The Angel in the Car Park
By Nik Perring
Location: Intersection of Palmerston Street and Hurst Lane, Bollington
Two old ladies were standing in front of me as I waited at a bus stop near a car park. It had snowed heavily and while I waited to see if the bus would arrive – there were rumours it had been cancelled – I listened to them. The first one, the one on the right, with hair as fine as thread jutting out from under a headscarf, said, ‘Might not be able to buy my angel this year.’
‘No,’ her friend said. It was neither a question nor a statement.
‘First time since I was nine, it’ll be,’ she said. ‘My father gave me my first, as a present. Brought it back from a business trip. Said it’d watch over me, keep me safe, just like he did.’
‘Really,’ said the lady’s friend.
‘It was beautiful. Made of china. No taller than my thumb. Lips as pink as a kitten’s paws and oh how I loved it. Loved that I had something that’d look out for me.’
I moved closer.
The lady continued. ‘I had quite a collection – even before my father died.’
‘Oh,’ said her friend.
‘Heart attack. I don’t know what I was thinking, really. But it seemed that with him gone I needed a little more looking after. So I jumped on the bus and I went into town and I came home with another angel.’
‘Really. And I’ve done it every year since. Never missed one.’ She shuffled closer to her friend and said, ‘And I always make a point of doing it on his anniversary.’
‘Lovely idea,’ said her friend.
I noticed then that people were beginning to drift away. One lad, a mobile phone to his ear, said ‘bus has been cancelled,’ as he walked past me.
‘Cancelled,’ said the lady’s friend. ‘Doesn’t look like I’ll be able to buy my chops. And you won’t be able to get this year’s angel.’
The lady said nothing. I think she shook her head slightly, though I can’t be sure.
She walked then, slowly, to a corner of the car park where the snow was thick and untouched. She placed her bag on the ground and she lay down on her back. Nobody said a word. Everybody watched. The lady moved her arms, down then up, flapping.
When she’d finished she stood, collected her bag, and walked away, not looking back once at what she’d created. Not once. I suppose she didn’t have to.
Nik Perring is a writer and workshop leader from the North West. He doesn’t live very far from Manchester at all. His short stories have been widely published and he’s the author of a children’s book. http://nikperring.blogspot.comStats: