The short journey from the street corner to the bus stop and its narrow strip of plastic, which offers small comfort as a seat , takes all his energy and focus. One foot in front of the other. One shuffled step at a time.
In their prime, he had towered over his ‘good lady wife’. Now he walks with a curve; leaning heavily on her small shoulders that have rounded under his weight. He looks down at his feet and watches the process of his own walking.
If the bus arrives before they reach the shelter, it means a twenty minute wait for the next bus. Just in case, she brings some boiled sweets for them to suck on and to take their minds off the wait and the cold. The winter is dying now, but the ground and the air are still damp.
As they get closer to the shelter, she hopes more and more that the bus won’t come too early. She often says as much to her husband, who waits for the comment. She doesn’t realise she says the same thing each time. He smiles warmly when she speaks. Her voice and familiar words reassure him.
They enter the shelter and she helps her husband lower himself on to the plastic strip. She sits next to him and they hold each other’s gloved hands.
Within a minute, the bus arrives.