Back in High School English class, we had what we called “quick-writes”. They were basically just a blur of words on any subject vomited on to a page within a three minute time span. If we were ever stuck on what to write about, we were instructed to repeat the phrase “I don’t know what to write” until either time or inspiration caught up with us. My teacher would call them fake-spontaneously (meaning spontaneously to my classmates and me, but perfectly planned to her) and we would begrudgingly pull out a piece of paper and start writing. Many of my quick-writes were about quick-writes. At any rate, I feel like writing now, it being one of my most treasured things to do, but I have too many ideas to pick just one, and at the moment they are all tripping over themselves in my head. So, this is my quick-write:
The first time I can remember having that pit-of-your-stomach sinking feeling was when I got on the wrong bus home sometime in first grade. To be more specific, I was put on the wrong bus by my well-meaning-in-retrospect, but horrible-devil-woman-at-the-time teacher. It’s really the only memory I have from that time period, and I expect that I’ve blocked out the rest of my childhood from the sheer horror of this singular experience.
I was new in town, which is wont to happen when you’re a military brat, and I’d not yet gathered around me the protective circle of friends that I eventually would. It was my first day, after-all, or more likely my second; my mom almost surely would have at least taken me in on the first. I knew exactly what my bus number was, this being the type of thing that’s very important to me; but, as my teacher walked me out of class, her hand on the back of my right shoulder, she directed me toward what I new was not my number. I was too shy, at the time, to say anything; but, as my panic grew I did manage to mumble something and point to the left. My hand swung around and landed my pointed appendage on a beatific scene: bright yellow school bus, dazzling in the afternoon sun, a meadow filled with bunny rabbits and doe-eyed, err, doe in quiet repose behind it, children positively skipping onto number 16 where they were showered in candy and happy smiles. Alas, though, Ms. Sumthinorother *tsk-tsked* me and swung my body instead toward number 13: a charred vehicle resplendent in bloody spikes and carcasses, storm clouds gathering over it and the brimstone pits over which it swung precariously, Satan laughing hysterically as he whipped chained and beaten children aboard.
I rode that bus to the bitter end. Stop after unfamiliar stop streamed past my window as more and more strange kids went off to their happy lives. I considered getting off on a few occassions, with the idea that maybe I was just one or two streets over, and I could easily find my way home. Thankfully, I didn’t, or I’m fairly sure I’d be out there to this day. Eventually, the cheese stands alone, and the bus driver looked up in that obscenely wide mirror that only they get to have and probably order special to put in their after-hours Volvos and said, “Are you on the right bus, honey?” and I replied, grateful for having finally been understood, “No. No I am not!”