Sunday, May 17, 2015

BUS STORY # 445 (Portrait # 28: Honeymoon)

Photo by Busboy

The bus is pretty empty for this hour, but up front are two kids on the way to school with their dad.

The kids are little, maybe two years apart, maybe kindergarden and second grade. They’re in T-shirts and shorts, carrying skateboards and wearing helmets. The younger boy’s helmet has a friendly shark’s face on it, with a dorsal fin on top.

I’d put dad in his twenties. He looks like a kid, too, even with his mustache and chin beard. Black Rain T-shirt, olive green cargo shorts, and a skateboard of his own. No helmet.

The boys are sitting together on the bench seat facing the aisle. Dad’s in the aisle seat of the first row, leaning in toward them. He’s talking to them, and they’re listening and and talking back. He reaches out and gives the older boy a quick nose squeeze between two knuckles. The kid giggles with delight.

When we’re getting near the elementary school, dad stands up and peers through the front windshield. He surprises me when he pulls the cord himself; I was expecting him to tell the boys to pull it.

When the bus is stopped, the littler one runs and hugs his dad, and dad wraps him up tight and tells him to be good.

The older boy takes his turn. I can see his face and it says he’s loving having his dad to hug on. And then before letting go, he puts his mouth to dad’s head, just above the ear, then he’s off to the front door.

Dad follows them to the door. He tells them to be good, and he’ll see them right here after school’s out. Then he walks back down the aisle, following them as they walk along the sidewalk toward the crosswalk. He doesn’t sit back down until they are out of sight.

It’s heartwarming. I love how special this moment is to all three of them, and that is when I realize this is not a routine seeing-the-kids-off-to-school experience. This is more like being in love.

I look for a wedding ring and see no rings at all, except for an earring in the left ear I missed earlier.

A story begins to take shape: a daddy who’s just come back home and it’s the honeymoon... But is it just a visit or is he gonna stay? Other stories suggest themselves: an idolized big brother also back home, or maybe a favorite uncle. Or a new daddy audition.

But I see again the kid’s face when they’re hugging, and then the kiss.

Daddy.

He’s moved across the aisle now, sitting two rows ahead of me, his back against the window and his feet up on the aisle seat, scrolling through his smart phone. I feel the honeymoon wilting like a midmorning moon flower.

Mine and his. Mine because I have romantic tendencies, his because the kids are gone now. What else is left but prosaic real life?

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