- This is one of many entries I am writing from prompts I found online. The prompt can be found at the end. I advise reading it after finishing the short story.
Holly called late. Thursday. On a school night! My sensible friend. An elementary principal.
“Remember when we were in fifth grade and Mrs. Lyons got us to do a presentation on the the career we wanted to do?”
“Yeah. And you got your mom’s clothes and plastic glasses for your nerd talk.”
“Hey. You made a cardboard school bus and wore it!”
“Do not mock the bus!”
“Okay. Shh. Do you want a school bus?”
I burst out laughing. Holly and I talked like this all the time. I thought I was going to convince my friends, when we turned eighteen, to drive around the country in a bus. Somehow we’d manage to feed ourselves. Holly said it again:
“So. You want a bus or not?”
“Of course. Forty eight states in forty eight days. Maybe we can go through Canada to hit Alaska and drive on water to Hawaii,” I scoff in jest.
“I’m serious Bella. The district head and I met today. Among other things, he told me they are replacing the entire fleet of buses over the summer.”
“You are serious?”
“Yep. I joked in passing about getting one. They’re headed to the vehicle graveyard. He said he’d figure it out with them.”
I had no idea what I would do with my school bus, but I would own it and do something amazing, wacky, and hilarious with it. I’d do something that most adults would never do. I would make a childhood dream a reality.
Holly, her boss, and I arranged for her to pick up the bus from the junkyard. I looked at and climbed aboard several until I chose Rosie. It was the only name I could ever give my bus. Rosa Parks was my inspiration. My Rosie was as not beautiful or graceful as her human counterpart. I had faith she would be strong and determined with the right amount of love and attention. Somehow I was able to drive her out of the yard. The first thing I was going to do was get the Chicago Public Schools sign off her sides. I loved school as a kid, but this baby was getting a full overhaul. As I drove I became a little kid again. I brought the bus to my grandpa’s farm. Not only did he have the space, he also had done all his own work on the farm vehicles. I was just turning Rosie off when I saw him standing a few feet away. He beamed at me, gave me two thumbs up, and burst into laughter. I ran to him and hugged him tightly. We had been inseparable for my whole life.
Grandpa worked on her most days. I popped over a couple of times during the week. I spent a good chunk of the weekend there. As I grew up he showed me my way around an engine. I loved working with him. Once we had made the necessary fixes, and added some power and improved shocks we were ready to paint. Holly and Ash, my boyfriend of a little over a year, got to work on Rosie. They loved grandpa and the feeling was mutual. We painted it all white which took an entire weekend. That week we argued about how it should look. Of course none of us could agree so we decided to split the bus in four parts and let each of us do whatever we wanted. It looked amazing when done. And crazy. A mix of graffiti, cartoons, various patterns. Once we were done I placed an ad in The Sun Times. We hoped we’d get a decent number of people – maybe five. Ten if we were lucky….
I scrambled to get my Commercial Driver’s License with Passenger endorsement. I got it two days before out trip was due to start.
We got to the location a couple of hours early. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to park. There were some restrictions but we found somewhere nearby. We’d had t-shirts made up for ourselves. Ash, Holly, and I were wearing hot-pink shirts with “Ride the Route” in black. Customers came in ones, then a hoard gathered. Sixty-three people came in the end. The bus only had twenty-eight passenger seats – twenty six with Ash and Holly. Ash saw a look of panic on my face and stepped in.
“I’m so sorry folks. Obviously we can’t accommodate everyone. We’re gonna have to draw names.”
A sigh of disappointment went around.
“If you have more than one in your party, write all the names on your piece of paper.”
Within fifteen minutes the party was settled on. Twenty minutes after that, the bags, and the people, were stowed on board, and we were ready to go.
As we drove west along Adams Street, at the start of our journey, feelings of guilt crept up for the people who couldn’t come. Once we reached the city limit, excitement and freedom took over. I through on a random playlist from my phone, and shouted at the top of my lungs. There was a buzz on board. No matter how this turned out, it would be an amazing trip that I would remember forever.
PROMPT: You decide to buy a big school bus and to travel your country. You post an ad asking if anyone would like to join you. You’re surprised by the number of people who show up.