The bus door opens and a woman tilts her stroller to wheel it aboard. Immediately, a child’s voice wails, ‘No no no bus! No bus!’ The ‘No’ has an ‘o’ as in ‘off’ and ‘bus’ has a ‘u’ as in ‘pussycat’.
She steers into the aisle and it’s a boy in the stroller, distraught now, red-faced and teary, thrashing around and crying ‘No bus! No bus!’ over and over. His panic-stricken eyes dart everywhere as the mother parks him facing backwards and crouches down in front of him.
‘Buses are fun!’ she squeaks in an accent, but he’s having none of it and reaches out to scratch her in the face. She pulls her head back.
They remain like this, him wailing and kicking, her crouching and cajoling, for almost their entire journey. Almost. There’s a moment when the boy giggles suddenly and smiles at his mother, eyes twinkling. But it really is just a moment. The protest resumes, and continues all the way to the corner of Lyons Road in Drummoyne, where the howls finally subside as she wheels him off the bus.