FICTION: Bus Ride by Norman Klein

She walks ahead, then runs for the bus and finds a window seat. He walks slower, is the last to get on, finds her and puts his arm around her. “No, Danny,” she says, and turns away from him.

“What’s with you, Babe?” he asks.

“You think you own me now, don’t you?” she says remembering the way he held her much too tight right after, and wouldn’t let her get dressed.

“Hey, what can I say? I can’t help it. I love you.”

“You’re going to tell your friends, aren’t you, Danny?”

“Maybe, some of them, just so they know I’ll be spending more time with you now.”

“No, don’t tell them anything. It’s none of their business.”

“Please, Babe. I can’t help it. They’re going to want to meet you when they see how hot you are.”

“Just remember, Danny, I got first lunch, and you got second. All your friends in first lunch will want to sit with me.”

“No, I’ll tell them not to. I’m the one who protects you. You want me to protect you, don’t you?”

“Of course I do. I’m not safe in your neighborhood.”

“And here I am riding you home.”

“Riding me home and making a fool of yourself.”

“Hey, little miss snooty. What’s gotten into you? That’s enough of your crap.”

“I’m not snooty, I’m just telling you how it is. You have to respect me.”

“That’s it. We’re done. I’m getting off at the next stop.”

“You get off, Danny, and its goodbye forever.”

“Don’t make me laugh. Remember our first fight, how you called the next day, begging me, and saying you were sorry?”

“That’s right, Mr. b-ball star who got kicked of the team for smoking, Mr. my way or the highway. I begged you once, but never again.”

“Like I said, I’m getting off at this stop. Here goes me.”

“And here’s my back turned and my cell phone turned off.”

A week later she asks her best friend Ginny to tell Danny she’s found a new guy, a senior with a car. ‘He even opens the car door for me,’ she asks Ginny to tell Danny.

Ginny comes back with a message. “Danny’s quit smoking and he’s back on the team.”

Tell him, “Good for you, Danny. I’m flunking chemistry.”

“I can’t,” Ginny says. “He keeps asking about you, wanting me to tell him the kind of gifts he should buy you, and I can’t stand it. I think I’m falling for him.”

She calls him during practice and leaves the message, but changes it a little.

“Good for you, Danny. Funny, you’re doing better and I’m doing worse. I’m flunking chemistry.”

He calls in the middle of the night and leaves a message. “Hey, Babe, sorry about that. Maybe we should get together. You could do your chemistry, and I’ll study my play book.”

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Norman Klein has an Iowa MFA in Fiction and has published 8 stories so far this year in mags and anthologies. He has taught in Boston, then Chicago, and now lives and writes in the back woods of New Hampshire.

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