One day ago
The bags in my hands weighed five hundred pounds--or so it seemed. Loud guttural hollers filled my ears, bugs buzzed by my sweaty face, and I felt fingernails dig into my skin. I didn't bother telling whoever had the sharp fingernails in MY skin to stop, because I knew it'd just end up a disaster. My mother's body was pressed against my side so tightly that I could hardly dare to breathe, and I imagined passing out at any moment, but other than all that I was completely and totally okay.
I remembered how, before I was stuck in this miniature crap of a bus, my mother had forced me to move away from the town we used to live in. At my old school I had friends. In fact, I had once been with three friends: Kayla, Rachael, and Grace. Then, I'd lived in a reasonable sized house with a dog named Bones and a cat named Fluffy, a bunch of my favorite items, and my mom even had a cool car that she'd drive me to school with each morning.
In the bus, though, I was stuck in a space full of old men in black suits, children covered in mud and dust with ripped clothes, and sick people who looked like they wouldn't survive another second. Suddenly, three guys were thrown on top of me when we hit a bump in the road. One of the men recovered his balance after the other two had and grunted, "Excuse me, lady, but I need that seat now." I stared at him in confusion before one of the other men grabbed my shirt collar. My mother's gaze snapped my direction and she gasped.
"Never have I met such rude men!!" My mother exclaimed, straight out slapping the man who held my shirt collar. He let go and glared at my mom. She continued, "I don't know why I took this damn bus! We should've taken the BABY bus!!" That must have really roasted the two men, because they both took a step back. I hardly contained my laughter.
Watching as the men fumbled around on their way back to the pole in the center of the bus, I mumbled, "thanks, ma." Now that all the jokes were aside, the scene that had just happened was genuinely embarrassing. Why should my mother have to stand up for me, a thirteen year old? She nodded in response, and I could tell her heart was still beating as fast as mine was.
"Passengers, welcome to Jackson. Everyone please remain with your seat belts buckled as we enter the bus stop of our destination, except those who are getting out at stop one. Then you get yourselves prepared."
The deep and growly voice of the female worker talking through the microphone didn't lift my spirits at all. Now that we were at Jackson, we were already two hours from my happy old life. It didn't make anything better when people began going wild and pushing through the crowd on their way to the front door. The bus took a sharp turn and a mud streaked woman went hurling into my leg. "OW!" I shouted, pushing her away and watching a she set off again. Glancing down, I saw I had gotten some dirt and debris off of the lady's clothes onto my skinny jeans, and some of the mud off of her skin onto my hands from pushing her. "Ma, you'd better tell me we are not getting off at stop one!"
"No, Anne, we're stop two." My mother's response made me relieved for one moment, until all the people got off the bus for stop one. There were still just as many people as before still there. "Though don't get your hopes--"
"All of the people exiting at stop two, please prepare to leave." Another grouchy voice from the microphone boomed from the speakers, interrupting my mother. Immediately twenty or so people began pushing past me in their attempt to reach the outside world first.
I glanced at my mother, my heart stuck in my throat. After the earlier encounter with the two bad dudes, I didn't really want to be stuck in that giant human swarm. "When are we going to...go?" I muttered to my mom with my teeth clenched tightly together. She was scanning the crazy crowd of people with a distant look in her eyes. "Mom?!" I shouted, trying to get her away from that zoned out state. "Mother, he--" suddenly, before I finished speaking, she grasped my arm and dragged me with her at almost full sprint. Truth be told, I had never seen her run that fast, and this time I was trailing along behind her.
"Don't talk, run!" My mother screamed. She let go of my arm and I found myself instinctively dashing by her side towards the bus exit. Someone's hand poked me in the side and another person tripped and kicked me in the leg, but I kept running with my eyes closed until I tumbled down the bus steps onto sharp grass. I lay there, stunned, until my vision cleared and I saw my mother offer my wary self her hand. "You okay?" She asked, helping me to stand.
"Yeah, just, that was terrifying." My heart was still leaping about my chest as fast as a race-horse in a world premiere. My mom wrapped her arm around my neck and glanced around her. The tall grass made my legs itch and I was sure bugs were crawling along them; everything about this place, not just the overly long grass, made my stomach churn.
"Anne, let's go see if we can find our house." My mother's voice shook me from my thoughts. I sighed, picking the bags I had dropped back up and stumbling after my mom.
"You know, ma, I don't want to live here..." I began, my eyes half way closed, "All my friends are back in Jersey and I can't even walk without stepping in bug infested grass or cheap smelling dirt. Do you really have to try to find a husband HERE?" She looked at me in horror, her mouth gaped wide open.
Suddenly my mom stopped walking, "Anne, I will consider your pleas, but first I want you to take one day at school. And little missy? You know we need a man around here and that Jersey isn't home to any descent one of those guys, as you should have noticed form your previous bus ride." Her harsh speech choked me on the words I was going to say next, and I wound up not speaking them at all as we reached a set of scraggly buildings. Only then did I notice my skin was numb from the freezing temperature and my teeth were clattering together uncontrollably. Wind whizzed past my face, helping the cold make me miserable.
"Here we are." I mumbled, letting out a crispy breath of air. "Just as shabby as I imagined." The house my mother had began walking towards looked old and had moldy green stains along the wood. My mom sent me a stern glare and I immediately shut up. The door was creaky and green, which I didn't know if it was because of mold or if someone was just crazy enough to paint it that color. As my mom fumbled around for the key, finally grabbed it, and then unlocked the door, I couldn't help but gag at the strong smell of pine wood.
Evening was pouring in by one of the house's tattered windows, and I wasn't surprised when my mother looked my way and grunted, "go find your bedroom and get some sleep, you have a big day tomorrow." With a sigh I made my way to the back of the house, looking for any sign of a room. One smooth, wooden door was standing ajar, and I peeked inside. I saw a rusty sink, shower, and toilet, so I assumed that was the bathroom. Moving farther along the hall, I saw the next door on the right and warily opened it. There was a queen sized bed, that appeared to be drenched in dust, a deformed dresser, and a small lamp on a coffee table; It had to be my room. The "perfect" room for the "perfect" child.
Setting down my bags, I lay down on the bed, sinking deep into the cushion. Dust made my arms tingle and I sneezed, sitting upright again. With a sigh I slipped on my pajama pants from in the bag. Reaching down into the middle of the bag, I felt for my shirt, only to touch some paper. Dragging it out of the pocket, I examined it and let my heart stop instinctively. It was a picture of my father. Quickly, but carefully, I slid the photo back into my bag, remembering his hair slicked back with sweat and his tired smile. Instead of continuing to think about my dead dad, I pulled my night shirt on and hopped onto the creaky bed. It sounded like it would crack and fall apart at any moment, so I managed to lay down uncontrollably on the very edge, just in case I woke up to it exploding in flames, so I'd have an easy escape. Then I let myself fall into an uneasy sleep.
Several hours ago
The sun burning my eyes woke me and I forgot where I was for a moment. Sunlight had never roused me from sleep like that any other day; then I realized I had moved to Jackson. Every horrible moment from the previous day came back at once and I grunted in grumpiness, peering at the clock. 7:06? What was I forgetting? More thoughts tumbled into my mind and I leaped from the bed. School! At 7:30! Dashing through the shabby wooden halls, I yanked my mother's door open. The door knob almost came right off and I coughed at the smell of pine wood, and then smoke. "Mom-?" I coughed, slurring my words together and looking around the hallway. My mother was standing at a small square thing that looked like a stereo with meat on it. "What is that?" I grumbled, peering at the pan. There were egg whites in the middle and sizzling sounds produced the sickly smoke that was fogging up my nostrils.
"The food? Or the stove?" My mother smiled, obviously forgetting our fight the day before. I looked at the 'stove' skeptically. Back in Jersey we had used these fancy heater-oven things for everything, and didn't use old fashioned stoves.
"It's neat, isn't it."
My mom's comment startled me. In my opinion, the stove was just as ugly as the rest of the house, but I didn't dare say anything, "I guess." I walked to my new room and changed into the shiny black vest and pants I was going to wear to school, hoping that all the hillbillies here wouldn't be wearing cowboy boots and holey jeans.
My mom called from the other room, "Come and eat! You've got to catch the bus-"
"WAIT!" I interrupted rather rudely, waving my arms in the air as I ran into the kitchen, "I have to ride the bus with those cheap children, too, Ma?!" My disbelieving voice squeaked in horror. My mother rolled her eyes as if to say, "of course!" , but she ended up not saying anything. I sat down, upset, while my mom plopped a scoop of eggs onto my plate. "Is that all? Where's the bacon, pancakes, sausage, milk, hashbrowns, and granola bars?" My old life was way better than my new one if all I got to eat in Jackson for breakfast was a tad bit of eggs. My mom nodded, cutting off half of my eggs and shoving them in her mouth. I scowled, eating my bitefull before grabbing my backpack. "Goodbye." I mumbled, pushing my way out of the crazy green door onto the balcony, fumbling my way down the stairs, and running to catch up to the approaching yellow bus.
Stepping onto the bus was a disaster. One kid shouted out in a wierd voice, "look! The city slicker!" This made everybody who heard them laugh and giggle amongst their little groups of friends. I lowered my head and scooted into the nearest seat, not ready when I bumped into someone on the other side. My head shot up and I narrowed my eyes.
"Was'up, homey?" It was a boy, with the ugliest brown mop of hair on his head and dark green eyes. I could tell he was a big kid, probably a bully, and trying to speak 'like I do' so he could make more people laugh. I glared at him.
"Excuse me, what was that?" I grunted, lowering my brow closer to my eyes.
He obviously didn't like that I was challenging him, so he grabbed my wrist. I kicked him in the side but he didn't let go and pulled me closer. "One more word and you go down the trash, you got that?" I gulped, nodding vigorously. When the bus pulled to a stop at the school parking lot I immediately stood up. Suddenly the boy grabbed the back of my jacket and pushed me into another guy walking past. That one grasped my pony tail and yanked hard, making me squeal. The kids were real bullies; not surprising for their color and bulk.
Finally I cleared a way out of the bus and took off at a dead sprint for the front school door. The school looked small and shabby; I had thought that the school had a lot of kids by how many were on the bus, until I noticed that was the only bus.
"Hey, you must be the new girl! May I ask you your name?" A woman in warm-up pants and a sweatshirt greeted me when I walked inside the school. I raised one eyebrow, not pleased at how sweet she was acting.
"Uhm, hello... would you not be kind enough to start with YOUR name? I don't talk deep with strangers."
"A grumpy one we have here!" The lady's voice was sympathetic, "you must of had to leave behind lots of good friends to come to our happy little school."
"You don't got to point out the obvious, lady, just tell me your name."
"The name's Elysha."
"Thanks, I'm Anne."
The woman blinked at my tone, but continued behaving kindly; I concluded she was getting paid for nice greetings. Probably need to have a word with the principal 'bout my experience! "What a beautiful name you have, sweety, and you're rocking that outfit!"
I scowled, "thanks? Anyways, what first?"
"Your mother said you liked math."
Elysha's voice was full of tension now, "and art."
Elysha brightened up a little, "that's great! How about we start the day with sports and end the day with sports? Just in case you didn't know, we're setting up your schedule ri--"
"I knew that, I'm not an idiot." My voice was full of scorn as I peered over the lady's shoulder. A few kids were in the halls now, getting books and junk from their lockers.
"Well, here's your schedule." Elysha sighed, clearly unsatisfied by my behavior.
I took the paper out of her hands and studied what she had just written down.
