The message

“Man admits to string of rapes in Manchester area.. “

Colin looks away from the newsfeed on the wall of the bus and down at his phone. He swipes at the pop-ups, just in case any messages have been smothered. Nothing.

A flashing ad on the back of the seat forces his gaze.

“Protect your family’s future with life insur..”

He shuts his eyes and tries to imagine positive energy radiating out of him and passing over to the hospital where James and Daisy are.

When he opens his eyes again, the bus is passing under the bridge. Discount offers reflecting on the river from its underside look strangely beautiful.

The bus joins onto the main road. Projections and billboards light it up.

“Trump orders airstrike on…”

“Twenty one dead as fire rampages…”

“40% off our range of carpets…”

Colin checks his phone again and banishes the pop-ups. Still nothing.

He turns his phone face down and looks at the back of his hand. Veins are popping. His knuckles are red. Perhaps he’s getting too old for these early starts.

As he steps off the bus in the centre, a message arrives. Colin opens it.

“It’s a girl! We are over the moon. All is well. Daisy is resting now. Lots of love xx”.

Colin looks up and for a moment the billboards blur, their vivid colours only serving to elevate this happiest of occasions.

You and me

I wake to gentle little grunts and turn over to see you restless and stirring, your eyes still closed, as if in a bad dream.

Outside, the sky has barely begun to turn blue. Is it always the crack of dawn with you?

I get some warm water and drag you out of bed. It’s not as bad as I imagine, but why does it have to smell so much?

You start to thrash around and your finger goes to your mouth. Just hold on, I say, but you’re into full throttle now and I can’t believe the noise that can come from such tiny lungs.

The hum of the microwave calms you down and I wait with powder in hand while the horizon turns pink across the rooftops.

Familiar questions enter my head, urgent and painful. Still no answers. Just you and me.