The Lindsey parents and their children stood inside of the bus depot along with Tabitha. She bent down and let the children hug her.
“Are you sure you coming back, Miss Tabitha?” Jamil eyed her. She laughed and hugged him tighter.
“Of course! I’ll be back for all the holidays so don’t cry. I have to go to school… just like you guys are about to.” she tried to cheer them up. She gave them one last squeeze and turned her attention to their parents. Albert, forever the Marine, stood straight-faced as his wife dabbed at the corners of her eyes, a sign that Tabitha knew meant she was trying to keep her tears from falling. She sighed, “Doc… don’t do this…” she warned.
“I know, I know; I’m sorry! I can’t help it; I’m gonna miss you, Tabs!” she couldn’t stop the tears from falling. Tabitha gave her a huge hug.
“I just… I just wanna say that if it wasn’t for you, Jamila… I’d probably still be in that alley. I owe you so much for that. I’m gonna miss you, too…” she half-whispered. She couldn’t cry in front of the children although their mother was making it very difficult not to. She stopped hugging her and smiled, “I still don’t know how you got me enrolled…”
“Don’t worry about it; just know that you’re gonna be a student!” Jamila sniffed and wiped at her eyes. Tabitha nodded a bit and looked at the professor’s husband.
“Good riddance, huh?” she asked him. He smiled to her surprise.
“I never thought that. For my kids to get so attached to you so fast… you’re good in my book! Good luck, Tabitha; we’ll see you soon.” he surprised her yet again by giving her a hug. She picked up her only bag and started walking towards the door leading to the gates.
“Oh, Tabs, wait; I almost forgot!” the professor ran up to her. She handed her an ID card, “Your new life.” she smiled. Tabitha looked down at the driver’s license and looked at Jamila.
“A new ID?”
“Yeah. Don’t need people probing into your past. When I enrolled you, I changed your last name; you needed an ID to fit it.” she explained. Tabitha took another look at the ID and noticed the change in the last name: Lindsay.
“Wait… how’d you do this…”
“I wasn’t always teaching physics; that’s all you need to know! Now, don’t miss your bus!” the professor winked and hurried her out the door. Tabitha could only glance at her for a moment and then head to her designated gate. She took her seat and looked out the window as the Lindseys watched the bus pull out of the terminal. Tabitha waved until she could no longer see them, finally letting a tear drop down her cheek. She studied her new Tennessee driver’s license.
“You were right… the good ol’ doc took care of me…” she whispered and settled in for the long ride.