” Following A School Bus” ( short story) By F. Sheikh

Mostly I get up early in the morning and hit the road to go to work before school buses start rolling on road.  If you are stuck behind a school bus, on one lane each direction street, and it makes frequent stops to pick up the children, then it tests the limit of your patience, especially if you are getting late. Your eyes are focused on flashing stop sign sticking out of the side of bus. You are hoping and praying that soon the bus will make a turn on next street so you can move on.

 One morning last week, I got up late and by the time I hit the road to go to work, the school buses are already on the streets picking up children. Few streets before the local highway, where I usually make a turn, I encounter a school bus making a stop to pick up children. School bus stop sign is flashing red. I stop about 30 feet from the school bus. There are few cars behind me but no traffic from the opposite direction. My eyes are on flashing stop sign, and I am thinking—even if it delays people, but it is a good safety traffic law that all traffic should stop from both directions while the school bus picks up the children. While I am in this thought, suddenly a small school bus appears from the opposite direction and zooms by us without stopping.

I have ironic smile on my face and meanwhile school bus moves along. The bus is picking up small children for the elementary school. This time I am looking at the parents and children. Bus’s next stop is in front of a driveway, few feet before the next street. A mother with a child is standing near the curb and father is standing in the middle of the driveway, more near the house than the curb of road. Both are in sleeping gowns. The child is standing on left side of the mother and mother’s left hand is on the child’s left shoulder giving a gentle tug to embrace mom’s thighs. Father is looking more towards the house than the child or bus, and seems like was dragged out to prove his love. The child boards the bus, the mother is still standing and waving hands until the bus starts moving, but father has already waved, turned around and is near the house entrance door.    

On next stop, near a street corner a mother is standing holding child’s wrist with one hand and a lunch box in the other hand. The child boards the bus and mother tries to give the child the lunch box but he refuses to take it. Mother has a frustrating look on her face and child’s face and body is in slump posture in embarrassment. Perhaps child wants to eat school lunch and feels embarrassed to bring mommy’s lunch. The bus driver is waiting patiently with flashing stop sign for this stand off to resolve. Ultimately the mother gives up, waves with one hand and still holding the lunch box in the other hand. The bus moves on and I reach the entrance to local highway, I hesitate for few seconds to take the turn and want to follow the bus for few more stops, but make a turn on highway on my way to work.

f.sheikh