Class 1/Volleyball 7:30-8:30
Class 2/Mathematics 8:35-9:20
Class 3/English 9:25-10:10
Class 4/Science 10:15-11:00
Class 5/Social Studies 12:14-1:00
Class 6/Art 1:15-1:35
Class 7/Keyboarding 1:40-2:25
Class 8/Track 2:25-3:00
"Wait- why am I in track?" I complained instantly, narrowing my eyes at the last class on the schedule. "Volleyball is great, but track?" I realized when I looked back up that Elysha had already pressed the little enter button on the phone.
"Sorry, we've already gotten your schedule planned out! And I thought you looked like a nimble runner so you might be good at track. Don't be late for volleyball, though, Anne!"
With a deep breath I stomped a foot at the retreating woman. Track? Seriously? Of all things, I'm stuck with a running class! Especially running with a bunch of hoodlums who probably smell worse with sweat than they already do without it. Walking slowly down the narrow hall, I glanced in rooms all the way through it, finally spotting someone who I could at least ask. "Uh... hey?" It was a girl, and she hurried her gaze up from the book she was reading.
"Oh! H-Hi! I was just-" she quickly slammed the book shut and hid it behind her, "I wasn't reading before class, no, j-just packing my bag with my books f-for class!" I stared at her skeptically.
"I have no clue what you are ranting on about, but I would like to ask a question." The girl looked relieved when I spoke, standing up and placing the book back on her bean bag chair. Suddenly curiosity got the better of me and I changed the question I was originally planning to ask, "oh, why were you scared when I saw you reading a book before class?"
She froze, "don't you know the rules! No reading before you go to the first class!" I opened my mouth to ask why but she cut me off, "don't even ask me why, I guess it's because kids either cheat or their are some bullies who like to rip book pages!"
My mouth dropped open and I widened my eyes. I almost said, "the rules here are even dumber than I thought!" but caught myself just in time. Instead, I responded with, "that sounds horrible! I won't tell, don't worry. Now...do you know where the volleyball court is? That's my first class in case you were wondering."
"Well, we don't exactly have-"
"Figures," I interrupted, rolling my eyes and crossing my arms up against my chest. This school didn't even have the first class I was supposed to go--
The girl continued and interrupted my thoughts in return, "no, no, we have a place we play volleyball. The gym, all the way down the hall on your right." I blinked, surprised for a second, and then shook it off. Nodding in thanks, I walked away from the little corner. Behind me I heard someone hollering.
"What do you think you're doing?!" It sounded like a mean adult lecturing a bad student. What did I do? Turning around cautiously I spotted a tall, trim, bearded man with a hand on his hip and a finger pointing into the girl's reading corner. Relief spread through me when I first heard the commotion and realized what was going on, until I thought of how nice the girl had been. Even though I wasn't the one getting in trouble, I had to help her not get in trouble.
"Sir? Were you talking to me?" I ran up to the man and the girl who was stiff with terror, clutching her book tightly.
He turned around and studied me, "no, I obviously wasn--" after looking at me closer he suddenly smiled, "you must be the new kid! R-Rachael? No...Virginia..."
"Uh...nowhere close. Anne." By now the girl was looking hopefully between me and the principal, most likely having guessed that I had come to get her out of trouble. "By the way, what's going on here? I don't know why anyone would get in trouble for reading, but she had looked pretty unsure about it when I told her to start the book I had enjoyed in fourth grade." The principal rubbed his cheek.
"I suppose you are new here and don't know about the 'no reading before the first class' rule..." the man lowered his gaze for a moment, thinking. I bit my lip in nervousness. When he raised his gaze again, he looked more stern towards the girl, "but YOU do. Don't do this again, whether someone tells you to or not." The principal turned and walked away, the hair on his head bobbing up and down when he moved. With a sigh of relief, I turned to meet the girl's eyes.
"Oh my goodness how can I express my gratitude?!" The girl squealed.
"One: tell me your name."
"Haley. It's Haley."
