I bit my lip nervously as I saw the beat up, yellow bus driving around the corner. I can do this. I thought to myself as I gripped the handles on my duffle bag tighter. Of course, I had ridden on this bus many times, yet this time wasn't the same. This time I wasn't just visiting the destination, I was going to be living there for the rest of my teenage years. This option might seem unappealing to others, they might even see it as crazy, but if they knew the other option, they would understand why I picked this one.
The bus came to an abrupt halt in front of me, causing the tires to squeak momentarily. Two overly-large men in uniforms stepped out and stood on either side of the entrance. I nodded a quick greeting before making my way onto the vehicle. Tripping only once, I quickly made my way to the back of the bus. I glanced around at my empty surroundings, surprised.
"Where is everybody?" I wondered aloud. It was unusual for it to be this empty, especially on a Friday.
"You're the first stop, m' lady." Sam, the bus driver, replied.
"Don't I feel lucky" I stated sarcastically.
"As you should." the corner of his lips turned upwards slightly. I nearly smiled.
Once in my seat, I dug through my backpack until I found my iPod and I shoved the headphones in my ears. I searched through my music until I found the band I needed at the moment. Satisfied, I pressed play, closed my eyes and turned the volume up until it hurt my ears. The heavy music had the effect I hoped it would; it drained my thoughts completely.
The bus ride passed slowly, even in my half-asleep state. Normally I would have slipped into unconsciousness completely by now, but ever since the incident, I haven't been able to fall asleep at will.
I don't know how long I sat there, fighting consciousness, but when I finally gave up and opened my eyes, I realized I wasn't alone. I was surrounded by guys, a lot of guys.
"She lives!" One of them shouted dramatically. It was followed by a round of chuckles.
"You're not a dude," the brunet occupying the seat next to me pointed out.
I rolled my eyes "Really? I would have never guessed."
A smile played around the edges of his mouth. "Well, then why are you here?"
I shrugged, "I guess I'm just lucky."
He sighed in defeat, realizing I wasn't in the mood for conversation. "I'm Asher, Asher Smith."
"Wait, so you're Sean's sister?" He asked, his green eyes flickering with curiosity.
I nodded quickly, my eyes returning to my lap. I felt a slight pang in my chest, talking about them was utterly forbidden.
"Sweetness," He seemed truly pleased with this tidbit of information.
"So how does this whole thing work?" I quickly changed the subject before he could ask any more questions.
"You mean how does the school work?" He interpreted. I nodded. "Well, there are five dorm buildings and four teaching facilities, one for each grade. In each, well, we call them 'dorm wings' because it's like a living space with enough room for six or seven people to live there. It's really nice in them living spaces. And normally, you go to classes on how to 'become a better man'" He rolled his eyes, "along with normal high school classes." He paused, "Oh, and everybody has weekly chores 'cause of obvious reasons..."
Asher chatted happily for an hour, needing only the slightest nudges from me to keep the conversation going. He explained how he ended up here. He and his buddies had gotten a little buzzed and decided to "test" the instruments at the music store where one of his friends worked. They snuck in after it was closed and ended up playing a little too loud, resulting in his ending up here... again. He also told me about his family.
"Wait, so you have six sisters?" I interrupted, dumbfounded. "Do you have any brothers?"
He nodded with a smile. "Yeah, I have two-well, two in-laws anyway." I shook my head in awe.
"So what about you Mel, how many do you have?"
I felt my face crumple. "I um, well, I..." I was at a loss for words.
"So why are you here again?" Asher changed the subject, his green eyes soft. I sighed in relief. Although this question was still...hard, it didn't break through the brick wall of numbness as the other questioned threatened to.
"I was friends with the owner's daughter and when they learned that I needed a place to stay for a-a while, they said I could stay here." My voice was flat.
"So why didn't they just let you stay with them? Surely the Bradford's have plenty of room in their house." Asher pressed.
"It's-easier for them if I stay here instead," I explained. He studied my face, trying to find the meaning behind my words. He sighed deeply when he couldn't find anything.
"So do you know anybody on this bus?" I asked before he could question me anymore on the subject.
"Yeah," he smiled enthusiastically. He updated me on all of the guys on the bus, adding his personal opinion of momentarily before pointing out the next. He told me which ones to stay away from, which ones were Sean's friends and would watch out for me, others that would make exceptional acquaintances, but only one caught my attention.
"See that guy over there?" He pointed to somebody three seats away. I could only see the back of his head, which had messy black hair atop it. The blond next to him whispered something in his ear, causing him to glance at the back of the bus, his bleached blue eyes searching for something. A smile crept its way onto his mouth when his icy eyes flickered to mine. I quickly dropped my eyes, my cheeks reddening with embarrassment. Yet for the brief instant our eyes were connected, an emotion resurfaced but as quickly as the emotion entered my system, it disappeared. Yet my mind couldn't remove one of the many thoughts it had forgotten to take with it. Hermoso.
"That is Zane Knight."