Tilly swiped at her eyes. No crying, not today. She had to learn to be stronger, more capable. She’d be alone from now on – who’d want to have a relationship with a seventy-three year old widow? She’d just have to get used to Malcolm’s absence, find a way of moving on.

Today, she would leave the house, get some fresh air, become a part of life again.

Closing the front door behind her, she took a calming breath to soothe her pounding heart, and walked the few yards to the bus stop. It felt strange being outdoors; everything was so noisy, so bright, so busy. So full of life.

It was frightening, and she wasn’t sure she could do it.

Yet something told her that she must.


Aboard the number 12 bus, Carlo closed his book and left it upon his seat. As he stood in the aisle, waiting for his stop, he wondered who would find the book. The bus was packed, but he intended that today’s little gift would reach the person who needed it most.

The doors whooshed open and he stepped down onto the pavement. Tilly Marsh was in the queue at the bus stop; his heart squeezed painfully. He’d heard of Malcolm’s passing, hadn’t known what to say to Tilly. His inaction didn’t sit well with him; he felt as though he’d let her down. How he hoped she’d be the one to find the book … maybe it’d encourage her back to their book club! He knew he wasn’t the only one there to miss her insights, always delivered with gentle warmth or her unique brand of wry humour.

Let her find the book, he repeated to himself as he strode home. Let Tilly find it!


The couple who’d been ahead of her in the queue had found seats . . . but they were the last ones, it seemed. Tilly swayed with the motion of the bus as it rounded the corner, feeling slightly dizzy. So many people in such a small space … her legs felt wobbly.

Sparks of light danced in her vision … a migraine? Some sort of anxiety attack? She fervently hoped not. Then she realised the flickering lights formed a trail, one which flowed right to the rear of the bus. Tilly found herself following the lights; as she neared the back of the bus, she spotted an empty seat, upon which a small book lay.

Picking it up, she glanced around, but no one showed any interest – or ownership. With a heartfelt sigh, she lowered herself onto the seat, flicked open the first few pages of the book. A piece of paper slipped into her fingers.

If you find this book, then please accept it as a gift – my random act of kindness for today. I hope you will find within its pages the inspiration, comfort, joy, or peace of mind that you need. This book is a favourite of mine, and I hope you will enjoy reading it.”

How odd, thought Tilly. She was sure she’d seen this book before; hadn’t Carlo, that lovely chap from the book club, had one just like this at the last meeting she’d attended? That had been three months ago, before Malcolm … She swallowed. Don’t think of that now. Focus on the present.

Turning the book over in her hands, she found that the book soothed her, somehow  … just like Carlo’s soft voice did. He had such warm eyes. Oh, she’d missed him; she’d missed all of them. Perhaps, now that she wasn’t nursing Malcolm, she’d have time to deepen her friendships there. Perhaps she’d pop into next week’s meeting. Perhaps she’d take this book with her, and ask Carlo about his random acts of kindness.


Words © Joanna Gawn

Image © dan /