I’ve been MIA for a bit, and I’m sad that’s the case. Since I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I thought I’d be a little more consistent with posts. (We’ll see how that shakes out in reality, but it’s a nice idea.) Here’s a little memory I was thinking about this week. I wonder how it will strike the reader…
Every day of the school year my older sisters walked down the street to the corner where the yellow bus rumbled and roared up the hill, screeching to a stop. Sometimes Mommy and I walked down our street on warm, sunny days to watch them go. Sometimes we walked down the street just before the bus came in the afternoon.
“Soon you’ll get on the bus with your sisters.”
“I will? Ooooh, I want to ride the big bus!”
The bus was the biggest, loudest, yellowest thing I’d ever seen. I heard it long before I saw it. One stop at the bottom of the hill. Our stop at the top. A right turn to stop at the next corner, and two more before it chugged out of the neighborhood.
The next fall, my short legs dangled off the front seat behind the bus driver for the first time.
For years, I waited at the top of the hill for a ride to school. What began with quick, happy skipping in the afternoon eased into a slow drag over the years in the early mornings. No one was in a hurry to get to the bus stop—unless the bus was roaring away to the next. Some years I waited with my older sisters. Eventually, the older kids in the neighborhood claimed one bus stop, and the younger ones were left to the others. Some years I waited with my friend, Lena, alone.
I was about ten or eleven, I think. One day in late November, we waited for the bus, bored. Someone had the brilliant idea of putting me on someone’s shoulders. I wasn’t up there long. I remember seeing the crumbly street rushing up to meet me, up close and personal. Ouch!
The pain was intense. My face throbbed, but the bus was roaring up the hill. No mirror to check my eye and cheek. No time to run home and clean up. Not even enough time to run across the street to Lena’s house. Falling on my face didn’t seem a like good excuse to go back to my house—even if whatever happened made others’ faces look a little horrified. It couldn’t be that big a deal, right? I ducked in the door, hustled up the steps, and slid into a seat, hiding between the tall seats. I only hoped no one would see my pain.
“Do you need to get off the bus and go home?” the driver asked.
“Are you sure? You’re bleeding.”
“No, I’m going to school.”
The bus driver waited to give me a chance to change my mind, then reluctantly pulled away and around the corner.
If I went home there had to be a good reason. Never mind that I was never sure exactly what a good reason might be. My family cultivated tough kids who believed nothing should stop us from moving along. The mindset was different from some. Healing should happen. Maybe before the bus got to school….
Nope, I thought, as I looked in the girls’ bathroom mirror.
Most of my family was in a community theater play that winter: A Christmas Carol. Many weeks before I had belted “It’s a Small World” at the top of my lungs for my audition, and that led to a bit part as a Cratchit kid. Mr. Producer had a very serious look on his face when he saw me at rehearsal that evening after the bus stop incident. With two weeks before our first show, I might need an understudy to take over.
Everyone wanted to know what happened. The attention was just embarrassing. I wanted to crawl into a hole. Yes, I fell on my face! Yes, it hurts! I know it’s ugly!
Two weeks was enough time to heal. At least, it was enough time to allow stage makeup to hide the blemish that was left.
Thanks for reading along as I share bits here and there. I wonder—has anyone else has had something obviously go wrong but tried to pretend there was “nothing to see here”?
Have you done that?
As an adult, I can’t imagine it. Then, it was just the way to move through a day. Strange reasoning in the mind of a young child….