The Bus Ride Over


Mia Bell McCubbin, Author

The Bus Ride Over

Jenny Rodgers, my “used to be” best friend, refused to sit next to me. Auntie Jada was the only reason I was even on this bus because she was indeed the bus driver, but even Auntie Jada couldn’t make Jenny friends with me again. Jimmy and Johnny were sitting behind me and were very famous for starting a racket, and gettin Auntie all mad. But today they were being incredibly sneaky, trying to hop from seat to seat whenever Auntie wasn’t looking. Jimmy launched from his seat and landed in mine just as Auntie Jada turned her head. 

“Jimmy! Get your no good behind, off my seat!” I growled at him but he just stuck his tongue out at me and hissed 

“ You can’t tell me nothin ms. Sara Jane! You lost your privilege when you stepped in that white school!” I sighed and shoved Jimmy off my seat into the aisle because even though he thought he could take me, I knew better. Then another voice sneered, but this one hurt 10 times more. 

“ Oh! Look who picked up some white habits at her little preppy school!” Jenny’s voice silenced all the chatter. The bus came to a stop and all the Frederick Douglas kids, also known as everyone but me, started to get out. But Jenny stayed a menacing look on her face. I gripped the bus seat in front of me, my knuckles whitening. Jenny knew me too well, she knew I had never been in a single fight in my entire life and probably never would be, but I knew that Jenny had been in tons of fights, I used to cheer her on from the side. I also knew that she was not afraid to fight me. Auntie looked back at us and a grim look crossed over her usually model-worthy face. Auntie had to get out and make sure all the kids got to their correct classes, otherwise, she’d be fired. Jenny was smart, she knew this, she knew she’d chosen a perfect time to get to me when Auntie wasn’t there. 

“Jenny doll,” Auntie started. I could tell she still wanted to help me. “Why don’t you get to class Sweet Pea? I’ll walk you.” A small smile appeared on Jenny’s face and I could have bet all my money on what she said next. 

“Sorry Ms. Jada, I lost my textbook back here and I need to find it. I have a test today.” Auntie sighed, she was too smart to believe Jenny but she really couldn’t do anything else. 

“Alright then, just hurry,” Auntie said and she stepped off the bus. Jenny got up and strode toward me, she was bigger than me and until now I hadn’t realized how much bigger she truly was. 

“Hi Preppy,” She said, her voice oddly calm “ Having fun at your new school?” I didn’t dare answer, I couldn’t risk saying the wrong thing. Her eyes narrowed into slits “Answer me Preppy.” I couldn’t help myself, before I knew it, words were flying out of my mouth. “ You know what Jenny, I like my new school, the teachers are better, the kids aren’t animals, and guess what there hasn’t been a single fight!” Jenny pounced her hands fast and furious, she punched and smacked and kicked and beat me. I tried to cover my face because that was all I could do. “Jenny! Stop! My mama made me go! You know I never wanted to leave Fredrick Douglas! Please, Jenny! You know me!” 

“So that’s the truth ain’t it!” Jenny shrieked as she shoved me onto my back and sat on my stomach. “ Well we ain’t friends anymore, are we? Are we?” Jenny suddenly got up and shoved /off me “See ya, Sara Jane.” Jenny grabbed her bag and left as quickly as she had pounced. I sat there on the bus aisle cold on my behind. Auntie climbed up the stairs and immediately turned her head to look for me, when she didn’t see me sitting in the seats I called out, 

“ Auntie! Auntie, I’m down here.” 

“Oh, sweet baby Jesus!” Auntie hurried over to me and helped me up onto the nearest seat. “ What happened Honeybuns?” 

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I said suddenly anger was rising in me and I turned my back to Auntie. 

“ Don’t you turn your back on me!” Auntie protested, but I held strong, and eventually, Auntie returned to the driver’s seat, and the bus engine revved to life. We drove in silence until we got to my school, but  then right as I left I couldn’t help but quickly hug Auntie the way I always do and she couldn’t help but say “ You might want to clean yourself up before you go to class.” She handed me three bandages and I realized suddenly that a small trickle of blood was running down my cheek. 

“ Thanks, Auntie, love ya,” I said then quickly dashed off the bus and into the building.




I sat alone at lunch like usual, my brother was in high school so he had different lunch times, but even if he did have the same lunch, it’s not like he’d let me sit with him anyway. A girl walked up to me and suddenly blurted out “ I think it’s cool that you have a bus all to yourself when you ride to school. Every morning I see you get off, but you are the only person actually on the bus, except for the driver of course.”  I didn’t know what to say, I’d never realized anyone watched me when I got off the bus. This girl was just so peppy, it made me uncomfortable. Finally, I forced myself to respond. 

“Uh thanks, I guess.” 

“My name is Lovey” The girl blurted again and stuck out her small pale hand. But before I could even think about sharing it she said “Well at least that’s what my friends and family call me, my real name is Abigal.” She stuck her hand again and against everything everyone else would have told me to, I shook it. 

“Well then, I guess that makes us friends, but I suppose I should probably know what to call you.” Lovey declared and I couldn’t help but answer 

“My name is Sara Jane.” Lovey was so confident and the way her long auburn ponytail swayed every time she talked just sort of persuaded me into answering. 

“Well that is a cool name, I like how it’s two names in one!” We talked for what seemed like only minutes but before I knew it the lunch bell had wrung and everyone had begun to file inside. I started to realize, making new, different friends might not be the worst thing in the world. The rest of the day flew by, I spent all of my class time thinking, but not about school, thinking about Lovey, and Jenny. Then came my last class of the day and I realized with a start, that Lovey was in it. She saw me and skipped over to my desk her long auburn hair accidentally hitting a small boy right across the face. 

