A vivid light glared through the window and upon my cheeks. I fluttered my eyelids open to find myself in between canyons of sandstone sculptures, chiseled by gods themselves. The stunning scenery was stimulating; cliffs of red sandstone layered so delicately beside the Colorado River.
Our sturdy Subaru rolled along the hairpin turns and through narrow tunnels, avoiding the everlasting drop into the river one on side. My fist tightened and goosebumps protruded from my limbs, not from the possibility of a fatal crash into the thunderous river, but because my mom, my younger sister Ember, and I were moving from South Dakota, the only state I’ve ever known. I heard wondrous insight about the town, Moab. I imagined the new things Moab would bring to me; friends, the year-round heat, welcoming people, and the exciting places to be explored. As thoughts of serenity circled through my mind, the calming warmth overtook my body and I drifted back to sleep.
My poor mother had to drag my tenacious sister and I to school; we were like two dogs avoiding euthanasia shots. My mom won the battles though, she was exemplary and we followed her every footstep, even my sister, whose legs were too short to follow my mom’s graceful stride. Like the evanescent darkness when the sun rises, my mothers name is Dawn, and she keeps our hearts loving and our thoughts positive. A life without her would be like an earth with no sun, lonesome and uninhabitable.
I rushed to my mother arms open, and a smile wide enough it could fit a whole cake inside. I had spent my day learning things, meeting other children, but mainly wishing I could go home to my mom. She led us to the Subaru; we followed behind like diligent baby ducklings.
Our vibrant blue home appeared down the highway. It was parked across from the raging Colorado River, which was at its highest level and speed because of the recent snowmelt in the surrounding mountains. My gaze was drawn from the river to our home. Our home was a bus, a bright blue school bus. Some of my classmates didn’t believe I lived in a school bus. They’d repeat, “yeah right, that’s not allowed!”
I’d ponder, “who doesn’t allow it?”
The bus was our home, like any other. A kitchen, bunk beds for my sister and I, an art studio for my mom’s passion, and a large, circular table sat next to the television, filling the inside of the bus like a soft, delicate cream puff. The only absent necessity was a bathroom; instead, we used an outhouse.
It was my turn to dump out the bucket from the outhouse. My faced crinkled in disgust as the putrid smell from the bucket engulfed my thoughts. “Why can’t I live in some royal palace, or at least a real house?” I continuously contemplated. But this was my home, my nirvana; I lived with my mother and sister, the only people I couldn’t part from.
After three months of living in the bus, the sleek silver car curved around the bend, and drove into our gravel driveway. A stout woman inched out of her seat and placed her heels stiffly onto the ground. A bright nametag stuck to her chest promptly read, Social Services Worker. “Can I speak to your parents?” she asked. “Sure, let me find her,” I replied. I ran inside the bus and to my mom’s art studio. I found her working on a painting of the canyon we lived in; the bus and the river were the main subjects. I tugged on her arm and she followed me outside to the woman, “go inside please,” my mom ordered.
The Social Worker toured our home, the outhouse, the kitchen, the bunk beds we made ourselves, and the art studio. After she had her fill of our personal life, she stated, “Oh, there is nothing to worry about,” then she turned her back with a smile and left.
A few days later, my dad drove down from Idaho. My excitement was relentless as I held onto him with every ounce of my strength. I couldn’t help but feel worried though, “why are you here?”
His words penetrated my soul like shards of ice and my grinning face turned to one of disappointment. “You are coming to live with me in Idaho.” I wanted to stay with my mom and Ember. They were my precious gifts; the only gifts life had given me other than the chance to live.
I looked to my mom for a response, or the words that said I didn’t have to leave. Her eyes met mine. A single tear rolled down her quivering cheek, “I’m sorry, but both you and Ember have to leave, Ember will go with her dad if he comes. The government thinks you’d be better off living with them, instead of in the bus.” The Social Worker lied.
I packed my belongings in my purple suitcase dotted with daisies. My mother took our hands and led us out of the bus. “Remember, I will always be here to guide you, I will forever be your mom. I love you.” We stood watching each other until I looked away; I didn’t want them to see my red eyes and sorrowful tears.
I stepped into my dad’s car and lugged my suitcase into the empty seat next to me that Ember would normally occupy. But this wasn’t normal. My dad started the car and we began to drive down the gravel driveway, away from the powerful river and the brilliant blue bus I had grown to love. How could they take me from my own mother? From that moment, I would live a life states away from my mother, surrounded by my father and step-mom, but the most alone I’d ever feel. The only life I knew was with my mother and sister, I couldn’t image what would come in the unforeseen future.
Glancing back before we turned around the corner, I saw my mother standing with Ember wrapped in her arms. I longed to be there eternally, with the two people I loved. But then the dazzling sun overtook my view. My world was quickly lost from my eyes.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.