I wasn't sure I wanted to get on the bus. Isolation seems 'in vogue' at the moment, and I am feeling a little cautious.
"Do I need to take public transport?", my inner voice asks itself.
I ignore it. My rational mind over-riding any possible dramatising of the current social situation.
So I wait. Feel the wind on my face as the bus pulls in and stops.
There it is again.
A slight wariness of making this journey. A journey I make hundreds of times a year.
This time it is different.
I roam a cautious eye through the length of the bus.
There are very few people on board.
I relax a little. Then step on.
My travel card has expired so I buy another one. Proceed to sit in my usual place. A side seat so I can look out over the views, rather than at oncoming traffic.
Next to me is an elderly lady. She has a scruffy, rough-haired dog on her lap. It looks like a terrier crossed with something I can't make out.
Preferring to connect with a non-human animal, I move my hand to the dog's nose. A little sniff and I stroke him under his chin.
I'm always cautious with dogs. I got mauled by one when I was seven years old.
The dog casts a wary eye at me. I sense he is nervous or am I projecting my own inner wariness?
My initial approach having been accepted, I rub his chin more, then stroke the side of his face.
"Oooh, he likes you. That's not normal." the old woman says.
Immediately I sense something has changed. The dog's lip, almost imperceptible, shivers.
My body tenses. I withdraw my hand before he nips me. His sideways look warns me to stay back. I do.
I have learned to sense into my body while around dogs. As long as I keep soft and relaxed I am usually OK.
As soon as tension occurs in me. The games over. The dog (any dog) and I get locked in an energetic stand-off.
Over the years I have mastered the art of catching my fear response and rarely get hurt.
This time it had been close.
I wonder what made him so vigilant.
Was the old woman cruel to him? She didn't seem to be, as now he is licking her face.
You never can tell with the human animal. Appearances alone can be so misleading.