#tinyroadstories

 
 
 

that winter you take the 26 bus, often, to see a brother. one forged not by blood but by a shared tendency, in your younger days, to wring yourselves through cycles of infatuation and heartbreak and then, as if to tell each other to cut the crap, parley rude jokes at each other’s expense. you eat and talk together until the tube stops running and you finally leave to catch your bus. you’ve grown to love walking london’s streets after dark, the pavements shiny from rain some nights. that’s how london belongs to you: solitary night walks and night bus rides and you all bundled up in your coat and oversized scarf, going somewhere or going home, your ears plugged into music turned up loud. that winter you listen to the kinks a lot. you’d never listened to them properly before though some of their songs felt familiar, like secondhand nostalgia, as if you were missing what you imagined your father might have missed except he probably couldn’t pick out a kinks song, being more of a rod stewart kinda guy. you though, you have strangers on loop, and one night that winter you were walking as usual, past muffled bass thumps behind closed doors and 24-hour kebab shops, when you saw a man standing in front of a stack of fruit boxes outside a convenience store, cradling a festoon of white flowers cast upon a wire frame as long as both his arms, which spelt starkly: BROTHER. was this an inopportune early a.m. preparation for a final farewell? the man looked like a big bird whose wings had been clipped. he peered anxiously into the store but he couldn’t move for holding the wreath and he couldn’t put it down. he looked to be more than fifty but held himself, in that moment, like a forlorn fifteen-year-old. and you wanted to ask him: sir, tell me about your brother. how did he live? how did you love him? you wanted to take his photograph because he moved you, just standing there, holding on to that big wreath. but you didn’t. you pretended not to see him. you felt like an intruder, a thief, and you walked on with your head down and rode your bus home. now, every time you think of the word brother, you think of it weaved in white flowers.