Haggity slipped onto the green vinyl seat of the bus. Bastion slid next to her, eyeing her as she pressed her forehead against the window, staring out at nothing in particular.
The bus doors hissed closed, and the bus grumbled ahead. The manic voices of Haggity’s peers drowned out the top 40’s radio station that vainly tried to sedate them.
But Haggity didn’t hear any of it. Wading deep in emotions she couldn’t name, she found herself avoiding Bastion’s sidelong glances, coming up with reasons to justify her anger.
“How could he expect me to go to Lucia’s party?” she fumed inwardly.
“Doesn’t he remember how Lucia’s treated me? How they’ve all treated me?”
“I could never become friends with those people, even if I wanted to!” Haggity was winning her inner argument, and her certainty that she was right made her even more angry.
“The way they all look at me, as if they’re afraid of me…as if I can help being what I am.”
“Whatever I am.”
Her anger reaching a crescendo, Haggity whirled in her seat, sat on her knees and glared at her attacker in the seat behind her.
Otis, a freckled nightmare of a boy who tortured Haggity on a regular basis, simply smirked. Then, with a metal-toothed grin, he raised his foot and…
An extra big whack to her seat, just for her defiance.
Haggity, defeated, deflated back in her seat. She pulled her knees to her chest, and tried her best to fight the tears brimming in her eyes.
This was turning out to be the most miserable of days.
Bastion sighed. He raised up in his seat and leveled an even gaze at Otis.
“Cut it out.” he said quietly, but in a tone that left little room for argument.
Otis’s smile vanished. He lowered his foot, even as he narrowed his eyes dangerously at Bastion. Their gazes locked for several seconds. Otis snorted a derisive “Pffft…” as he finally relented, turning his gaze to the window.
Bastion lowered back down, and turned to address Haggity. Her chin was on her knees, and she stared at the back of the seat in front of her. Her eyes were full of tears, but she refused to blink, lest she release them down her cheeks.
“Haggie…” Bastion began softly.
Haggity, overwhelmed, buried her face in her knees and sobbed.
Bastion, uncertain of what to do, stroked her back in a lame attempt to comfort.
“Listen,” he started again, “You don’t have to come to that party with me. It was a stupid idea.”
She turned to face him, her cheeks red and wet with tears, “I can’t go,” she whimpered, pleading.
But she could tell that it wasn’t okay. Bastion was disappointed…disappointed in her. It killed her that she couldn’t make him happy, but…what could she do?
Go to the party?
The mere thought of it petrified her. Even in the company of Bastion, they would stare, whisper to each other, giggle conspiratorially…she couldn’t bear it.
As the bus rumbled into the school parking lot, she finally had to admit…
She was disappointed in herself.