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Riding Forever

The world was ending around them, but they rode on in silence.
It was a simple, yellow-orange school bus with torn leather seats and a floor covered by sand, dirt, and crumbs. It rumbled down the highway with the suppressed roar of a defeated tiger, and no one gave it more than a passing glance.
They sat inside, one to a seat, two to a seat, in the near silence of truly fallen night. It was not like this on the first ride; they first ride was loud and anxious. Now they sit spread randomly around the bus; before, the freshmen sat together in the front, JV in the middle, varsity comfortably in the back. Before, they wrote messages on foggy windows; now they rest their hooded heads against the cold winter glass and watch the passing world.
The rocks and trees roll by in silent majesty by the side of the nighttime highway. They stand in shadow, only visible by the countless stars and the crescent moon in the domed, blue-black sky, and the soft light of headlights, cell phones, Kindles, and Apple devices.
They sit near the back, two of them, wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts. One wears athletic flip flops, the other well-worn running shoes. One presses her knees against the back of the seat one row ahead; the other leans her hooded head against the glass, watching the forever rocks and forever trees and occasional green and silver sign. She turns her orange-hooded head to her friend, contemplating whether or not to break the delicate silence. "Yes," she decides, watching her tired companion.
"Don't you feel like you could ride this bus forever?" she asks in a murmur that carries only to her gray-hooded friend.
"Yeah," her friend replies with a nod as they meet eyes.
They talk for another minute, or two, or five as the trees roll by. And then, as the house lights of civilization become visible in the distance, she rests her head against the window glass for a final few moments of perfection.





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