freshman bus stop -- creative nonficiton by Arianna Gandhi
At this moment, you are only sure of three things. You are fourteen, your bus is late, and your hands are numb. You think the clouds will cease their sobbing, that the gloomy October sky will clear up before your hair starts to frizz. You feel as though you are in limbo, with cold ears and even colder earbuds.
The first sign of warmth comes with a flannel-clad boy. He is tall, a year older than you, and captivating. You stare up into his eyes, as he places a hand on your shoulder. You recall watching him this summer, wasting the days away with too new, bright orange basketballs and cherry medicine-tasting drinks. His eyes are just as nice as you remember. Not Crayola crayon color ultramarine blue pools, but you still find yourself getting lost in the hazel paradise. You have never been all that great at keeping yourself from falling heart first.
Now, above your head, is a polka dot patterned umbrella. He crams his body underneath the small circumference of the tear blocker, his warmth radiating and pulsing near you. You think him to be magnetic. You whisper a silent prayer to whichever God decided to bless you today, not worrying about the missing geometry homework that you had planned to do on the bus. You are almost certain that being next to a man straight out of desi Teen Vogue magazines is much more important than your B+.
He takes your hand, pulls you out of the rain, and every point of contact on you feels like solar flares. You are red in the face and staring hard at his beat-up shoes. He traces the lines on your palm, amused. You are too easily flustered.
You are the sole enjoyer of cheesy Hallmark movies. You write initials of lovers in your notebooks because it is just as good as a declaration of love carved into tree trunks. You are hard to like and even harder to love. So you relish in the moment, drink in the touch like you have been caught under the scorching heat for eons. His presence spackles the holes in your heart, if only for a brief moment. You and him both know this won’t last forever.
Tomorrow, it will only be windy. Tomorrow, there will be no knight in shining armor with his sister’s umbrella. Tomorrow, you will go back to pining after the boy you’ve known for years; it is safer this way. Tomorrow, he will greet his girlfriend with open arms. Tomorrow, you will pass him in the B wing as you enter choir class and blush furiously. Tomorrow, he will do the same. Tomorrow, you will stuff down dreams of rain like extra notebooks in your backpack. Tomorrow, both of you will ache to feel your bodies on fire again.
You know you will never jump off the edge. You will never take the risks you should. You will miss 100% of the shots you don’t take and glare at the poster in biology that says you should keep shooting.
But today, at this moment, underneath this umbrella, you are only certain of three things.
You are fourteen, your bus is late, and
Your hands are no longer numb.
Arianna Gandhi is an unapologetic, queer writer from New Jersey who is longing for the return of summer and spends her days baking eggless desserts. Their past publications include bridge ink magazine, futureofus, and Sayreville Literary Magazine. Shamelessly pretentious, Arianna will not hesitate to tell you of a band "you've never heard of before". As a current junior in high school, her wishes are to get through pre-calculus and remain sane.