. Sunshine lost.
“Here you go, mate,” a voice broke through my melancholic wonderings.
I looked up, startled.
“I’ve got my mac, I don’t need it. You take it.”
There was nothing that stood out about the guy, but his smile. Genuine and large.
“Are you sure?” I asked and the stranger nodded.
“Oh, aye. You need it more than me.”
And with that he pressed the bright red brolly into my hand, pulled his hood tighter and walked on.
“Thanks, mate!” I yelled after him, he turned a hand and waved a reply but didn’t stop to look back.
I walked to the bus stop, sheltered by my new red umbrella and smiled all the way. My heart lighter than it had been for days, my eyes damp with tears of gratitude buoyed along by the generosity of someone I would never really know.
As I walked that short distance, the hate lost control and love took the lead.
I might not always carry an umbrella, but I will look for those in need and offer that kindness that changed my life to others. That is the power of good, of light, of positivity.
It’s the little things that make a difference.