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“Come on, come on! Let’s go already!”
I laughed as my best friend pulled my arm after her. She seemed to think the buses were going to leave without us if we didn’t get on them at that exact second.
“Gabriella, if you don’t start walking faster I’m gonna burn all of your books,” she threatened.
I did as she said and reached behind me to grab the big hand resting on the side of my waist, deciding that if I was going down, the least my boyfriend could do was go down with me. My best friend Mackenzie was now pulling the two of us down the sidewalk in front of our high school.
The coach buses we were supposed to be riding on to our field trip destination weren’t even started up yet, but she was always in a hurry. Ever since she had cancer three years ago and got to a point where she was hanging onto life by a mere silk thread, she never let a moment go to waste. There was always the chance that she would have a relapse at any time down the road, but she and I had an unspoken agreement to never think about it too much or talk about it unless it was absolutely necessary.
Being my usual clumsy self, I tripped up the random step halfway down the length of the bus like I did every single time we took coach buses. Kenz continued to drag us all the way to the back seats, the ones that were four across along the very back of the bus and next to the bathroom. We claimed those seats every time.
“If anyone has to go to the bathroom they better wait â€˜til we get to the restaurant,” Tom muttered darkly.
The last time we were on a coach bus at the beginning of the school year, one of the freshmen girls decided that it would be fun to go to the bathroom on a coach bus. When she got to the back, the bus went over a bump that sent her spilling into Tom’s lap. Once that happened, we figured out that she was really just going to the bathroom so she could get close to him.
There was always the handful of freshmen girls who thought dating a senior would make them instantly popular. All it really did was aggravate the guy’s senior friends and girlfriend especially. There used to be a time when we tolerated the freshmen but after three years of dealing with them they start to get annoying.
“Don’t worry,” I said to him, plopping down in the window seat and putting him in the middle so Kenz could sit on the outside. “Now Kenzie can catch any falling freshmen.”
She stuck her tongue out at me as the bus began to fill rapidly. We sat in companionable silence until the teachers were done counting heads and the bus driver was done telling us to stay seated in case of an emergency. Tom held my hand in his warm ones, rubbing them gently without thinking about it. I played with the class ring on his finger with my free hand, staring out the window absentmindedly while Kenz did Sudoku puzzles. I never could understand why she did them all the time.
When the bus started and we got onto the expressway, my eyelids began to droop with the steady rocking. I dropped my head onto Tom’s shoulder with my eyes closed. He lightly brushed my hair back from my forehead and wrapped that arm around my waist when he had finished. A few minutes later, I felt him rest his head on top of mine, still rubbing my hands with one of his.
And soon enough, I drifted to sleep in his strong arms, feeling completely safe and sheltered from the world. A bright flash woke me up suddenly a few hours later and I glared at Kenzie with her camera.
“I am so nominating you guys for cutest couple,” she whispered excitedly. “Seriously, Gabby, I have never seen any two people more compatible.”
Tom hadn’t woken up fullyâ€”apparently he fell asleep with meâ€”and let the weight of his skull carry his head back onto the seat’s headrest. I yawned as Kenzie put her camera back into her bag and rested my head on Tom’s chest. The contact startled him awake, but he didn’t move his head from the seat or his arms from around me until he ducked his head when Kenz wasn’t looking.
“I love you, Gab,” he whispered into my ear.
I smiled sleepily.
“I love you too,” I murmured, closing my eyes once more.
Field trips were supposed to be fun, but somehow they always ended up like this. Some of the best and simplest moments between Tom and me occurred on buses to movie theaters or amusement parks. But that was just the way we liked it. Nice and simple.
After all, our love was a field trip.