by Harmony Button
I was in the back of the bus, and I didn’t know when to get off. I couldn’t see out the front — there were too many kids in the way — but the houses and trees I could glimpse looked familiar. I pulled the yellow cord above the window — the bell went ‘dink!’ — and I began to gather my things. That’s when I realized that I was holding an open can of Strongbow Hard Cider: cold, delicious, totally-illegal-in-a-moving-vehicle-because-it’s-quite-alcoholic cider.
I had to drink it before anybody noticed! — but the bus was already coming to a halt, so I poured the perfectly golden bubbly brew into the two potted trees that I was (suddenly) carrying. It fizzed into the soil and I was sad, but I threw my beach umbrella over my shoulder, held my three-hole punch under my armpit (because you can’t leave those things laying around — they get “borrowed” if you turn your back and you’ll never see them again) and picked up a tree in each hand.
I had to get off that bus.
The driver’s eyes flicked up to his mirror, impatiently. I was trying to make my way down the aisle, but the trees were unruly and difficult to carry. Their drooping branches blundered into other people, catching in hair and smacking at faces. My potted trees were drunkards.
The bus driver asked who had signaled for the stop. Me! I shouted. I’m coming! But there was too much noise. He didn’t hear me. The other kids watched me struggle, their faces blank and pitiless. The bus started rolling forward, past my parents’ house.
Wait! I called. But it was too late.