The Bus Ride

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
March/April 2001

By Christine Nichols, Illustrated by Jill Cooley

It was Wednesday afternoon. I sat waiting anxiously at my desk. It was almost time to leave school. That meant it was almost time to go on the bus. I hated the bus. Big sixth-graders sat in the back. They always bullied us third-graders. Butterflies began forming in my stomach as I quickly jogged to my locker.

Today, I was late. It was my turn to clean the chalkboard. I grabbed my books out of my locker and shoved them into my bag. The halls were deserted except for a few kids hurrying to the door. As I walked out into the warm May sunshine, my fear ceased for a moment as I enjoyed the beautiful afternoon; but it left as soon as it came when I spotted the bus.

When I climbed the big, black steps onto the bus, I prayed that there would be an empty seat left up front; but there wasn’t. Every single seat was filled with two people. I walked toward the back hoping to find an empty seat. The kids around me were happily talking; I wished I could be one of them. Why, why wasn’t there an empty seat? It wasn’t fair. Suddenly I spotted an empty seat. The only problem was, it was right smack in the middle of the sixth-graders. I tried to look around me for another place to sit, but there was none. The bus started moving so I had to sit down.

The radio was playing “Bye, Bye, Bye” by ‘N Sync. All of the sixth-grade girls around me started singing, while the boys were groaning. Happily, I sat back in my seat. None of them had noticed me yet.

The Bus Ride children in a bus

She gave me a big hug and said, “You can stop crying now, it will be OK”

As we were getting off the highway, the boy sitting in front of me turned around. He had one green eye and one blue. His blond hair hung over his eyes as if to hide them.

“Hey, what are you doing back here? The back of the bus is for sixth-graders only.” At first, I didn’t know what to say. Then, I realized I should just tell the truth.

“I had to stay after school and clean the chalkboard, which made me late, and there was nowhere else to sit by the time I got here.”

“So, you’re a teacher’s pet? I don’t like teachers’ pets; in fact, I hate teachers’ pets!”

I wished that someone would help me, that the bus driver would hear what was going on; but he didn’t. By now, everybody in the back of the bus was quiet, waiting for the boy’s next move. Or perhaps, they simply did not want to get involved.

“I like your little baby overalls and your pink flowered shirt. Who picked them out for you? Your mommy? I bet you wish she was here right now, don’t you, don’t you?”

That was the last straw. I had been so nervous for so long that I started to cry. Tears were streaming down my face that reminded me of a warm spring rain. I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to stop and fight back but I couldn’t.

Just when I thought I couldn’t cry anymore, a tall blond-haired, blue-eyed girl wearing practically the same outfit as me sat down next to me. She gave me a big hug and said, “You can stop crying now, it will be OK.”

She turned to the boy and said, “Stop picking on innocent little girls. She told you why she sat back here; I’m sure she would have sat up front if she could have. As for her outfit, I’m wearing practically the same thing and I don’t look like a baby, do I?”

The boy just sat there stunned. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. People around us started cheering for this mysterious girl sitting next to me. The boy slumped down into his seat.

The rest of the bus ride home the girl (named Hannah) and I became quick friends. When I got off the bus that afternoon I was on top of the world.

The Bus Ride Christine Nichols

Christine Nichols, 13
Concord, New Hampshire

The Bus Ride Jill Cooley

Jill Cooley, 13
Burlington, Massachusetts

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