Conversation

It was an especially hot afternoon in Pinehurst that found Drew sprawled in a seat to himself on the bus, listening to his CD player. During a favorite song of his, the batteries ran out, cutting off the stream of music. He frowned and rummaged through his bookbag, searching for extra batteries. The search was in vain, however, as no batteries were to be found. He sighed and looked around, for maybe something of interest was happening. His gaze only alighted to the girl occupying the seat opposite his. She sat still with her hand resting on her backpack, the other in her lap, staring outside the window. He remembered vaguely that this girl was still on the bus when he himself departed, so she couldn't be looking for her stop. Dismissing the girl and her actions, he looked around a few more minutes before searching through his bag again for something to do. In short order, the bus stopped by his own house, and hegot off, noticing as the vehicle drove by that the girl was still staring out the window.

The day after, he noticed the girl doing the same, face emotionless, staring through the window as if it held the only interest in the world to her. If she ever looked away, it was only to investigate a disruptive sound and its source, maybe smile or grin, then go back to staring. Dang, girl, get a life! Drew couldn't help but think at times. One day, when the bus was mostly empty, he decided to ask the question that had been bothering him for a week.

"Hey, girl, why are you always starin' out the window?"

The girl looked away from the glass at instead gazed at the back of the seat in front of her.

"It's not something you'd be interested in." she replied, then went back to the window.

Drew frowned and snorted. "Well, maybe I want to know."

The girl looked from the window as she had before, gazing at the seat, and seemed to think a moment before she answered. When she did, it came tentatively and slowly.

"I'm looking for someone, and it's only out of the window I can find them."

The answer was cryptic, and when the girl looked resolutely back outside the window, Drew knew he could get no more of her at the moment. Thus, he went his own way for another few more days. Truthfully, he'd almost forgotten about her, but was once again reminded when he happened to look upon her in the same seat on the bus. He was still curious about her, dare he admit it. So, another afternoon, when the bus was near empty….

"Hey, you….what's your name?"

The girl nearly looked him in the eyes, her face registering slight surprise at the question. "Alice."

Another flicker of interest sprouted in Drew's mind. Alice was his sister's name, and he said so. This made the girl almost smile, like she did when seeing something of interest on the bus.

That afternoon, they talked about random things until Drew had to depart, and Alice waved a slight goodbye before she once again stared out of the window. That was one thing he could keep her from doing while they talked. He kept her attention from the window, but he always saw her start to stare out again whenever he left.

Drewgot online when he was done with his homework and chatted with people on AIM, posing the question of why, since he was now so very bemused. A few people thought he was acting strangely to ask such things, but a few others said that they used to be like Alice, and said she looked away from the window when he talked to her because she had a chance to interact without emotional hurt. They also said it was foolish of him to not have seen the answer right away. Accepting whatever results he acquired, he logged off and went about his day. The next afternoon, he talked to her some more, the subject being P.E, and how neither of them enjoyed all the running that was required. She was a very intelligent girl, this Alice, but she really wasn't much to look at. She had glasses, albeit thin ones, and, he shamefully noticed, wasn't very developed. Her clothing wasn't top-of-the-line either, but it seemed to suit her just fine. They were comfortable, she explained when they were more open with each other and he dared ask her about her wardrobe. No, Alice definitely wasn't like the other girls, obsessed with their appearance and looking as if they starved themselves daily.

There were points when Drew asked the real reason for her to stare out the window, and she always smiled weakly and gave the same answer as the first.

"I'm looking for someone, and it's only out of the window I can find them."

He almost got annoyed with the answer, having been given it so many times. Then, one day at school, he and a group of friends happened to chance by her. It wasn't on a very good occasion, however, for some boys were tugging at her hair and laughing when her head whipped around to defend herself. His brows furrowed and his friends became interested in what he was looking at. His sister, his own age, was there too, and she cocked an eyebrow.

"Hey, isn't that the girl you said had my name?" she asked.

Drew nodded. "Yeah. Looks like she's getting bothered…."

His sister frowned then, too, glaring at their group. "I'm going over there. No Alice I know of will be disrespected in such a way."

She began to stride over, and Drew, after a moment's hesitation, followed. He walked level with his sister and was the first to call out to one of the boys, who he happened to know.

"What're you doin', Sam?" he asked, hoping feverently his other friends were behind them.

The boys turned to look at their challengers, and Alice took her chance to slip away. A few colorful words ensued, both by the angry sister of Drew, and by the boys who were angry that their prey had escaped. Drew and his group had won, being larger in number than the three boys, who eventually shoved off, saying they had better things to do than talk to them. Alice thanked him on the bus, saying the boys didn't usually bother her, and was sure they wouldn't for a time yet, she added with a grin. Drew felt himself smile too. He had done a good deed that day, and a curious warmth lapped at his mind. Pride, he labeled it, at doing something good for another person.

She did ask why his sister didn't ride the bus, and he had to explain that it was because she hadclub things to do after school, and their parents picked her up later. She nodded as if she already knew what he was going to say, and almost looked back out the window.

Drew thought he might catch her off-guard by asking the question now, so he did.

"Alice, why do you look out the window like that?"

She was silent, and didn't even look at the back of the seat before her, and for a while, Drew wasn't sure she'd even heard him. Then, she turned from the glass and began to shift items in her bag around until she finally pulled out a piece of notebook paper. It was folded up and had his name hastily scrawled in black ink on the front. She handed it to him, and the bus lurched to a stop in front of his house. She didn't look at him as he stepped off the vehicle, wondering what the paper said, but she only stared at his figure framed in the window as she always had, but Drew didn't look back to see her, as he was busey opening her note. He opened the door, thenfroze.Drew looked after the bus in shock, having read what she had written. The paper dropped from his numb fingers, exposing it's contents to the world.

'I was diagnosed with Leukemia two weeks ago. Today was my last day at school, as tomorrow I have to go to the hospital to be treated. I could have gone the day it was discovered, but I said I didn't want to. I had a friend there, a reason to stay – you. Those two weeks were wonderful, having someone to talk to, someone to confide in. I only wish I could have stayed longer here, but I can't. The doctors say that I may live, but I have heard them speak otherwise. This is too painful a thing to say out loud, which is why I have it written. I may very well die, but I don't want you to feel sorry for me. So many other people pity me, and it makes me sick. Drew, you always ask why I look out of the window every day, oblivious to all around me, and I have given you the same answer – I am looking for someone, and it is only out of the window I can see them. I was looking for someone. I was looking for a friend, and itwas only by drawing your interest by staring out of the window that I could see you.

Cheers, Alice.'