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The rain poured down in heavy waves, windless but still loud. Sage stared out into her backyard, her breath fogging up the bay window. Puddles pooled in the grass, murky and dark, like spots on a great, green hairy beast. She absentmindedly made shapes with her finger on the cool glass, thinking of Blake. Yet again today she stood by the water fountain he always passed by on his way to physics, and yet again he nodded his head in a silent “hello,” and yet again another chance passed. She had been trying for weeks now, and couldn’t bring herself to do it. “Isn’t that supposed to be the guy’s job?” she thought to herself. She lightly tapped one of the glass diamonds hanging in front of the window, sending it twirling helplessly.
There were a lot of things hanging in front of the window; dream catchers, dried flowers, leftover paper snowflakes from winter…but Sage’s favorite were the bits of glass. There were broken colorful chunks she sometimes found walking home, some sea glass from the beach, and some pieces she bought specifically to reflect the sunlight coming into her room to cast mini rainbows all around. She hung each piece she found on a long string as decoration. The bay window had a padded bench that she sat at often, reflecting on her day as the glass reflected the light. Lately the area has been filled with thoughts of Blake, and how nothing ever seemed to change between them.
They were in psychology together, sat next to each other actually. He commented on her name the first day of class. “Isn’t that like a herb or something?” He pronounced the “h,” which of course resulted in her writing him off as a total idiot. He didn’t win any points by making obnoxious comments about the teacher and how everything they learned in class was “so pointless.” Every day she trudged to seventh period, bracing herself for lots of eye rolling and heavy sighs of frustration. Sage remembered one class when they were learning about the hemispheres of the brain, he had been doodling a zombie with its brain exposed, and she couldn’t resist a giggle. He looked at her and grinned. For the rest of class they drew different animals zombified. She knew it was stupid and immature, but she had fun for the first time ever in that class.
From then on, she realized that she liked the stupid comments, laughed at the cracks about the teacher’s new haircut, and found herself looking for him when she got to class, hoping he was in school. He made the class interesting, she had to admit. And he had a certain charm around him that made her want to be closer to him. The maddening part was that she couldn’t tell if he was flirting or just trying to survive the class with her. Sage sighed and rolled off the cushion and onto the floor, staring at the ceiling to a Johnny Depp poster.
Sage blinked, disoriented. Her alarm was going off, but not where it usually was, next to her on the nightstand. She flailed one of her arms around, hoping to make contact, but found herself just knocking over a pile of clothing she had left on the floor.”Great, I fell asleep on the floor again,” Sage thought, as she slowly got up to silence the demon alarm clock.
She got ready for school in record time, and ended up having to sit on the couch for fifteen minutes before the bus came, bouncing with nervous energy. Today was the day she promised herself that she would sit next to Blake on the bus. When the bus finally arrived, Sage grinned uncontrollably. Blake’s friends didn’t get on until after her stop, so he usually sat alone until they came on. This was her chance. If he wasn’t going to make the first move, then she was. Sage briskly walked down her sidewalk, telling herself to remove the silly grin so she didn’t look mentally insane. The sidewalks were icy because of last night’s rain and Sage slipped, catching herself before she fell. The bus doors swung open, and the chatter of over twenty noisy high schoolers greeted her. Sage climbed the stairs into the bus and stared down the aisle for Blake. There he was, staring out the window, clearly bored. His light brown hair reflected the weak morning sun, making him appear to glow. The freckles along his nose and cheeks made him effortlessly adorable, and when paired with his sea green eyes, she had to keep herself from running to him. Sage walked towards him with determination and plopped down next to him. “Hey,” she grinned.
“Hey,” he grinned back. “Nice fall out there.”
Sage burned red. “I didn’t fall, I slipped. It was icy!”
Blake laughed and said, “I know, just giving you a hard time. So what brings you to this side of the bus?”
Sage blabbered on about wanting “a change of scenery” which he miraculously bought. They talked about their plans for April break, or lack of, which gave Sage the perfect gateway. “We should hang out then,” she suggested, a hopeful smile on her face. “Maybe draw some zombies.” He nodded and agreed, then put his phone in her hands.
“What’s your number? I’ll text you when I’m free so we can hang.” Sage’s jaw scraped the floor of the bus. She quickly composed herself and put her number into his phone with a smiley face next to her contact name. Out of nowhere, the bus made a sharp turn and Sage went sliding into Blake, way into his personal space. Embarrassed, Sage began to apologize profusely, turning red all over again. Her pathetic groveling was interrupted by the bus driver calling out, “Sorry all. It’s a wee bit slippery out there and these tires aren’t gripping well. Be prepared for more of that.”
“Wonderful,” Sage said sarcastically under her breath.
“What, do I smell that bad?” Blake said, faking an expression of hurt and sniffing his pits. Before Sage even had a chance to laugh, the bus turned down the hill to Blake’s friend’s stop. It was steep and long, and covered in ice. They silently exchanged looks.
The bus was intensely quiet as the driver rode the breaks down the first hundred feet of the slope. Sage’s hands were clenched into tight fists, her knuckles turning white. Stupid thoughts ran through her head. Did she say “I love you” to her mom when she left? Did she finish the bookwork for history? School should have been delayed. Suddenly the bus started flying with more than half the hill left. Trees with branches heavy with icy whisked by, hitting the windows hard and making loud shattering sounds. The bus driver franticly turned the steering wheel so they were going sideways, hoping to slow the bus from its rapid decent.
It didn’t work.
Tipping, only on two wheels. Screeching of strained metal. Whirling of tires trying to find purchase in the air. Screaming. A warm hand in hers. Crash.
They were pinned under the roof of the bus. Which way was up? Sage couldn’t turn her head to see who was alright. She heard relentless sobbing coming from her left. There was no sound coming from her right. “Blake?” she tried to call, but choked on a mouthful of rusty blood. Her tongue throbbed and it hurt to swallow. She tried to spit the blood away, which only stung more, bringing fierce tears to her eyes. She twisted her body to try to see if Blake was ok. To her horror, a huge piece of glass was puncturing her thigh, but amazingly enough she barely felt it. She wasn’t able to see Blake. She fought back the tears and shouted with all she could, “Blake!” There was again no response. Sage made one last desperate attempt to turn her head to see him, and almost blacked out from pain. She succeeded in facing him, but wished she hadn’t.
Blake was covered in blood. His forehead had a huge gash, and his light brown hair was now dark with blood. The adorable freckles on his face were now overpowered by the flecks of blood that were scattered along it. His right arm with twisted in a horrible position and his left was still somehow grasping Sage’s hand. His chest rose and fell in off beats, never in the same number of counts. His breath was raspy and his eyes were shut. Bloody glass covered his body. Tears were now streaming freely down Sage’s face.
His breathing stopped. His grip loosened. The scream of emergency vehicles harmonized with her screams of anguish. The broken glass from the window of the bus cast rainbows all over the bloody seats.