On the bus I was on I noticed what looked like beads dangling from the hand rail. I wondered what it was. Beside me was a young girl possibly aged 5 or 6. The top of her hair was bright red. I thought it was unusual for a girl to have her hair dyed. Then I started reading my book. After a while the girl said something but her voice was so soft I asked her to repeat it.
"A man left it there, you know," she pointed to the beads on the rail.
"Yes, he was sitting beside me."
"What do you think it is?" I said.
She pointed to her wrist.
"Yes, it does look like a wristband," I said.
I went back to reading my book. My friend reached out to take the bead thing off the rail. It did look like a wristband with dangly beads. Other possible uses we came up with were a hairband, a necklace (but it wasn't big enough to go round her head), a bookmark, a dog's lead, earring, ankle bracelet, a ring, a nose ring, Christmas decorations...the possibilities were endless.
"We're going to the hospital."
"Because my little brother is sick." she said.
"Aww, that's sad. Hope he gets well soon."
I asked her if she had any friends. Her face lit up as she listed their names. She said she had five brothers.
"Where are we?"
I noticed the bus was right in front of a tube station. "We're at Mile End Station."
"TION is not pronounced shon."
"Yes it is, that's how you pronounce it - stayshon."
"It's like elephant pronounced elefant."
From time to time she looked across at a woman with blue hair. The woman said something to her in the same soft voice the girl had but I couldn't make out what she was saying. My friend stopped playing with the band and placed it on the seat beside her.
"Is that your mum?" I said.
"Does she not want you to have it?"
She shook her head.
"That's a shame because it's really pretty. It matches your dress."
The girl examined her dress. She had flowers on her dress and some of them were turquoise just like the beads.
"I reckon that man left it for you," I said.
"You think so?" she smiled.
"Yup, I'm sure of it."
"Should I keep it?"
"I would. If I had long hair I would use it as a hair band."
"Why did you cut your hair," she said.
"Because it was too much hassle. I prefer it this way."
"How long was it before?"
I pointed to my chin.
"I like your hair colour by the way," I said.
She picked up the band and played with it some more. She looked across at her mother who must have mouthed something to her because she went quiet.
After a while she whispered, "Mum doesn't like me speaking to strangers."
"Well, I speak to people all the time." We exchanged conspiratorial grins. "But I don't want you getting into trouble."
Who needs to speak anyway? I can still enjoy my friend's company in silence.
"I'm going to sleep now," she said.
After a while my friend said she was going to tie the beads round her hair. She grabbed a clump and twisted it round it. The beads dangled like miniature chandeliers.
"That's pretty," I said. "You look very pretty."
"I am pretty?"
"Yes, you are."
She smiled. She did have a lovely smile.
Soon it was their stop and she got off without looking back.
I hope her mother lets her keep that wristband. If not at least she's had fun playing with it.
Thank you dear friend for being such a wonderful travelling companion. Lots of love to you and your family.