It was already unbearably hot, the dust from the dirt road filled the air as my father drove away. My mind felt almost as heavy as my packed school bag, full of books I'd never read and half completed assignments.
The bus would be here soon. There was no escaping this, the next nine hours of hell, nobody waiting to whisk me away to safety, nobody waiting to do anything good.
At least there was the bus. A set of bookends for my shitty days, a respite from the judgement of my peers and of my father, a place where nobody would dare touch me or yell at me lest they face the wrath of driver Bob.
Arms gnarled with age and sun, Bob was the authority on the bus, not feared so much as respected. Bob drove every day with the radio tuned to the AM, happily listening to the same Billy Joel and Marvin Gaye songs, sometimes even humming along.
Bob didn't care much about what happened on the bus, just so long as the kids sat down and didn't talk too loud, he was happy.
That's how I came about my strategy, if I sit close to Bob, nobody can mess with me, sure there would be the occasional shove as people got on or got off, and sometimes things were thrown, but behind or next to Bob was safe.
The country side moved on by, the same houses, fields and trees, the same me, numb to everything, content to just sit for a while and not think and be calm.
First past the Eckerts farm, our closest neighbours, their kids went to a different school, a Christian school, where poor Robbie, gay as all hell apparently had once gone. Before he was gone.
Then past the Daniels farm, not that you could really call it that nowadays, it's hard to run a farm when you're stuck in a wheelchair.
Up past the chicken farms, they always stank like something unbelievable, rows upon rows of chickens crammed into sheds in this weather?
Finally the town approaches, and so does my anxiety. How many times will I get yelled at by teachers today? Where can I hide during recess and lunch?
How long until I can get back on the bus.