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Bus Ride This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The Greyhound window was spattered and streaked with the grimy grit of unknown, unchartered miles and the muted orange velour seat squawked as she shifted her weight. Her head leaned against the window and she impassively stared at the depressed landscape. Glamour was resting on her acid washed lap. The beautiful face on the cover was marred by the ashes she flicked from her Camel.

She contemplated the pyramids on the crumpled pack. A pyramid certainly wasn't in her future. She was destined to a palm. The final depot was Fort Lauderdale, the only paradise she could afford, and the only place other than her home state of Michigan that she had visited. Two years ago, she, Karen and Liz had splurged on a spring break trip to Fort Lauderdale. It had been her first trip on a plane. This time it was a little less elegant.

The bus stopped for nothing; certainly not memories. The wheels beat out their counter-clockwise syncopation. The wheels on the bus go round and round turning back clock hands. Rapidly approaching was the incandescent orange and red of the Burger King sign; the only one in Wicaska.

* * *

"Stacey, what do you want? A Whopper?"

"Yeah, I guess so. Brian, are you sure you have money?"

"Yup. Dickerson just paid me. Wanna go over and grab the table?"

She wandered over to a booth and shrugged off Brian's jacket. She put her purse on the beige formica table with fine orange veins running through it and rummaged for her comb, the purple one. She finished teasing her bangs just as Brian sat down with the food.

"So, Stace, what's up? You were acting kind of weird on the way over. What's the deal?"

She cringed. How many times had she practiced telling him. Now she sat there, mute.

"Stace?"

She remembered how Karen had gone through the same thing last January and her boyfriend had ditched her. At least she was sure that Brian wouldn't be anything like that.

"Okay, Brian. Remember Kevin Johnson's party?"

"ACourse I do. One of the biggest of the year."

"Right. Great party. Three months ago. It's the closest I can come to a day."

"Come to what day? All I remember is that we had an amazing time that night in the van."

"Yeah. That's kind of what I'm talking about. Remember what happened to Karen and Bonz last winter?"

"Yeah."

"For heaven's sake, Brian. Do you think she planned it? Do you think I planned it that way?"

She felt like she was watching "Days of Our Lives" as he stormed out of the Burger King, knocking the tray off the table as he left. She yanked up her purse and started to go after him; but she stopped when she heard the unmufflered roar of the Chevelle.

As she put on her jacket and headed home she realized that the only person who could help her was her mother.

* * *

The bus rolled on and she lit up another Camel. She finished reading an article about the impenetrable bond that mothers and daughters share. Definitely niive, she thought. Her gaze turned again to the scenery; but she quickly had to avert her eyes as they passed the turnoff for Brandywine Road, home for eighteen years.

* * *

"Stacey, you don't understand the responsibility of having a child. It's not just a toy. And Brian won't be there to help. You haven't finished high school. What kind of job do you expect to find? Your father and I have raised our own children; we're certainly not going to support a child."

"But, Mom ..."

"Stacey, it breaks my heart to say this to you. Frankly, I always thought you were smarter than this. Never did your father or I think that you could go and do something like this. Our whole family is disgraced by this. How will your father and I be able to hold our heads up in church when everyone will know that we raised a daughter who's no better than a street walker? We simply can't support you. You're not our little girl anymore.

The woman across the aisle asked to borrow a cigarette. She sifted through Glamour again, stopping to examine an article. For the first few days she thought she could probably stay some place like a Howard Johnson's. She was pretty sure that a city like Fort Lauderdale would have some free clinics or something. It wouldn't be so bad. And she could keep a tan all year round. There were so many hotels that it was probably really easy to get a job. The green highway sign overhead said they were nearing Lenore. Fifty more miles and she'd be out of Michigan. Forever? Maybe. No, she knew that if she made it out of Michigan there'd be no way back. She still couldn't believe her parents. Her father wouldn't even talk to her. That's why she left without saying good-bye. She stared out the window and was lulled by the rhythmic turning of the wheels. The blurs of cars whizzing by below the bus began to hypnotize her. The spell was broken by a familiar blue streak that halted time. She heard the roar of the engine and did not bother to look at the driver, but she took note of the long hair waving out of the passenger window. Her watch read 3: 40; but it didn't matter. No one was expecting her. n

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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