Andrea huddled under the domed roof of the passenger shelter, failing to ignore the twin annoyances of misspelled graffiti and rain spattering on her legs. Stupid weatherman…twenty percent chance, my tuches. She wrapped her arms around her body, attempting in vain to keep out the cold breeze that whistled through a broken window.
An older gentleman sat on the bench, beard peeking out from behind a scarf as he devoured the latest novel featuring a long-haired bohunk and fainting maiden on the cover. An African-American woman in a business suit stood on the opposite side of the enclosure, ear buried into her cell while engaged in futile efforts to keep her six-year old from splashing in the rapidly growing puddles. Andrea avoided making eye contact with her fellow waitees, and they returned the favor.
She dared to let the hand closing her collar release so she could check her watch. The wind chose that moment to lustily gust, and she felt droplets of water running down her collar and into her cleavage. Idiot bus driver! He should have been here fifteen minutes ago!
An oncoming rumble and the sound of tires sluicing through mini-ponds along the sidewalk announced salvation. She stepped behind the old man, not quite under his umbrella, but close enough she could shield herself somewhat. Blue smoke belched as the bus rolled to a stop, familiar squeaks of the door extending the invitation inside. Andrea eagerly RSVP’d, as she hurried up the entrance steps.
“Sorry, folks. New to this route and got a little behind.” The bus driver looked familiar, but she couldn’t figure out how she knew him. Andrea shrugged off the nagging feeling as she searched for a seat. She frowned when she realized the only one left was directly behind and to the right of the driver.
“Sit down, lady, so we can go already,” some punk with a green mohawk and too much metal in his face spouted off. Andrea flushed red and eased onto the bench-seat. The bus jolted as it took off, and she dug into her purse for some tissues. She opened up her coat, sank her hand beneath her collar, and wiped the water from her chest.
The back of her neck prickled and she looked up to see the bus driver’s eyes on her in the mirror above his head. “Hey!” she snapped. “How about you keep your eyes on the road?”
The driver jerked his eyes down, and the nagging feeling she knew him returned, crawling up her spine. He just has one of those faces, Andrea. Keep it together.
She turned her thoughts to her baby, Sean. Six-years-old, he lifted her spirits every time she picked him up from daycare and he ran to her, arms wide, yelling, “Mommy!”
Conversely, it broke her heart every time she took him out and he would see other kids with both parents. “Mommy, where’s my Daddy?”
When those questions came, she wished she had a tale-teller’s talent for lies dressed as truth. How can I tell him he came from a one-night stand and a broken condom? I can’t, and I won’t. Ever.
The call of “Fourth Street” slapped her from her musing. She glanced at the bus driver one last time before scurrying off the bus. She strode quickly to the daycare center and signed in at the desk. “Mommy!” A small whirlwind of legs and arms wrapped around her waist.
“Baby!” She lifted him up to give him a hello kiss. The bus driver’s eyes stared back at her, and she gasped. “Honey, wait right here. Mommy forgot something on the bus!” She clasped her hands, silently pleading with the provider waiting to the side, as she backed toward the door. The daycare employee smiled. “It happens to everyone. Go on. I’ll watch him.”
Andrea bolted out the door, rain pelting her face, and ran down the sidewalk. If I hurry, I can catch him at the next stop. She skip-hopped as she pulled off her heels, then raced on at full speed.
The back of the bus filled her vision, and she saw the tell-tale smoke of it beginning to leave. She waved her arms frantically in the air. “Wait! Wait!”
The bus paused and the door opened. She reached the door and fell against it, using it to prop her up. “Sev-huff, huff-en years, huff, huff…son. Andrea.” She looked up the driver, eyes begging his understanding.
“I’m sorry, miss. I’ve never seen you before in my life.”
Andrea straightened as she regained her breath. “NYC, seven years ago. We slept together and I got pregnant. I never found you after that night. We have a son.”
Sadness and pain filled the driver’s eyes. “I have a nephew?”
Andrea opened her mouth, but words failed her as they so often did. The driver understood anyway. “You must be thinking of my younger brother, Michael. He went to NYC at that time, and everyone says we look so much alike we may as well be twins.”
Andrea eagerly leaned farther into the doorway. “Where is he?”
A tear rolled down the driver’s cheek. “He died from a drunk driver two years ago.”
Andrea stumbled backward at the news. Dizziness swept over her and her knees buckled. Callused hands grabbed her, gently lowering her to the ground. She stared at the now familiar eyes. “I’d like to meet my nephew, if you approve. I’d like to tell him about his father.”
She smiled and leaned her head against his now rain-soaked shoulder. “I think we’d both like that.”
For Today’s Author Write Now prompt. The prompt:
The bus driver looked familiar, but she couldn’t figure out how she knew him.
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