Story: The Forty-fifth

By: Mary Kaye Valdez

bus-sil

“Forty-two, forty-three, forty-four… Forty-four…” our bus driver, Bernie, counted dreadfully slow.

Please, say forty-five already.

“Forty-three? No, forty-two?” he recounted.

It was probably the fifth time he had been counting. It was also probably the fifth time I wanted to suffocate myself from his never-ending counting.

“Forty-two, forty-three, forty-four… Forty-five? Wait no, forty-four?” he continued.

The Lord was definitely testing me today.

“Oh dear, we only have forty-four. We’re missing one person… I think.” Bernie mumbled to himself.

If he planned on finding that person while mumbling like that, he could forget it. That person would be missing forever, then. Frustrated, I decided to take control. As soon as I had scooted myself out of the bus seat I was on, one of the wild kids had run into me. With his dirty chocolate fingers and all.

“Hey, watch it! I just bought this dress a few minutes ago! One of you kids already stained my other shirt last time!” I started to check up on my dress for any stains, “God, why can’t you kids stay still for a second? This bus isn’t a playground you know. You can’t just be running in and out of the bus!”

“Sorry.” the boy replied. He then squeezed himself through the people in the bus to go back to where his family was.

Our reliable bus driver should have been controlling them. But sadly, Bernie had a voice softer than a pillow and a presence weaker than air.

I then made my way to where Bernie helplessly stood. Still counting, of course.

“Hey, guys? Excuse me! Everyone, please be quiet!” I started waving my arms to get their attention, “Our bus driver is trying to make sure all of us returned from Camden! He thinks we’re missing someone. Can you guys check if anyone you know is missing?”

“Oh, I think the lady who sat in front of me hasn’t returned yet.” the boy’s mother from earlier answered.

“What did she look like?” I sighed. I really hoped no one would actually be missing.

“I sat behind her so I didn’t get a clear view of her face. I remembered her wearing a red shirt, though. She also had long black hair.”

Almost everyone started to search around the bus. Some started to discuss her possible whereabouts. While I just rolled my eyes back.

“It would be mean to leave her. Let’s all search in groups. It’ll be quicker than waiting for her here.” the mother suggested.

And that was exactly what we did. Sadly. We wasted about an hour searching almost every single shop in Camden. We even thought of searching one of the famous hairdressers in the area, just in case she got caught up in the wait. I knew I waited for a while for one of them when I went to get a haircut. Then, there were some of us who went to ask other people around, too. Even with all our efforts, we came back to the tour bus with her body still lost.

“Can we just leave her? She can catch a ride somewhere else! And anyway, we don’t even have any solid information on how she looks like. How are we supposed to look for her with such vague details?” I complained.

“Wait! I think I have something!” the boy blurted out, as he shared the photo on his phone with his mother, “There’s this lady looking down with a red top and long black hair. I think she got included when I was taking a picture of our family. Is it her, mom?”

“Yes, she’s definitely the one I’m talking about.” the mother replied.

“Let me see that!” I exclaimed as I had marched my way to the boy to see the picture.
After my eyes had landed on the face of the missing lady, I grew stiff.

“Is there something wrong? Does her face seem familiar to you?” the mother asked.

“Yeah, I’ve seen her recently actually.”

“From where?”

“My mirror… Right before I had changed into a dress and cut my hair.”

 

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