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'Till That Bus Comes
Sometimes it’s “it takes one to know one.” Sometimes things get out of hand, or the mom butts in, or you’re in a bad mood or I’m in a bad mood and then we start yelling. Yelling real loud.
Idiot!, I screech.
Stupid girl, you say.
And then you (‘cause you’re smart, you know, way smarter than me) will start doing that special trick of yours. The one where you read my mind and tell me everything, everything that I don’t want to hear. I’ll scream at you, try to clamp your mouth shut –even though I know you’ll swat me away – because it just isn’t fair.
How come you get to know me inside-out, and I never get to know anything about you other than the color of your socks? (Red, with little stars.)
And when I try to talk to you about it, you just smile your sweet-angel smile and magically procure a Fudgy-Buddy from your sleeve, pop it in my mouth, and that’s the end of that.
We were waiting for the bus, just laughing and swinging our bags when I dropped mine. You picked it up for me, even though you had been cranky and pimply for weeks and weeks. So I thanked you. You smiled, ruffled my hair, put your head close, and spoke in that deep, rumbly voice you were so proud of.
Then I realized so many things.
Your shirt was open two buttons past school regulation, your lips were bow-shaped, hair curled and pretty and thick, cheeks stain-glass-painted a delicate pink. I could feel the heat from your chest vibrating off of you, you were so close.
I don’t remember running, but suddenly I am safely buried within my childhood sheets with Mr. Bunny and my favorite poster Johnny Depp.
I spend all evening comparing him to you. Freaking myself out and shrieking.
I never told you for stupid, stupid reasons. There was never a right moment. It might have been awkward afterwards. I didn’t want to risk our friendship.
Why hadn’t I ever realized, ever even considered the possibility that you might not wait forever?
If I had told you -
If I had told you how I felt, would you have kissed me like that under that umbrella? On that stormy, gusty day?
I pack my suitcases, tape up the boxes, call the moving company, and go down to the old ice cream place for just one last Fudgy-Buddy when I see you, laughing with someone else. I hadn’t planned to tell you I was leaving because we hadn't talked in over a year (and because just for once I wanted to be the heroine and had hoped you would realize your deep, burning passion for me after I disappear into thin air. I had hoped that you would search fruitlessly for me for years, and when we finally do see each other there would be trumpets and fanfare and a magical parting of the crowd), but my resolve broke after seeing you laugh. With her.
I call you right then and there, and you saunter up the street to my house the very next day – moving day. You see me off. We laugh at each other for tearing up, just a little, and I’m glad. So fiercely, fiercely glad because if I can’t have your love, I’ll take your tears.
I think I’m fine, that I’m great, and sometimes I call you up just for the heck of it to prove that I’m over you. I live with Jim now and I don’t need you, ha-ha, you don’t hold my heart anymore.
I have a job. I’m thinking of marriage, kids – I drink coffee in the mornings and wear satin at night and have comfortable, routine sex with a steady boyfriend. I think I’m going places.
Then I get your wedding invitation in the mail and I sit there and read the cover over and over because I can’t even bear to open it. When Jim comes home, he finds me there and asks me what’s going on.
Then I look up with hot wetness in the corner of my eyes and whisper, your voice is so deep. He stares at me strangely while I just shake my head, denying everything about Jim, from the top of his curly head to the two buttons he always wears open. His preternaturally pink cheeks.
I break up with him, pack a suitcase, and catch the next bus home.
You and I are fifteen again, young and fresh and still squeaky-clean. We’re waiting for a bus, and I drop my bag. You pick it up for me again, but this time I don’t run. I stay, and we get closer, inch by inch, until the bus comes rumbling down the gravel.
You get on - I don't. I'm waiting for something, so I screech at you to stay, to wait. The bus doors start closing, and I know I should get on, have to get on, so I start reaching and you catch my arm. Try to lift me up. I try to explain that I'm stuck on the ground with jerky little movements, but you catch my hands and shake your head.
It’s okay, I know what’s wrong, you say. Then you look into my eyes, and speak:
“I love you.”
And finally, finally our lips touch.
It’s not the magical, life-changing moment I thought it would be. It’s awkward, but sweet like Fudgy-Buddies and tastes like coffee. When you exhale, I inhale on accident and we both snort with laughter. The awkwardness disappears like smoke in the air and we grin, hands gravitating towards the other.
Like that – our arms intertwined, breaths mingling, cheeks flushed –you pull me forward, and I get on the bus.
We have regular luncheons now, because you claim that nobody gets you like I do, even when it’s about universally-understood subjects like baseball or complaints about wives. Which is, coincidentally, all you seem to talk about.
She just doesn't understand, you complain. She’s always nagging at me to do something, like shopping for groceries or picking up around the house. I listen, nod my head sympathetically, and sip my tea.
Once, after a particularly brutal wife-bashing session, we were waiting for the bus and I dropped my bag at my feet. You didn’t notice. I picked it up myself.
When the bus came, you got on and I didn’t. Said I was waiting for a different one.
I’m still waiting for that bus.