"Good, mine is Anne if you hadn't heard. Now, two: leave me alone." I left it at that note, swiveled back around, and strutted towards the gym. I felt her troubled gaze following me but I didn't look back. The worst that could happen was me make a friend when I was still going to convince my mom we should move back to Jersey. Now, dragging my phone from my pocket, I tapped on my mom's account. Then I texted her, 'school suxs, we need 2 move after this.' My mom, almost immediately, responded with, 'alright, sweety... but at least take the rest of the day.'
The bell rang as soon as I reached some sort of a court with some poles spread out on it. I figured it was probably the gym, and the poles were the parts to the volleyball net that hadn't been assembled yet. Immediately a few kids filed into the gym from some sort of office. Then a big dark colored guy with a beard followed them; most likely, they were all coming out of the coach's office, and that guy was the coach. "Excuse me," I began when they came within earshot. The coach glanced at me with his brow furrowed.
"And you must be Anne, that new student."
"Uh...yes...good job on the name." I paused awkwardly while the four kids stared at me, giggling. "Anyways, this is volleyball practice?"
"Great, cause I'm in this class right now. When'll we start?"
"When he gets the net up, you doofus!" One of the kids, a tall brownish boy, shouted. I looked at him and scratched my neck when he smiled at the thin girl beside him. "Probs too dumb for volley." He whispered, just loud enough for me to be able to hear clearly.
My left eyebrow went up, "Excuse me?" The boy stared at me in confusion like he hardly spoke English; wouldn't surprise me much in this this town.
"I said, 'when he gets the net up'."
"You know what, I don't need to answer your crap, so shut it." The boy stepped forward, holding out his fist in a threatening manner. My instincts told me to take a step backwards, away from him, but I wound up not doing so.
I raised my chin, "I don't need to LISTEN to YOUR crap, so YOU shut it."
The boy stepped forward again, this time punching me in the side of the head. Defenseless, I fell backwards with a thump on the gym floor. For a moment I lay winded. "That's what I thought." The boy laughed, leaning in to one of his friends and whispering something in their ear that I was too distant to hear. Their friend laughed but another girl leaned down to help me stand.
"I'm sorry they are being mean to you." The girl wore a short floral shirt that showed part of her stomach and jeans with small holes carved into the knees. Her skin was a little bit in between tan and white, and she had a strange accent that seemed almost a British type. "My name is Talaia. You are Anne, correct?" I nodded slowly, surprised at Talaia being kind when her friends were being so utterly un-welcoming. "That's nice. Anyways, I believe I have your same schedule. I can't wait to see you in more classes- you seem like a city girl?" I nodded even slower, getting uncomfortable under Talaia's curiosity. She smiled.
"Yeah...I came from the city." Talaia giggled when I said this, surveying my body.
"I can see it in your clothes, skin, and perso--"
"Whatever is going on over there I recommend it stop! I have the net up, so get your backsides over here!" The harsh call of the coach interrupted Talaia. I glanced in his direction, immediately disappointed when I noticed how narrow and raggedy the volleyball net was. Cautiously following Talaia towards the coach, with the eyes of the other two boys and girl boring into my back, I swallowed. How would they react? Would I find a volleyball in my face?
There was the tall black boy who had bullied me, the dark girl who had laughed with the bully, and then another bulky boy who was a very rough tan. They all glared at me as they passed, spreading to their side of the volleyball net. That was when I noticed there was an uneven amount of players since I joined. The three kids who hated me took one side, while Talaia and I were stuck on the smaller side. "Oh no! How are we going to win with only two people?" Talaia squealed. I gulped, unable to answer her question.
The coach's whistle blew and the volleyball was sent into the air. I leaped for it, but the taller boy on the other side hit it away. Talaia began running wildly backwards, only to trip on her own two feet and land hard on the court as the ball zipped over her head. I started towards it, but it was a futile effort since the volleyball was already on the ground.
When the whistle blew again, I watched the volleyball whiz by my face. Talaia had hit it! The tall boy slapped it back with ease, and I found myself instinctively leaping upwards to knock it back to them. Hearing Talaia cheering behind me was very reassuring. Suddenly the shorter boy on the other side managed to shoot it towards Talaia and I watched her fumble backwards to reach it. Running swiftly, I got to the ball before she did and slammed the palm of my hand into it. This time, the ball went towards the skinny girl on the other side. She jumped and skidded backwards, but the ball bounced off of the ground before she could hit it back to us.
