I’m feeling my own smile spread almost all the way to my eyes, watching Bud’s smile. I hope there really is a Cora waiting for him at his destination. I’ll be looking for the white hat and flowered dress for him.
The driver announces that we are pulling into another stop to pick up other passengers. This time instead of a real station, the stop is at a roadside convenience store. We’ll have five minutes if we wanted to get a bite to eat or use the restrooms.
It looks fairly clean, even though it’s clearly old, considering the flickering fluorescents in the store sign. Might be worth checking out. After scrounging around the front pocket of my L.L. Bean for change, I disembark and go buy a diet soda.
There are two young girls in front of me in the check out line, they are giggling and whispering to one another. I’m almost positive they are making fun of me, and I try to adjust my posture to something with more pride, but to no avail. Instead I just sigh and push my hair behind my ear and do my best to ignore them.
Back on the bus, I open the soda and take a gulp. It hurts going down because I’ve swallowed some air as well. Damn, I’ll probably have to burp later. I hope no one hears.
Those giggling chicks get on the bus just then. Double damn. I certainly hope Heckle and Jeckle don’t hear me.
Luckily they pass me and take a seat farther back on the bus. Even so, as the bus pulls away to the highway, I still find myself wondering about those two.
The taller one is Molly, her buddy is Krissy. They are 16 and running away from home.
“Why is that crunchy chick so mother-lumpin’ sad?” Molly giggle-whispers.
“Maybe someone peed on her granola.” Krissy snarks, as if she’s the first one to use that line.
“Nice…” Molly nods in appreciation and the two settle into their seats.
“How long do you think it will take us to get there, Kris?”
“Dunno. Damn sure it’ll be sooner than it will take for our moms to notice we are gone.”
Molly nods again, this time with sadness creeping into her. Her mom would probably not even look for her, if she ever noticed she was gone at all.
Her dad passed away about 7 months ago. Mom had been dating Douchebag (a.k.a. Ted) for 3 months now. Grass hadn’t even taken root on Dad’s grave for chrissakes. Mom still had a friggin tan line on the ring finger of her left hand.
How had things changed so fast? This time last year, her biggest sorrow was that she had to sit next to her dumb little brother for 4 whole hours on the family road trip to the Jersey Shore. Her Dad had tried to make it better by making up a song about bunnies getting rides across the pastures on the back of jogging cows. Have you ever seen a cow jog? Damn, Dad was funny. Molly’s heart ached with every beat when she thought about it. But the ache was better than the actual freeze that overcame her when she remembers finding him that past Thanksgiving morning, cold, and purplish green, and swinging from the basketball hoop in their driveway.
Now, her Dad was six feet under, her brother had gone to live with her Dad’s parents and her Mom was so stupid in love with that cretin that she doesn’t even remember to buy groceries, nevertheless remember Molly’s birthday, and Molly felt all alone. That is, with the exception of her best friend forever and ever, Krissy.
“Thanks for coming with, Krissy Prissy” she said, nudging her friend in the shoulder.
“No problem Molly Dolly.” Krissy replied and nudged her right back. She had reasons of her own for leaving town, reasons she hadn’t even told Molly.
Krissy’s Dad wasn’t dead, but she’d wished he was sometimes. A shudder went through her even now, and she could almost smell the blackberry brandy that had been on his breath. In the dark, in the night, in her bed.
Her Mom didn’t believe her, didn’t want to believe her was more like it. But she pressed charges anyway and the bastard is going to rot in prison. Since the trial, her Mom’s been doped up on anti-depressants and boxed wine with her g.d. nose buried in a stupid bible. All of her tears and her prayers won’t fix what had been broken.
“When’s the next stop? I need a damn ciggy!” Krissy laughed loudly, pushing down the fear and pain for another day. Another day far away from this place.
I find myself wishing the bus driver would ignore the speed limit, just to get those girls away from here faster. Even if they think I’m crunchy. Whatever that means.