Liesel, 11th - Singapore
My keys jingle in the lock for a few seconds before I hear a reassuring ‘click’. I force them into my purse and head off down the street. It’s still dark out, but the yellow-lit street lights guide me along the sidewalk. All is quiet except for the scuffing of my black pumps against the concrete. Glancing at my watch, I slow my pace as I still have time before the bus arrives. As I approach the bus stop, I notice the flickering lights of the bar across the street. One of the staff drifts out of the bar and drags the ‘Happy Hour’ sign into the depths of the building. He then re-emerges to shut the windows and pick up the empty beer bottles littered on the ground. And then out of the blue, a woman appears. She scrambles toward the staff, wearing only a nightgown that clings to her bony figure. A car passes, blocking my view for a few seconds. It’s too dark to read their faces, but I now see the woman talking to the employee; her hands are clasped together, and the employee nods before ambling back into the bar. The woman starts to pace back and forth outside the entrance, her hand gripping the fabric of her nightgown.
An orange hue is beginning to creep across the sky, I glance at my watch and curse under my breath; the bus is running late. Movement from across the road catches my eye, the staff is walking out of the bar with a stumbling man by his side.
The man is tripping over his own feet, which doesn’t come as a surprise when I notice the glimmering beer bottle in his hand. The woman rushes to his side as the staff lowers the drunkard onto a chair, and I hear her say something along the lines of “Oh, thank you so much, I’m so sorry.”
The staff doesn’t react but retreats back into the pub once again, closing the door behind him. The drunk man seems to be awakening from his stupor as the woman, who is kneeling down, tends to his unbuttoned shirt; he yawns and rubs his eyes, the bottle still gripped in his hand.
“Come on, let’s go now,” I hear the woman say, her voice wavering. The man doesn’t respond, but raises the beer bottle to his lips.
“No, that’s enough,” the woman insists, her hand reaching for the drink. The man pushes her away and erupts with a stream of vulgarities. He jumps up, swaying on his feet for a few moments before raising the bottle over the cowering woman. A car passes, blocking my view again, and then the sound of shattering glass pierces the air.
I’m frozen with shock. All the other commuters are now fixated on the scene across the road; the man is staggering around yelling, his words unintelligible. By now, the sun has risen and I can see the woman standing in a pool of glistening glass shards.
“Please, the kids, the kids,” she pleads while pointing at the apartment buildings down the road.
“No!” he bellows, his voice echoing all around. The bus finally arrives and the other passengers frantically board the bus. I’m about to get on when I hear a loud smacking noise; the passengers gasp loudly, their faces pressed up on the window facing the bar. The bus captain is holding the doors open for me, but I do something unexpected, “I’ll catch the next bus” I say.
As the bus passes, I rummage through my bag for my cell phone. I look up, the woman is backing away from the drunk man, brandishing a red mark on her face.
“Jim, please, let’s go,” she cries. I finally retrieve my phone and dial 911, I start speaking to the operator while keeping my eyes on the scene. The staff has burst out from the bar and is now trying to subdue the wild man, the woman shrieks as he flails around violently in the staff’s arms. After a few moments, the operator informs me that officers are on their way. Within minutes, sirens pierce through the air and colorful lights flood the street. The man howls more vulgarities as officers rush to restrain him. The woman is ushered to one of the police cars by another officer, her frail figure shuddering under the nightdress. The next bus arrives and I board quickly, taking a seat next to the window. As the bus slips away, I look at the bar once more; this time I’m shocked to see that the woman is staring directly at me. She flashes a pained smile, tears glimmering in her eyes, and bows her head in gratitude.
Students 6th-12th Grades