I saw anger in the eyes of the other boy as he realized that in our messy game of 'volleyball', this was the last round. He glared at me; I gulped and took a step backwards. The ball whizzed above the net and I ran back to leap for it, but the boy hit it over my head. Turning back around, I cheered loudly as Talaia bumped it back over the net. The thin girl struggled to get the volleyball over to us again. Holding my breath, I watched her trip and land on her back while the ball touched the ground.
"The winners are...Talaia and Anne!" The coach announced. Even though I had said I didn't want to make friends, Talaia and I gave one another high-fives. The tall dark boy on the other side of the net was fuming along with his friends.
I was laughing good-heartedly, "That was brilliant!" Talaia grinned and nodded in response, obviously as pumped up as me. "Wait- how long did that take?" Abandoning our happy moment, I looked at the coach, worrying about class schedules.
The coach glanced down at his watch, "we're leaving in five minutes." My heart sank. That meant MATH was just a few minutes away. If Talaia really was in that class, too, would I get too close to friendship? Worry crept along my spine. What if I decided to stay in the horrid place of Jackson just because I made one, single friend?
"You are really good at volleyball- even our messy version!" Talaia commented, coming to stand at my shoulder. I grunted, determined not to be her friend.
"Better than you." I mumbled. Really? Was that all I could come up with?
Instead of acting hurt, Talaia burst out laughing, "You're hilarious! I can tell you don't mean it. What's up?" I narrowed my eyes at her, wondering whether or not I should tell her the truth. Eventually I told her the story, starting with my mother needing a new husband to me ending up here, not wanting to be stuck because of friends. Talaia was sympathetic, "I came here from Hiccup. It was a very nice city, if you haven't heard of it before. My mother's husband attempted to murder her and so she, having escaped unharmed, called the police and took me here, to Jackson." I stared at her with wide eyes.
"Oh my goodness! I'm so sorry--"
"Nah, don't be! I'm A-okay." Talaia interrupted; I could tell she was lying, though, because her voice shook greater with each word. I was trying my hardest not to walk forward and hug her. Relief spread through me from head to toes when the bell rang and Talaia grabbed my hand. "Come on! We don't want to be late for class!"
"But we have five minutes!" I exclaimed, genuinely puzzled at Talaia's urgency. She looked at me funny and shook her head slowly.
"Just come on." She whispered, beginning to run and drag me with her out of the gym. When we reached the door, Talaia skidded to a stop. "No running in the halls!" She giggled to herself, while I, noticing that there was a sign that said just that on the door, laughed at the thought that Talaia was reading out loud.
After a while of walking down the hall with Talaia, she turned to me. "What?" I inquired, a puzzled look on my face, "What are you doing?" She smirked.
"Close your eyes!" I did just that and let her guide me who knows where for another minute. Eventually she stopped walking again and lifted her hands from my shoulders. "Open them." Talaia whispered in my ear. I opened my eyes, stunned into silence by my new surroundings. Shelves upon shelves were lined with books; they themselves lined the walls of the room Talaia had brought me to stand in. Struggling to stay interested in the library was hard, though, because I wasn't a big fan of reading. Before long I straightened my face and glanced at her.
"Sorry, was this what you wanted to show me?" I hated the look of distress on Talaia's face, but how could I help the fact that I wasn't very interested? She nodded slowly and I shrugged. "Thanks, it looks really... big."
"Yeah..." Talaia obviously felt awkward. I suddenly lifted my head swiftly and she read my mind, "Ah! We'd better not be late for class!" Looking at her watch, Talaia mumbled, "And with only two minutes left..."
We sort of half ran, half walked in the direction of math class. We stepped into the classroom just as the bell rang, huffing and puffing but laughing at our weirdness anyway. The teacher looked up and studied me, "You must be the new girl."
