Graffiti by Isla Vann

Standing under my umbrella, I stared at the sun’s heat scorching the grey asphalt. Steam danced its way upward and a quick cheeky breeze smacked it dead into my face.

Involuntarily, I inhaled and my nostrils burned. The local weather girl lied. It wasn’t 86 degrees today. It was more like 150. I squint my eyes from the glare and looked to my left.

An array of transportation barrelled down towards me on the priority bus route and I eventually stopped a large 24 seater maxi taxi. As soon as the door opened, I rushed in and my body had a mini orgasm from the air-conditioning.

I bid everyone good evening but only an elderly woman returned the same. It didn’t faze me though. I walked down to the last row at the back and flopped down just as the driver pulled off.

I adjusted myself comfortably, wedging my handbag in the corner by my thigh out of reach and my lunch bag on the opposite side, effectively occupying two seats.

The driver aggressively honked his horn at other potential passengers on the road. Receiving no takers he pressed on the gas pedal forcing us the passengers to jerk forward.

Several people voiced their displeasure by grumbling under their breath but kept their heads down in their respective cell phones and tablets. I closed my eyes while undoing my jacket buttons when the maxi swerved to the left and the door opened.

A bubbly four year old climbed in followed by her mother. As they walked down the aisle, she whispered to her daughter.

“Did you say Good Evening?”

The little girl beamed.

“Good evening!!!!!”

As if directed by a church choir director, everyone including myself replied on cue sweetly.

“Good evening!!!”

The little girl grinned with pride as she walked past her fellow passengers to the vacant seats beside me and her mother followed. Our eyes met and she smiled. The maxi pulled off again.

We drove in relative silence which I welcomed. My bag vibrated with a text and I reached in. That’s when I saw the little girl staring. My eyes followed her line of sight and landed on the different scribbling on the back of the seat in front of us.

There were letter, words, drawing and other things. She looked at her mother then back at me and pointed.

“What’s that?”

I smiled at her innocence.

“That’s a flower.”

“And this?”

“That’s a dollar sign.”

As she gestured to different things, I answered and by the tenth question, her mother largely ignored us and focused on her cell phone. The young lady grew distracted for a brief second then grew still. Abruptly she pointed across me towards the end of the seat.

“What’s that?”

The image caught my eye and I stiffened. My mouth went instantly dry. A simple conversation of ‘What’s that?’ between two strangers suddenly turned dreadful for an innocent inquisitive mind.

“What’s that?” She asked again.

I didn’t know what to say and instead smiled nervously.


Patient eyes waited. A couple of minutes went by, with me looking between the image and her, fighting to find the politically correct words. Not getting the answers she wanted, she turned to her mother.

“Mummy…what’s that?”

Not looking up, she answered.

“What’s what?”

She tugged on her mother’s skirt and when she looked up, pointed in my direction. The woman leaned in and froze. The permanent marker drawing of a large eight-inch penis, balls sack included was looming at her.

She looked at me and I pursed my lips. Slowly she recoiled and gathered her things and her child and moved two seats ahead of me.


“It’s nothing baby. It’s nothing.”

Ten minutes of invisible silence danced between the three of us and when she pressed the bell and the maxi stopped, she hustled out, without even so much as a glance in my direction.

It was understandable. However, when the maxi was pulling off, the little girl waved at me. I smiled and waved back, pleased that her innocence was intact.

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