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The Next Stop

Dedicated to

Chapter One

"You have got to be kidding me..." Madeline sighed.

All I could do is stand there under the awning of community college and stare ahead at the pouring rain.

"What are we going to do!?" my friend huffed.

Arms full of canvases, I shrugged my shoulders and replied, "I don't know."

It was the last day of the our six month community college class on drawing and painting, a class we'd taken to see if we still had the talent we had two years ago in high school. But now that class was over and all five projects had to be taken home today, no exceptions, unless throwing them in the trash counted. And of course, that day had to be the one the heavens poured down water like the coming of the next flood.

Unfortunately we were also terribly broke and therefore did not have a car, money for a taxi, or even a portfolio to carry our works home in.

"Do you think we could just wait it out?" I asked.

"I have my shift at the pet store in two hours so I guess I could wait a little bit. Don't you have to be at the restaurant soon though?"

Throwing my head back with a groan I realized I in fact did and there was not a single patch of blue sky anywhere to signal that the downpour might end anytime soon.

"Don't worry, you can just leave your paintings with me Addie and I'll wait it out," Madeline offered.

Looking down at my pile of canvases I knew that would be no easy feat. I could barely carry my five on my own let alone make my best friend do double that. There would have to be another way.

"Thanks Mads but unless you got a wagon I'm not aware of there's no way you're carrying all these."

"Oh yea," she said looking at her own seemingly realizing for the first time her arms were already full, "I guess I didn't think it out that far."

I sighed and resigned to glaring at the politicians’ overly happy grins plastered on the side of the corner bus stop.

And that's when it hit me.

"Madeline! Do you have any change?" I asked as I started to frantically dig through my own pockets and purse as best I could.

"Why?" Madeline asked confused at how some nickels and dimes would help the situation.

"The bus stop! If we have enough change, all we'll have to do is run from here to the bus stop, ride the bus, and run from that bus stop to our apartment! There's that stop right in front of our building remember?"

"Ohmigod, yes!" she shouted as she began searching for loose coins, "Have I ever told you, you're a genius?"

"Once or twice maybe, but reminding me doesn't hurt." I grinned, double-checking a lone penny hadn't been missed somewhere.

After we both had scrounged up every last tiny coin possible, we started on counting up what we had.  

"Ok, I got... one dollar and... ninety seven cents, what do you have Addie?"

"Um... three dollars and two cents, is that enough?"

"I don't know, I think they cost $2.25 each so if that's right we should have enough."

"I hope so, because we've really got no other choice," I replied shoving all my change back into one of my coat pockets.

"So how are we going to do this?" Madeline asked gesturing with her head towards the small covering a few feet away.

"I guess just flip em over face down and run. Hopefully they won't be damaged too bad but just in case, put your least favorite on top."

Bracing ourselves we counted off to three and took off sprinting only to be huddled under the enclosure seconds later. After quickly checking for damage we wiped off any excess moisture with pieces of clothing and then started waiting for the next bus to arrive.

Like the outside of the bus stop, the inside was equally plastered with ads, mostly vandalized, for the upcoming election. It was kind of obnoxious really, all the clearly fake smiles and promises that would never be kept.

"I hate this guy," Madeline said grimacing at the wall of Unity party pleas.

I shrugged, "They're all the same if you ask me. Do you know when the bus should arrive?"

Madeline pulled her phone out to check the time. "It shouldn't be too long actually. A couple minutes I think, look and see if there's one coming towards us."

I peeked my head around the corner and over a some cars and yellow cabs was a shiny bus a couple blocks down.

"You're right, there is one."

It took a few minutes but the bus eventually pulled up. We rushed in through the doors, protecting our paintings, and started pulling out all our recently gathered change. We were about to start putting it in the fare box when my eyes fell on the price sticker.

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