I plunked my bag down on the front seat of the bus and slid in after it. Crossing my legs to get in a more comfortable position, I snuggled into the padded back of The Seat. I could hear the buzzing chatter of teenagers from behind me, excited voices telling each other about their plans for tomorrow when the holiday would start. Pulling my purple iPod out of my blazer pocket, I plugged the earphones in and cranked the volume up. Bruno Mars’ voice filled my head, blocking out my loneliness.You can count on me like one two three, I’ll be there...sang the sweet voice from my iPod. I wished. There’s almost no one I could count on then. Not since I got condemned to The Seat.
The Seat became The Seat when Jordan got hit by a car on his way back from work. Jordan was my brother, an exceptionally nice brother who was one year older than me. He was the one who would always come in to comfort me when I cowered beneath my duvet in a thunderstorm, the one who would laugh at my newest knock-knock joke, and the one who had always sat here in The Seat. It used to be the place where he sat with his girlfriend, but she had moved school since the accident and I got promoted to The Seat instead. I used to sit with Faith and the gang at the back of the bus, but after the accident there was such an awkward air hanging over the backseats whenever I came there that I eventually chose to sit alone instead. It was as though Jordan’s accident was contagious, and everyone just wanted to keep as far away from his family as possible.
The song faded out, and for the split second before the iPod shuffled onto the next song I heard a million different stories. The voice of Jamie Anderson reported loudly the score of last night’s football game. I mentally took note of the score, so that I could tell Jordan that our team won when I visit him next in hospital. Haley Fisher’s ringing laughter reached my ear along with the really bad pun that made her crack up. I could hear Faith’s clear voice telling the others of our weekend, and smiled a little when she checked herself just in time to not reveal our secret. Faith had never been really good at keeping secrets, and frankly I was very surprised that she had managed to keep our secret this long.
The bus came to a screeching stop and the door swung open. I grabbed my bag and jumped off the bus, heading towards the school. My heart felt light and my steps almost have a spring to them. It was the last day of school after all, and I could not wait for the summer break. Perhaps when September comes again Jordan would be released from hospital and everyone would forget about the accident. And then my life could be normal again, where the jolly Grace could be jolly instead of lonely.
“Gracie! Got any plans for the holidays?” said a deep male voice.
“Tobey! No, just staying home,” I replied, feeling so happy that he initiated the conversation, “Besides the usual family trip down to Disneyland. You?”
“Got some plans with the guys to go to Cali to surf,” he said, his mouth curving into his easy smile, “And the rest of the time I’m just hanging around here. Perhaps getting a summer job down at Gloria’s.”
“Oh really? That’s exciting! Wish I could come,” I told him, slipping seamlessly back into my old self, “We should meet up some time, before you leave for Cali.”
“Definitely!” he said, “How does next Friday sound to you? There’s a concert down at Firenzes Arena, and I’ve got a couple of free tickets.”
“Sounds good! Do you have enough tickets for me to take Faith along as well?” I asked.
“Yep. You and Faith are inseparable aren’t you?” he said, “Well, apart from now. Talk of the devil, here comes Faith.”
“Grace! You said you would wait for me,” Faith pouted, her cheeks still pink after rushing after me.
“Sorry love,” I apologized while grinning at her. This is excellent, I am slipping back almost all the way to my old self.
“You are going to pay,” she joked, winking at me, “Hey Tobey.”
“Hey,” he said, nodding his head in her direction.
“Well, we’re late for Calculus so you must excuse us,” she told him, dragging me along with her to the third floor where the Calculus class was held.
“Bye Tobey! I’ll see you later, if not then next Friday!” I yelled back at him. He waved back just as we rounded the corner.
“What’s next Friday?” Faith asked.
“Tobey’s taking us both to a concert at Firenzes Arena,” I told her, “Isn’t it exciting? This morning’s been excellent! Someone actually acknowledged me as more than ‘that girl whose brother’s in an accident’.”
“Friday? You can’t be serious!” Faith almost yelled at me.
“What’s wrong with Friday?” I asked, confused.
“Don’t you remember? It’s our coronation anniversary in Erimont on Friday,” she said, her voice disappointed, “Our people will be throwing a feast and a festival in the honour of their Ladies, you can’t just ditch it for some concert!”
Oopsies, I forgot about that...