…or is that the forth time I’d been in this situation? As the bus trundled along the road, a speeding car hurtled in front of us, the sound of sirens splitting the air in the distance. We, all the passengers, noticed, and our cries of surprise sprung up as we watched the vehicle travelling ever closer. The driver, obviously prepared for these such things, managed to steer us out of the maniac’s path, but the movement meant that the bus veered onto the verge and collided with one of the trees that dotted into the many fields ofIreland. Smoke poured from its ruined bonnet.
Just as the bus collided, Aidan was shaken awake. His bemused expression made me chuckle despite myself.
“Meggie. Out!” True, the other passengers were almost at the side door, having sprung from their seats at a faster pace than I. Aidan ushered me in their direction, and we clambered out of the wreck.
It was only a small thing to hope that my journey would have continued without disturbance or pain, but I had made that hope nonetheless. However, my surprise that the hope had not been fulfilled was little. I didn’t take much to get my mother involved in destroying my life.
I shivered at the thought of her.
“Are you cold?” Aidan asked, misinterpreting my shiver in the wet weather, and taking off his jumper so he could sling it around my shoulders.
“I’m okay…” I muttered, playing with the emblem designed to be over the wearer’s heart: a crest with ‘Oxford University’ written above it and ‘St. Bennet’s Hall’ written in the midst of the crossed-keys and four birds. I’d never seen Aidan wear this fleece before, but already I was impressed.
The feeling that someone nearby was watching me drew my eyes away from the outfit (a partially blood-stained, ankle length, green dress did look better when a blue fleece was zipped over it). She was a bystander; at least, I hadn’t noticed her presence on the bus, and her neat pinafore did not have any smears of oil or smoke upon it like ours did.
“Well, I was actually looking for a bus, but this wasn’t what I had in mind!” she giggled.
I smiled at the girl and introduced myself. Slowly, the other members of the bus trudged their way over to her, forming a neat group by the side of the road. Even the driver Mai and I began to describe the bus, in a little story, as it had been at the beginning.
“This isn’t the first time…” Mai said with a smile, motioning to the mess of the front of the bus.
“We keep getting lucky escapes though…” I muttered, catching Erica’s eye by accident as I spoke. She flushed red, but, luckily, I was the only one to notice.
“Okay,” said the sprightly girl. “I can fix that!”
“Are you a mechanic?” I heard someone ask.
She walked over to the bus, studying it hard. As we all watched, the red, once-new bus changed form…into one of those classic yellow school buses! Next, I saw the bus change into a large rubber duck. The driver, about a metre away, rubbed his head, frowning. I bet, even with the luck of the Irish, he’d never experienced something like this before. Perhaps I could ask Mai to work some of her magic on the pure humans around us who didn’t believe in magic. A shape-shifting bus would be hard to explain…
Wandering back to the remainder of the group, Chrissy shrugged, muttering something rather like “I give up.” She came to stand back next to me and I watched her, friendly curiosity filling my eyes.
“No worries. We can find a new one,” Aidan remarked. If he had been irritated by the crash, Chrissy’s display had cheered him up now.
“How long do you think we’re gonna have to wait here?” the pixie named Chrissy asked me. She had pretty eyes, which I kept being drawn back to, and I could sense that, despite her appearance, she was another creature who diverged from the visible norm. Good. I liked some variation with nature.
“I don’t know. Still, I’m glad.” Suddenly, Erica was beside me too. “We needed something to do.”
“Erica…” Aidan began, before shaking his head at the girl. “Never mind.” A cheeky smile played on his lips.
Aidan slipped his hand into mine, letting my head loll onto his shoulder for a minute, before my indecision made me pull away. I couldn’t concentrate, and I wasn’t particularly keen on socialising. It might be a long wait in this middle of nowhere.