The bus pulls up, and I board along with the girl and other vaguely familiar faces. I walk toward the back of the bus and sit down, positioning myself so that I can focus all of my attention on the girl. Oh, fuck! That boy is here today, too, sitting up ahead. He has been showing up the past few days, and it is ticking me off. I was feeling good over the last several months, but now that the boy is turning up again, he will ruin everything. Soon, I bend over and pretend I am tying my sneaker so I can get a better look at him. But, he sees me watching him playing with his laces too, so I look away.
I focus my attention back toward the girl and immediately get a feeling the boy is watching her too. And, like me, I sense his impression of her is improving. Maybe this boy is looking for some competition. Just in case, I change my seat to get a closer look. As I get nearer, I catch a glimpse of the boy moving closer to the girl too, and it pisses me off.
I inspect the boy’s slicked-back hair and long eyelashes; I know his type. He thinks he is so cool wearing his fancy Jordan kicks. Pfft, big deal, I am wearing a pair too. This boy is waiting for his chance to step in and give my girl “eyes.” I know that trick. In fact, just last week on the bus, when I was staring up at him, he gave me “eyes” too, and I wanted to punch the little fucker in the face.
After a while, the girl sees me and gives me a small smile, nodding her head. She recognizes me and signals she likes me too. I knew it! So, I smugly turn my head in the direction of the boy, finding him staring back at me again. And then, out from the corner of my eye, I see the girl smiling in the boy's direction, but she looks down quickly in case someone notices. Well, I notice!
I lean back in my seat, waiting to see what the boy will do next. But the boy just leans back too. So, I give the boy a wink, and the asshole has the balls to wink back. And the angrier I feel, the redder the boy’s face becomes. Finally, as I ready myself for a fight and move toward the boy, I realize the boy is coming at me just as fast, stopping me dead in my tracks.
My adrenaline is pumping. I steal a sideways glance at the girl and notice the growing panic in her eyes as she looks up toward the front of the bus. And as I follow the path of the girl’s frightened gaze, my eyes fall onto an image in the driver’s mirror of the irksome boy who has my eyes looking back at me.
Margo Griffin is a 30-year urban public school educator from the Boston area. She is the single mother of two college-aged daughters and adopted mom to the love of her life, her rescue dog Harley.