The school bus slept at the bank of the creek. Blotches of brown crusted its face and a toupee of twigs and feathers made a silly hideous man that welcomed Ashley and I.
The smell is what I remembered most: old rotting plastic leather and stale water. We didn’t mind the mosquito bites; we tolerated it, more so than the bruises if we weren’t in our rusted home. But the smoke of our cigarettes helped keep the insects at bay. We made sure to take the packs that were nearly empty. Makes any search for it useless. So we smoked until we were finished.
Ashley’s blue hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and my red draped over the left side of my face. “There’s fire and Ice,” they would say, “they’re trying too hard,” they whispered. There were other words that floated around, words that hurt, words that drove our constant emotions. I was fire for my hatred, and she was ice to bay her sadness. That was our meaning, but of course, no one bothered to ask. Maybe one day.
The lonesome bus against the creek knew how we felt. Just to be stuck here, in this small fucking town, falling apart into the earth, I get you dear Bus.
Everything was far away, and when I would grab the torn and peeling steering wheel, I swore I felt the tremors of an engine. I pull the shifting lever and pushed the accelerator; we floated down the creek, into the ocean, toward New Zealand, and walked the Mordor trail. We lived in my hobbit hole and her smiling, and the smell of warm food. Maybe one day.
But dreams die and are reborn constantly. I dreamed of Ashley the night before. That she laughed with a beautiful smile. And I would kiss her. Over and over, this dream came and went. She knew how we felt, but the blue overcame her. I wish I could’ve told her. I wish that she knew how much I loved her.
It rained. A strong storm that came, Katrina, a vengeful woman’s name, and Ashley called me, crying about her parents. She wanted to dream of the driving again, with me beside her. She wanted me there.
It hurt me so much that I couldn’t be there. Ashley had moved the bus, just as we once dreamed, and the creek took her away. I wept alone on the other side of yellow tape with my boots stuck in the creek’s bed. I hope to meet her in New Zealand one day. Maybe one day.