"Anne," I told her. She smiled in greeting, waving a hand at the seat next to the one Talaia had just sat in. "Oh, can I really sit there?" I asked in shock; at my old school, we had never been allowed to sit next to friends. The teacher nodded, looking a tad bit confused.
"Of course, she's your friend, right?" I nodded in response to her question, sitting next to Talaia. The teacher wrote her name on the board, Ms. Green. Besides that moment, I didn't really pay attention to math class. Time seemed to pass by in super speed, with me only catching teacher's names and pieces of information that Talaia tried to talk to me about. Exhaustion crept over and I had to struggle to stay awake during the boring classes. At last, when I found myself exiting track, I realized that at my old school, the kids had a way of making it more fun. Here, it was just lame.
Talaia rested a hand on my shoulder to stop me on our way back from track. I turned to glance at her, sweat still dripping from my forehead and chin, when she questioned me, "What's wrong? You've been acting pretty wierd since math class." I shrugged, looking away and purposefully avoiding her gaze.
Thoughts swarmed my head, "It's nothing. Just... it isn't the same being here and not my old school. Yeah, I have you as a friend, but I lost all my old friends. Everything feels like it's turning upside down, and it seems the only way to get out of it is to rewind. Return to my old home." I felt arms wrap themselves around my waist and I turned my head again to see Talaia hugging me, sweat on her cheek. I smiled, resting my forehead on her shoulder. After a few moments, we detached ourselves from each other. That was when I noticed the sweat on Talaia's face was actually fresh tears.
"You know, you can stay here. I'll be with you every step of the way." Talaia told me warmly, taking a step backwards as if she would leave for the bus at any moment.
Taking a look at my surroundings, the long hall, easygoing structure, kids running around and laughing, and finally, the best friend a girl could have, Talaia, I found myself responding in a small voice, "Yeah, I'd like that." We accompanied each other until we boarded the bus and had to go to our separate assigned seats. I kept glancing at the kid I had sat by my first time on the bus, the big bully, since I was forced to make this my assigned seat, but he only looked back grimly.
Eventually, the boy said something, "Hey, I saw you hanging out with Talaia, and I just wanted to say... I'm sorry about this morning."
"What do you mean?" I tilted my head.
"Talaia is my sister." I gasped as he said this, finally noticing the resemblance, "And any friend of my little sister's is my own. If you ever need anything, I'll be here to..." He obviously looked uncomfortable and I grinned.
I finished the sentence for him, watching him nod in a sort of gratitude, "protect me?" Laughter escaped my mouth, "Okay, if I need it, thank you. What's your name?"
"It's Rey." The boy, Rey, responded just as the bus pulled to a stop. I peered past him to look out the window, immediately spotting the driveway up to the green screen door. My mother was sitting on the porch. I waved to Rey, clutched my backpack strings, and ran out of the bus to join my mother.
The wind whips through my hair, startling the bronze tips and scattering my thoughts like birds when Winter is about to arrive. Although it is cold, the view is spectacular. Soothing birdsong echoes through the tree branches, soft, green grass brushes against my legs, the beautiful sunset dazzles my eyes, and fluffy clouds hug the ground.
"Anne?" The voice of my mom hurls me out of my thoughts. She is sitting in her rocking chair at my shoulder with an inquisitive expression on her face. Then, I realize she is waiting for an answer to the question I hadn't caught.
"Uh...sorry, what was that?"
My mother looks towards the view as well, deliberately avoiding my gaze, "do you want to move?" Shock immediately replaces the contentment my look had portrayed. I notice I had forgotten to tell or text my mother about my change of mind.
"No!" I yell; I had made up my mind after all the good events.
"Oh...y-you had said--"
My mother continues to stare at me sympathetically for a few moments before standing up from her rocking chair, "alrighty then, I guess we'll rearrange the plans." I watch as she walks back inside the house, slowly and steadily. I wait until the green screen door slams behind her, and then return my gaze to the enchanting scenery