The old woman sits curled into herself on a bench, waiting for the same bus as everyone else. She is small, with a distant Chinese face, her hair like grey straw pointing arrow straight to the ground, with the exception of her fringe, which spikes out over her forehead like the shade of a baseball cap, as if the wind is perpetually at her back.
It occurs to me she might not be so old, perhaps even my own age. Her chest is sunken, with a sigh of invisibility; her spine no longer straight, as if looking out at a merciless world is now too much for her to bear.
She wants the bus to come. Mostly, she wants to make sure the growing queue of eager book festival commuters will not crowd her out, again.
I imagine, if she could speak to us with a voice we would hear, she might say this:
I do not mind being one among the rest of you filled with so much life and hope.
I do not mind being cast from your world, by my own doing or yours, it matters not.
Please, though, stand back and let me board your bus with ease.