I hummed mindlessly. A nursery rhyme looped in my brain as I turned out of my complex’s parking lot. I was running late for work. Hopefully the blue route would be reasonable traffic this morning and I would only be my usual late. Hopefully. I drummed my fingers on my steering wheel. When was my kids’ pediatrician appointment again? Crap, did I email David about those payment requests? Did I feed the cat? I drummed and hummed louder turning back the pages of my mind organizing my day, trying to calm myself. Tasteful, expensive homes adorned in massive trees and manicured lawns sped past my windows as I bisected the Main Line.
I wished I had coffee, a pumpkin spice coffee and a bacon egg and cheese bagel. I stopped humming and drumming and dreamt of Wawa. The school bus in front of my car caught my eye. The bus was slowing. The tiny STOP sign swung out. The bus stopped. Craptastic.
I knew never to look at a school bus. For the every one time you get a friendly wave there are nine times an angelic cherub shoots you the finger. The wheels on the bus… Humming, I wondered if I would be extra late or embarrassedly late. The bus’s doors slowly unfolded. Leisurely a group of children clamored aboard. It wasn’t the bus that caught my eye it was a little girl in the back window, her large brown eyes tired, her forehead resting on the cold hard glass, her hands clenched in fists by her face. I knew that face. I saw that face in the mirror when I took the time to look. That face is desperation.
The bus moved. Suddenly I was on that bus going to school to learn history and how to make others more comfortable. I wanted to tell her I knew how hard it was, some days, most days. The little girl and I locked eyes. Hang on it gets better. Did she smile or was that the shifting light through the leaves?
The school bus turned onto school grounds. The chain between us stretched and snapped. I drove out of the school zone and across the commuter lines towards the pike. It doesn’t really get better but you get stronger. Craning my neck past the red orange foliage to check for traffic, I edge my car forward. Go round and round, round and round.