Writer Author  Hilarey Johnson
Christian Article : Family  - Fiction  Yes

Christian Author Writer The bus rumbled beneath the dark-eyed girl as gray-blue puffs of smoke escaped the tail pipe. Passengers stopped fidgeting with anticipation and settled into their seats. Finally the bus lurched forward but within a moment they were stopped again. After all of the waiting she just wanted to drive. What is the holdup now? It was only a stoplight. It would be all right once they reached the freeway. There wouldn’t be any stops, just the monotonous sound of the engine.

The girl looked out her window at the passers-by. While they gazed at the bus, many had the same longing look in their eyes that she had felt for such a long time. But this time she was the one staring out of the tinted glass. She was glad to be leaving although you couldn’t tell by the way she clung to her coat like a small child carrying a security blanket. She didn’t resemble a seventeen-year-old, wise in the ways of the world. Two seats in front of her and to the left a woman tried to calm an infant. The babe responded to its mother’s voice and the dark-eyed girl glared at an old man who was scowling and grumbling about the baby. She was tired of the intolerance and tired of the apathy. How long had it been since she had experienced acceptance? How long since someone had called her by her name? How long since she had been loved? Had she ever? She hadn’t even observed real love between others for such a long time, she was wondering if it existed at all. Unconditional love was probably just an empty phrase. The mother’s lips were pressed close to the infant’s ears. She continued to rock and whisper long after the babe slept peacefully. The girl watched the exchange and began to challenge the simplicity of their love. After all, people have babies for selfish reasons, and when it grows up it will probably hate its mother. Maybe even do what I have done.

What have I done? She began to retort. She had only wanted to see what the world had to offer. Offer, ha! She thought sarcastically. All the world does is take. Take until you are empty, and when you have nothing else but hope, they take that too. They offer lies to suck you in, wanting you to be as miserable as they are. Bitter are the thoughts of someone all used up. What am I going back to? What do I expect? Ah, who cares? She resolved. When I still had a fleck of remaining dignity I wouldn’t even have entertained a thought of returning. Now I have nothing left to lose. If I am turned away I will not be any worse off. But I have to make sure. What if I will be accepted back home? I would rather take a chance than end up having been horribly wrong. I have so much more to gain than I stand to lose.

The bus jerked forward and backward, stopping and starting again. The journey was less painful than she had thought it would be. Once she had started it seemed to feel right. Really, the decision had been the worst part.

At the bus stop passengers exited and scattered to the nearby convenience stores and food vendors with a strict warning of departure time. A young man slid into the vacant seat beside the dark-eyed girl and asked for a cigarette. She looked at him and all she could see was the emptiness she had seen in so many others. The dark-eyed girl wondered if he was interested in her and how long it would be before he realized she had nothing left to give, and even if she did have something left, it wasn’t what he was looking for.

“I don’t.” she mimicked the look she had seen in predators on the street, hoping he would fall for her bluff.

“You don’t have one, or- or you don’t want to share it?” but it was too late. His voice had faltered and she walked away without looking back. She didn’t need to; she had ended the conversation before he spoke. Tightness in her stomach told her she needed to eat. Digging deep into her pocket she pretended she might find an overlooked dollar. Of course there wasn’t. She used every cent she had to buy the bus fare, including a dime she spotted laying on the ground near the ticket window. She didn’t have a single coin left; never had she experienced such emptiness. People began to return to their previous seats. No one wanted to disrupt the familiarity and sit somewhere new; they sat in their same places. Everyone that is, except the old man who wouldn’t tolerate being near the infant any longer. He moved to the front of the bus. The dark-eyed girl wiggled in her chair willing herself not to smell the stench of ketchup a man had brought aboard with his fries. Lapsing in and out of sleep she had visions of a simpler time. Laughing, parks, homework, they blurred together. Running outside, the smell of water on hot asphalt, newly mown grass, the first bite of ice cream, the last bite of ice cream. There was a common pleasure in it all. The trust of a child, the ignorance of a child, that was were she longed to be again.

Finally her stop came, the dark-eyed girl pretended she knew exactly where she was going and confidently exited the bus station. One would not know from such a purposeful stride that she had no ride from the bus station and no money to call for one. Oh well, she mused, the day is early yet, and my load is light. In fact, she was empty-handed since she forgot her coat when she got out to stretch her legs at the last stop.

It wasn’t long before fatigue seemed to overwhelm her during the journey home. Just when it seemed to be too much, she rounded the corner to the most familiar street. Nostalgia brought tears burning in her eyes. So what if I cry in front of everyone? She stubbornly refused to hide her tears. Who is here to see? There is only that woman in the flower garden over there, and she looks to be crying too.
Is she crying? I wonder who she is. She is yelling something back at the house. An observer noticed the raggedy girl walking toward his neighbor’s house. Then he saw his neighbor fall to her knees as she yelled for her husband to come, never taking her eyes off the strange girl. He had never seen a man weep like that before, when the father came into the street and ran toward the girl. The man and girl fell to their knees in middle of the street. The embrace was intense; as if each feared the other were an apparition.

The neighbor smiled to himself and continued his yard work. Not wanting to intrude on so intimate and precious a moment. He also had a home to go tonight, a shelter from the darkness and a Father who never turned him away.

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About the Writer Author
State: Idaho
Country: United States
Email: hilarey@hilarey.com
Website: http://hilarey.blogspot.com
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