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The Bus This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

We all wait together. We all stand united, stating what we will about whatever we can, but we do not say anything that is worth saying. It is too early in the morning for that. Instead, we gibber and rant about how early it is, how hungry we are, how much homework we have, and the teachers who made our lives “soooo miserable”.We fill the air with words, repeating each other like a clock repeats it’s ticking seconds. Our shoes tap impatiently against a curb stained with skateboard skids and rude remarks. The older ones who do not drive roll their eyes at the younger ones. The older ones judge instead of befriend those who are younger than us, as if we have anything figured out. They will soon realize, to their disliking, that we do not. That a judgmental snicker at a fourteen year old will destroy any hope of being humble. Regardless, we all pretend we know what we are doing. And as the big bright machine rolls up to our stop, we are the first ones to get on. If there is anything I know how to do, it is how to march up steps streaked of yellow and gray, worn away by the shoes of preteens and teens alike.

My fingertips graze each dark brown wrinkly seat as I walk down the aisle to my own, that I seemed to have committed my high school life to. The vibration hums our song as I arrive to my betrothed bench, one that is right in the middle. The number 13 hangs above it in black print, popping out against the silver walls that hold us in. Above each number is a piece of blue duct tape with black marker. Each piece of tape has a name engraved onto it with pungent sharpie. Names read “Zach”, “Nathan”, “Alexa”. There is no one on this bus named Zach, Nathan, or Alexa. These are the names of the kids who take the bus an hour later than we do. Kids who can fit all their worries into a broken crayon or wrinkled coloring book pages. Kids who do not worry about their first kiss, and in fact, avoid it at all costs. Kids who only have to worry about where they sit on the bus. I am envious of Zach, Nathan, and Alexa, even though I do not know them. I am envious of their assigned seating, or of the fact that the only “black and blue” they know of is black marker on blue duct tape. They will learn soon enough, as I did. Zach will learn that, as much as the drivers would like it, there is no assigned seating in the “big kids bus”. There cannot be. Yet we still seem to get into our routine, and my seat number thirteen can attest to that. As I sit down, I hike up my knees until they rest firmly on the warm leather in front of me. He will also learn that you make friends with the people you travel with. My good friend Frankie rests his legs beside me as he slides in from the aisle. He mimics my movement and plants his knees next to mine at the top of the seat. We both mutter a “hello” and place headphones in our ears to listen to our own personal soundtrack. Finally, Zach will learn to appreciate the silence of hearing music that is not 99.9 KEZ radio, which quietly crones through the speakers, as if Ke$ha is a silent buzz in his ear.

I look onto the road and see the street speed towards me, as if I am the one staying still and it is moving. It is amazing how Nathan will be hyped up for his days of school, but as the years go on, he can start to feel isolated on a ride full of people. I listen to the rumbling of the wheels on the bus going round and round, like boulders rolling down mountains. Everyone around me is hustling and bustling as I rest my head against a glass pillow, a hot window. The metal of the bus makes a lukewarm border that my forehead melts onto as I rest my eyes. I then look up to the white ceiling that was hugged with a coat of dust. Some hands have touched the roof of this cave. Nathan might try to leave his own small fingerprint marks, but his height is an obstacle that he is not able to overcome. The teens have been able to reach it, but we get dirty stares instead of dirty fingers.

Some days, however, I become observant and see the hard work that is put into my own education, as proved by my many assignments. The quiver of the bus rolling down long roads does not help me try to complete them. My l’s become a squiggly line and my t’s become too curvy. I am silently angry at myself as I write quickly. A fifteen-minute ride now seems too short, and the deadline is too soon. I am not ready, but the bus is always my friend, pushing me to my destination.

Alexa will eventually have to deal with this too. She will have to deal with the bumps of the bus as she loads mascara onto her eyelashes, watching white lines outline the road like she aligns eyeliner to her eyes. Or she will apply too much blush as the bus starts to make a turn, afraid that it is going so obnoxiously slow it might just stop in the middle of the intersection. The car loaded with students now comes to a screeching halt at a beaming red light, and I can hear the smoke exhaust from below us. I remember that the bus will be her friend too.

I now can taste the iron of this yellow metal passage system, and I see the black sharpie on blue duct tape starting to unstuck above my seat number 13. In the morning, Zach will rest his head on the pulse of the bus or the pulse of another. Nathan will sleep for minutes to make up for the hours he lacks. Alexa will hear pencils dancing furiously on paper, a syncopated beat always starting and stopping. Just like me, they will feel the bus start and stop and watch the neighborhoods of other children zoom right past them. Afterschool though, the bus becomes an oven for big kids and small kids alike. We all rise like bread as we talk to each other about our day. In this long rectangular toaster, we are awaken by the screechy wheels, and worn down by screeching students. No matter what happens in between, thanks to district transportation, we are united. We begin and end the day with each other.



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Bryn B. This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 14, 2013 at 5:33 pm:
Thank you for writing this, it's beautiful. "Kids who can fit all their worries into a broken crayon or wrinkled coloring book pages." Perfection.
 
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