"Aren't you a little young to be riding the bus alone?"
"No sir. I'm seven years old now."
The old black man leaned closer over the hard plastic seat and said, "That's what I mean. You're seven years old. Where are your parents?"
The little boy dangled his feet for a moment and then said, "Dead, sir."
The man sat back. "...Of all the tragedies in the world..." he murmured. "It pains me to hear that." He wrinkled his brow and looked now upon the boy with a heavy woe in his dark hazel eyes.
"Yes. It pains me too," the boy replied, looking at his feet. "But you must understand, I don't remember them at all. I have a grandmother who's cared for me."
The black man gave the little boy a raised eyebrow and huffed a laugh. "Well you are a well-spoken young man, now aren't you?"
"Some would say so, sir."
The man gave a chuckle and breathed a, "My, my," with a shake of his large head. "So you know where you're headed then, do you? Because this bus is direct to downtown."
"Well, that's where I'm headed, seven years old or not."
The man shook with another deep chuckle, and his face split with a smile. "Now do you have someone on the other side, waiting for you?"
The boy paused a moment, looking out of the window with bright, intelligent eyes. "Oh certainly," he said. "There's no reason for you to worry about that."