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Just a Bus Note
I always wished I had a normal life. Yet my life is what has shaped who I am today. If I had been born a normal kid, I would not be the same person. So in a way I am thankful for all the times my parents weren’t there for me. All the times I had to eat dinner alone. And all those times I was mom to my younger siblings.
“Are you sure this will work?” I asked, nervously scanning the forged note in my hand.
“Charity, it’s just a bus note. It’s not like you’re going to be sent to jail or anything.” My friend Ashlyn said laughing.
As I got on the bus and handed the bus driver my note that my “dad” wrote, I fidgeted nervously with my loose hair. What if he found out? Would he never believe me again? What if no one in the school ever trusted me after this? I asked myself.
“Charity?” the bus driver asked in his deep voice, scanning the rearview mirror above him.
“Yea?” I asked starting to panic.
“Who wrote this?”
I almost said “me” but kept my cool. “My dad. Why do you ask?”
“There’s no signature.” He said looking at me like I was the biggest idiot he had ever seen.
“He probably forgot,” I said meeting his cold eyes innocently.
“Well, don’t let him forget next time,” he said starting the bus. WOW! It worked! He is such an idiot. I thought, smiling as I sat beside Ashlyn on a worn, malodorous leather seat.
When we got to Ashlyn’s house, she sent me up to the attic. We didn’t want to risk being found together. Especially after her dad had grounded her from seeing me the week before. If there was a reason that we shouldn’t hang out together, it would be because she is the bad influence. Not me. So I ran up the stairs, and almost stumbled over a box of donuts in the dark. I set my backpack down on a table that creaked as if it would break under the weight. Then I found a match in a brick behind the table and lit the vanilla scented candle we had found above her grandma’s fireplace. I had told Ashlyn that matches were dangerous up here, where the very air could catch fire. She had told me to stop being so paranoid.
I heard foot-steps outside the door, and Ashlyn came in. The floor creaked so much from us walking around, it surprised me that people didn’t hear us up there.
“You got away from her?” I asked referring to her grandma.
“Barely”, she sighed taking a seat beside me.
Suddenly there was a sound from outside the door, and her little brother, Bucky, came in.
“Bucky, you know you’re not supposed to be up here! Go back downstairs.” I said angrily. But then there was another figure standing in the doorway. Isaac (Ashlyn’s dad).
“Ashlyn, I told you not to hang out with this girl. She’s not a good person to be around,” he yelled looking at me in a belittling way that made me want to attack him. “Come on, we’re leaving.” He pulled her towards the little doorway that led to downstairs. “And as for you Charity if I ever see you near my daughter again, I will go to the police.” It was then that I couldn’t hold my anger any longer and screamed at him every swear word that I knew. I wouldn’t let this friendship go without a fight.
When they were gone, I sat on the floor and cried. Why does he judge me by my dad? Doesn’t he know I’m not anything like him? When I felt as if I couldn’t cry anymore, I got up, found Ashlyn’s grandma and got her to drive me home. On the way she kept talking about how she knew I wasn’t a bad person and how her son just wants Ashlyn to change for the better. And I just kept nodding and saying “uhhu” while my mind was elsewhere.
As we pulled the old car up into my parents’ driveway, I saw red lights flashing a warning into the fading light. Ambulances and police cars were everywhere. My first instinct was not fear, but curiosity. I looked at Ashlyn’s grandma and saw, in her kind grey eyes, that she wanted me out of the car. She wanted to get away from the situation as soon as possible. So I climbed out. There was fear everywhere, and screaming. And then I was surprised. What could be bad enough to draw this much attention? Then the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Where is Shilome? The local police had brought my little sister home a lot in the last 2 years, and my parents had seemed not to care at all. I couldn’t do anything to stop her from wandering off because I had school. And let me tell you, 8th grade isn’t that easy. Especially when you have to be a mom for your 6 younger siblings. I reviewed these facts as I ran past people looking at me with sympathy. I staggered into my sisters’ room and was relieved to find Vince Vincent (a CPS worker that had been helping with my family) helping Miaya and Shilome put on their shoes. I must have sighed because he looked at me questioningly. How could I sigh in such a time as this?
“What happened?” I asked, scanning his face for details that might tell me quicker than his words could.
“They found a carbon monoxide leak. It has been here for about 3 weeks.” He said as he finished tying Miaya’s shoe and helping her on to her feet. “Your mom is on the way to the hospital.”
I stepped into the entry and found a really tall dude that I thought looked familiar. He saw me looking at him and said “Hey… Charity right?”
“Yea.” I wasn’t surprised. Everyone knew who I was.
“Hi, I’m your mom’s brother. Lorin.” He said holding his hand out.
“So do you know what’s going on?” I asked my uncle.
“Nope. Not really.” So I told him what Vince had said. Just as I finished, I saw my aunt May whom I hadn’t seen forever. In my opinion, she is the best aunt in the world. It reminded me that I wasn’t in this alone. Then, smiling I walked over and gave her a hug. The rest was kind of blurry. I remember my grandma saying I was going to stay with her for a few days. I remember tons of curious eyes looking at me. I never knew my grandma’s house was so massive, nor had so many people. But as it turned out, I didn’t only end up staying at grandma’s for a few days. Now everyone there is like family to me. And I mean a real family. And I will never have to beg my parents to go get food again, or be a mom…at least I hope not.
I guess being normal isn’t so great. It’s better, but not the heaven I always imagined. Of course I am still not a normal kid, though I might have a normal life. All those experiences have changed who I am inside. Though on the outside, I will always be the same Charity.