March of the Plants – Chapter 2: The Bus Ride

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My alarm clock buzzed off next to my head, as I jumped out of bed. I took a few seconds to slow my breathing.

I looked down to see that I was standing in the middle of my bedroom in nothing but boxers. It took me another two minutes to realize that my alarm clock was still buzzing.

The clock read “8:03 a.m., on Wednesday October 4th.”

Reality seeped back in, as I jumped toward the closet to grab my clothes. The bus was about to arrive and I did not want to be late for school today.

I had a biology exercise during first period. We were likely to be dissecting something, and I didn’t want to miss that.

I raced down the steps. My mom was standing in the kitchen around the corner.

“Would you like some eggs, dear?”

“No thanks Mom, I’m gonna be late!”

“Okay, have a great day.”

I stumbled out the door, carrying my shoes in my hand as the bus pulled up to my house.

I must’ve been running pretty fast because I bumped into the driver, “Sorry Mr. Jones,” I said.

“It’s alright Peter, sit down”, he replied, brushing off his winter track jacket with the school logo that read, ‘Azalea Public School’.

I spotted my friend George Casey struggling with a rubik cube near the back, and took my place next to him.

“How’s it going?”, I asked.

“Not too bad, just another day right?”, he replied.

I nodded as the bus changed gears and started up the road.

This was our last year at Azalea Public School then it would be off to high school. I was extremely nervous, but was glad to be going to the same school as George.

George Casey was a stubby boy with thick black-framed glasses. He usually went unnoticed, but that also meant he could get away with murder. He obsessed over puzzles; crosswords, word searches, and now the rubik cube.

George was co-captain of the chess club and quiz club, and his favourite piece of literature was the thesaurus – specially the letter Q for quizzical.

“So Pete, you throwing that party soon or what?”, George asked. He’s been riding my ass for the last two weeks after I had announced to the class that I was arranging a party at my house to celebrate our upcoming graduation.

I haven’t spoken to my mom about this idea, and frankly I hadn’t thought that far ahead before announcing the plans. I think a part of me liked the idea of hosting an end of year party because it provided the perfect opportunity to boost my social status during the difficult transition to high school.

“I’m still in the planning stages. I’m waiting to find a day when my mom won’t be home.”

Hosting a party isn’t as easy as it’s shown in the movies. Those parties can grow out-of-control, stuff gets ruined and parents kill their children – those were things I did not want to happen.

“We’ll talk about the party later, right now I’m gonna take a nap”, I told George.

I started snoozing with my head against the window. Seconds later, THOOOMP! Our bus began its rocky descent toward our school.

I hated when Mr. Jones took the bumpy path. I think he rides ATVs in his spare time.

“Hang on kids, this is gonna be a bumpy ride,” he said.

“No shit,” George mumbled to himself.

My mind wandered back to the dream from the night prior. I couldn’t get the images out of my head. The Alpha tree; it was as if it was a living, breathing thing.

The bus screeched to a stop at the bottom of the hill near the entrance of Azalea Public School.

“Alright everyone out, I need to make a Timmies run, ” Mr. Jones exclaimed. Mr. Jones was never without a coffee in his hand. Extra large, three cream, two sweeteners.

I followed George off the bus, walking behind a number of classmates ranging between the ages of 6 and 13.

Azalea Public School was surrounded by dense forest. Vines covered most of the brick. Lilacs, roses, daisys, and other greeneries added layers of beauty to a decrepit looking building.

“When will they ever get rid of these damn plants?”, George asked.

“I think they’re cool. They make our school look prettier,” I said.

George and I walked through the double doors of Azalea Public School. The voices from my dreams still echoed in my mind.

“Turn back. Leave this place. You don’t belong here.”

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