“Hey there Bestie!” her abnormally high voice chimed. And she began to unceasingly talk so quickly and so much I couldn’t even register her words. The rest of the class went on like this, whenever given the opportunity, Lovey would bounce right over to my desk and continue her seemingly endless rant. Finally, the bell rang and I packed up my stuff and was about to walk out the door when Lovey appeared out of nowhere and blocked the door spread-eagle style. 

“Umm Lovey…” whispered, because as usual her strange behavior had attracted quite a crowd. But of course, Lovey couldn’t take a hint and kept standing there then when I thought she’d become a statue, she blurted 

“ Wanna have a playdate?!” I was so taken aback by the question that I froze and just stood there. Kids started to get annoyed and shoved and pushed me and Lovey out of the way so they could leave. We stood there for what felt like forever and then because Lovey didn’t seem capable of having more than a minute of silence, she whispered very quietly “Oh, I get it, you don’t really want to be friends with me, it’s because I’m weird, isn’t it?” I seemed so unlike her to be so sad that she didn’t even talk at her usual ear-ringing volume. I couldn’t stand it, I couldn’t stand seeing her so sad so I gathered up as much courage as I could muster and quickly said 

“ Of course, I’ll have a playdate with you Lovey! Were Besties right?!” I huge smile lit up Lovey’s face and in one swift motion, she linked her arm in mine and dragged me all the way out of the school. 




After only a short walk we arrived at Lovey’s house, it was huge, it had three stories and a large balcony in the front. The windows were so clean they were see-through and the lawn was so neatly mowed I could have sworn the grass was fake. I sudden wave of insecurity hit me hard and my palms began to sweat as I thought of my tiny one-floor house, with the hard that was so poorly taken care of the grass had died years ago. I thought of the few windows my house had they seemed like they were painted with mud compared to Lovey’s house. I thought of my neighborhood and how all the houses look just like mine and all the people look just like me and I suddenly had the urge to sprint back to my neighborhood, and apologize to Jenny. The urge became so strong I just couldn’t fight it so I turned and ran,

“I’m so sorry Lovey! I have to go!” I made myself shout over my shoulder as I sprinted around a corner. I didn’t even register Lovey’s response I was running too hard, I ran and ran, then suddenly I felt a warm wetness slide down my cheek and I came to the strange realization that I was crying, I never cried, that’s just something that my family didn’t do, I never really showed much emotion because I never really had to. My feet pounded the Cement and before I knew it, I was so tired that I just collapsed in some rando’s yard. Less than a minute later I heard the sound of a familiar old truck engine I couldn’t remember where I knew it from and I didn’t really care at the moment, but then I heard the brakes on the truck screech to a stop and I forced myself to sit up. I familiar face swung open the car door and I broke out in sobs all over again because of it.

“SJ! SJ are you alright?!” Jenny’s face appeared above mine and before I knew it I was sitting in the back of the truck my body limp and leaning against Jenny’s. 

“It’s ok, I promise it will all be ok SJ.” Jenny, though she had an incredibly rough exterior, was absolutely amazing at calming me down, she had always been able to comfort me no matter how upset I was, and this time was no different I could feel the sweat disappearing off my palms, my heartbeat had returned to normal, and my breathing was perfectly steady. 

“I’m so so sorry” I blurted out, I couldn’t help it, I couldn’t handle fighting with Jenny, it just felt wrong. Jenny seemed surprised by my words, for she didn’t answer for almost a minute, then she said, in a voice so soft I didn’t think anyone was capable of using it, said 

“ No, don’t apologize, I’m the one who should be doing that.” I started to talk to argue that I should be too but she cut me off. “I was the one who beat you up this morning like a crazy person!” I couldn’t help a small smile at Jenny’s words. “I guess I was just jealous, of your fancy new school, and I was just scared, scared you wouldn’t be my Bestie anymore.” She said the last part so quietly I had to strain my ears to make it out. 

“Oh, Jenny!” I said and flung my arms around her.

“ Don’t start with this sappy stuff!” Jenny growled but despite her protests her arms wrapped around me, making me happier than I’d felt in forever.

“Now who was that girl? The one that was runnin after you like the cops in a chase.” I sighed remembering Lovey and a small part of my new happiness faded. 

“Oh… that’s Lovey.” I gave a long guilty sigh. 

“ Who in H.E double hockey sticks names their kid Lovey?!” Jenny asked and I could tell she was back to normal.

“Well that’s not her real name, her real name is Abigal, but everyone calls her Lovey,” I explained and Jenny cocked her eyebrow so high I thought it might disappear. “She’s kind of my new friend,” suddenly everything that happened with Lovey poured out of my mouth until I had explained every last bit. 

“Wow, girl you gotta fix this,” Jenny said shaking her head so hard the beads at the end of her hair made noises. We talked and talked long after the truck had pulled up in front of Jenny’s house and her dad had gotten out. We talked until our eyelids got heavy and our words turned into yawns. 




I walked up to the front door, my hands clenched in nervous fists. 

“Just do it!” Jenny hissed from the nearby bushes. I finally forced myself to knock and the door immediately swung open.

“I saw you there, I was just waiting for you to knock.” Lovey’s voice said it sounded harder and colder than I’d ever heard it. 

“I’m sorry Lovey,” I said shuffling my feet. “I didn’t mean to hurt you. I just realized I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I needed to fix things with someone. It’s not because I don’t want to hang out with you, because I really do! I just needed some time to get used to our friendship.” Lovey was quiet for what felt like forever and I braced myself for an angry comeback, but then she flung her arms around me and said her voice back to its normal high volume and squeaky pitch.

“I would love to be your Bestie again Sara Jane!” I laughed and through the side of my eyes I saw Jenny pump her fist from the bushes, I laughed and pumped my own fist,  so incredibly happy, my two best friends right beside me.