The next morning, the experience seemed like another bad dream. My mother seemed to have recovered from the worrying ordeal - luckily I didn’t have a bruise to set her off again. I supposed since this was her first time looking after me for several years she felt that she had lacked responsibility. I wasn’t very hungry so I left for the bus stop earlier than normal. The sky was just lightening from a dusky blue to dark grey, but by the time I had walked to the stop it had become a mass of light grey clouds. There was a biting wind which nipped at my face and whipped my hair about teasingly. When the bus arrived and I stepped into its welcome shelter, I was surprised to find Willow sat on it, close to the back. She waved me over and I sat down, thankful that the bus hadn’t pulled away before I had sat down. I didn’t need another accident.
“I thought your dad drove you?” I said, but it came out more like a question.
“He’s gone away for today,” she replied without hesitation. “This bus comes past my street. I didn’t know you got this one.”
She had been smiling, but the way she tilted her head and didn’t look at me directly told me more. I thought about Meena as well, and decided there was something odd about both of them that I just couldn’t put my finger on. I remembered suddenly that I had been attempting to follow Meena right before I fell.
“Willow - what do you know about Meena Azura?”
The words tumbled from my mouth in a rush. I stared unseeingly out of the bus window, fogged with condensation. It made the outside world look oddly misty. The dark shapes of people and vehicles moved around on the other side of the glass.
“When I said that I knew her, I meant that I had heard of her. I don’t know her personally. There’s nothing I can tell you.”
I was watching her carefully, for any tell tale signs; her hands twitched, as though tempted to curl into her fists, but her hardened eyes didn’t blink.
I relaxed into my seat as if I didn’t suspect a thing. Knowing the giveaways of a liar, I was an excellent actress at concealing them from others.
I was sure that Willow knew more about Meena’s odd patterns of behaviour than she was letting on. Either she was too stubborn to share what she knew or there was some secret between them that she wouldn’t - or couldn’t - divulge. I wanted to believe it was the first, but I was more inclined to believe it was the latter. Maybe I was just being paranoid. It was another trait of my mother’s, over-worrying about anything and everything. It wouldn’t be the first time I had stressed over nothing.
By the time the bus pulled over at the end of the school road, I had convinced myself that I was working myself up over a nonexistent problem. Willow and Meena were two ordinary girls who had only wanted to make sure that I wasn’t alone in this school. At the time, I wasn’t to know how wrong I would be.