Sep 29
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The Bus

I pushed into the school bus, out of the gray rain, and asked the first little kindergarten girl I saw. All pink and blue- you can tell when their mothers dress them. "Can I sit with you?" She nodded and I swung into the seat, intensely aware of how much taller than her I was, my gum chewing, my earbuds playing music that came out before she was born.
Awkwardly I pull out an earbud, feeling that I owe her something, a compliment, for sharing the seat. "You have a nice lunchbox." She pulls the little flowery quilted bag towards her chest, mutters thanks and turns away towards the window, her breath fogging the glass. I shouldn't have said that- I should have been silent and shut out the world with my music like a typical eighth grader. I plug in to my ancient iPhone and leave the little world on the bus- no longer hot and crowded and damp from the rain, but rather an observer.
The bus driver stares straight on into the rain, ocasionally lifting his hand up and bringing it down on the steering wheel like he's angry, but I can't see his face so I don't know. He's in his fifties maybe, with hideous bleached blond hair and a potbelly. He spits when he yells at the little kids for standing on the bus. He used to keep a little crate of junk food in the front, munching on cheetos as he drove. I saw a half-eaten, open can of lasagna in there once. Now he has an orange plastic bag hanging from the gear stick, which he takes a pack of fig newtons out of. A little yellow triangle flutters under the seat. I wonder what he's like as a real person. I doubt he wanted to be a school bus driver.
The little kid in the seat across the aisle seems to be nodding off. His head falls against the seat in front of him, twitches, then settles. I unhook for a moment to shake his shoulder gently. He starts awake with and looks up at me. He has dark circles under his pale saucer eyes.
"Hey. Don't fall asleep."
"Okay."
He starts to nod off again, and I almost shake him, but instead plug my earbuds back in. He'll live. The bus pulls up to my stop, and I get up. 
I thank the bus driver. I always thank the bus driver.
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