There was a time when getting on the bus was as exciting as stepping onto a playground for recess. As soon as the bright yellow vehicle turned its wheels and entered my street, I ran out my door and to the stop. I waved to my mother, who was watching from the window, and shined the brightest smile to the driver. She was kind and always smiled back. As I stepped on the bus, I eagerly looked around for my friends who got on before me.
I remember seeing the boys from the building beside mine, the jerks. They always bullied me for being smaller than most middle schoolers. You could tell they were brothers from their similar facial structures, clothing styles and common personalities.
In the very back of the bus were the older kids from the street. I gave them high-fives before sitting down. My guess was they probably thought I was funny for thinking a middle schooler like myself was cool enough to say hello to the big, mature high schoolers.
As I sat, the engine rumbled and the doors closed. One last passenger made her way down the aisle before the bus began to head to our destination. The girl pointed beside me and sat before I could respond to the gesture. That is when I first met Cherry. An unkept young girl who didn’t seem to talk much. Our introduction was short, only consisting of two hellos and my “Hello I am… I live in building… What’s your name?” to which she simply said, “Cherry.”
I would have never guessed, but we bonded each day after. Soon, our mutual title for one another was under the “best friend” category, it consisted of too many letters that stood for words that never fully made logical sense to say out loud more than once. Terms like B.F.F.L.D.A.B. only existed to make us laugh. Cherry and I were inseparable.
One day, her long beautiful curly hair was straightened and her uniform was ironed. I wanted to comment that she looked real “dolled up” but after our eyes met, she looked down and ignored me. She sat at her desk and didn’t speak a word. The teacher didn’t call on her, and our friends walked away quickly as she approached. She seemed angry with me, but I couldn’t think why she would be. She stared at me, her eyes squinted. I figured I must have said something wrong the other day and hurt her feelings.
The next few days started as any other. I ran out of the apartment, making sure to reach the bus before the driver left — the old driver seemed to have left too. I sat in the same seat that I had unofficially assigned to myself. Each day I waited and waited for Cherry but she never came. Soon, my friend had left my daily routine. She wasn’t even in class. No one called attention to it, I never heard her name in the daily gab.
My days had grown dark. My only real friend had, left and I found myself in a newer and boring routine. The jerk boys must have moved or dropped out because they never took the bus. My high school friends had graduated and gone to do more exciting things in life. I was sure I must have imagined her in my head, as people cannot just disappear… right? Strange.
It seemed like an eternity had passed by before I saw my friend again. After missing my stop, I had to walk a bit further to reach home. I decided to sit on a park bench for a moment to pass the time. That’s when I saw her. Overwhelmed, I screamed her name. As her beautiful curls bounced, she quickly dropped a letter beside me and ran away. Tears were slowly making their way down her cheeks before she got into a must-be-new car and drove off.
“Dear friend,” it said, “I am sorry that time has slipped away from me. I made sure to keep you in my mind, but sometimes life does not allow you to have what you want. After transferring schools, I changed. I was no longer my bubbly self, but I was angry and confused most days. Angry at how I didn’t go on the bus that day. Angry with how I could have been with you when you needed me most. After that first day, I could not bare being in that class. Please, stop waiting for me. I cannot live seeing you anymore. My heart was overjoyed as I saw you on the bus my last day… until I realized I didn’t. I leave this note by you to plead for forgiveness for skipping a bus ride home. Please, if you love me and if our friendship is true, stop haunting me. With love, Cherilyn Hobbs.”
Hurt and confused, I stood up and threw the letter on the ground. How could a best friend leave schools? How can she come to see me and then leave without saying a word? How can she — and there it was. A strange wooden peg stood behind the bench. Painted white and surrounded by hand planted flowers. Stuffed animals, pictures, and letters lay against the post. As I turned to the street, I saw the letter from Cherry had blew away. I eagerly chased after it and before I realized it — headlights.
Angelique Inchierca can be contacted at