Bus Stop Birthday

This is a mini story I wrote in preparation for a writing workshop. Hope you enjoy. :)

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1. Morning

     I am waiting at the bus stop on Saturday morning when I see a yellow balloon drifting down the sidewalk. Closely following, a girl in a flowy blue dress is darting and dodging through the waves of people rushing her way. She nearly trips as she grasps the thin string attached to the balloon. She smiles to herself and looks around in embarrassment. Her eyes land on me and her grin grows wider.

     "Hello!" her voice is sweet and bubbly, like she isn't capable of yelling at you . . . almost safe. I make an awkward half-smile to let her know I acknowledge her, but no words come out. "May I sit?" she asks, gesturing to the open space next to me.

     "Sure." My voice comes out inaudible and croaky, (this is the first time I've spoken today) but she sits anyway.

     To the balloon she says, "Stop flying away from me!" To make sure it doesn't she ties the string around her wrist. "There." She turns to me. I'm not the talkative type, but either she doesn't seem to notice or she doesn't care because she plunges into the next question. "On your way to work?"

     I nod.

     "Where?" Ugh. Now I actually have to speak.

     "Uh . . . Lone Star Cafe on Fifth," my automatic answer now. Mom helped me get a job there on the weekends to start making some of my own money.

     She nods as is this is a cool thing to be learning. Then she just stares at me like I'm supposed to say something.

     I rack my brain for normal socialization procedures and I remember to be polite and ask, "How about you? You got a job?"

     "No, but I do make it my job to be there when my friends need me. I'm like their comforter. The one they go to with all of their problems. I'm an emotional sponge of sorts," she says.

     This makes me laugh. Not many things do anymore.

     "You sound busy," I say. Wow. Am I making conversation?

     "Sure am. I can't understand how I balance all that and school and still have time for Nature Hunting . . ." her voice trails off.

     "What's Nature Hunting?" I'm intrigued.

     "Well, you see, I'm a photographer. I enjoy seeing the beauty of creation. I want to keep it forever, capture it and keep it in my pocket. With my pictures, I can. I hunt the beautiful scenes of life that live right along with me." The balloon bobs up and down as she talks. "There are these amazing trees in my neighborhood and a creek that runs through my backyard . . ."

     I had never seen anyone so in love with something. I remember the balloon.

     "So what . . .?" I begin to ask, pointing at the balloon, a little sun to our conversation, overcoming the depressing clouds of the morning.

     "Oh, this." She remembers too. "So today is my friend's birthday and we have a joke about yellow balloons

and . . . yeah. See? I'm just the little buttress to their column." I laugh again, despite the fact that I have no idea what a 'buttress' is. "Anyway, I'm on the way to her house now to give her this and she made some cupcakes and we'll celebrate."

     "Oh, that's funny," I start to say.

     "What is?"

     "Well, today is my birthday too . . ."

     "What?! Really? Working on your birthday? That sucks. Wow, I should've gotten you a balloon too, but of course I didn't know we were going to meet each other this morning." She is rambling now. I stare at my shoes. I am interested in an ant crawling on my sneaker when I feel a tingling sensation on my hand.

     I look over to find she's tied the balloon to my wrist. She's smiling at me.

     "Happy Birthday."

     I grin back and the bus screeches to a stop in front of us.

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