13 Years Ago

The line of yellow school buses seemed to go on forever along the side of the high school. All the freshman were divided by classroom and were led on to their corresponding bus. Most of the kids were laughing and talking, snickering when they got the dirty look from their teacher. This was the first field trip of the year, who wouldn't be excited?

I sat towards the middle of the bus and out in the aisle where I could turn around and talk to everyone. I loved to talk. This was my element and I fit in perfectly. I cracked a joke a little too loud and heard my name called above the others. 'Sorry!' I yelled to whomever had called out before giggling and looking around, taking in the scene. All around me were the kids I'd gone to elementary school and middle with. There were only a handful of kids that had come in from the middle school across town and even they blended well with my group.

I turned to laugh at someone else's story when something caught my eye. There, in the front of the bus. A girl sat by herself, her hair in braided pigtails, facing forward. How lonely that must be! How unacceptable!

Excusing myself from my crowd, I carefully made my way to the front of the bus, second row back.

"Can I sit here?" I asked the young girl sitting there.

Without looking up, she nodded and slid closer to the window.

I sat down and introduced myself. "Hi, I'm Alexiana. How's it going?"

The other girl just shrugged. "Good."

I looked at her. Her clothes were clean and pressed and definitely didn't show wear and tear. She wasn't staind or frumpled. The girl didn't seem to have any difficulties, but maybe she was just shy. "Are you new?"

The dark haired girl nodded her head and hugged her backpack closer to her.

"That's cool. I wish I was somewhere else." No reply. The girl didn't seem to be overly chatty.

I wouldn't be thwarted however. I was great at talking to strangers and breaking the ice and if anyone needed a friend it was this lonely girl in the second row who wore glasses and didn't talk much. Then the lightbulb turned on over my head and I couldn't help but grin.

"Have you ever pet a bobcat?"

The girl next to her swung her head around a looked at me for the first time. Yeah, she was nerdy, but she had a friendly face. Maybe a bit prudish, but I could work with that.

"No, have you?"

I nodded. "My dad is a trucker and his friend raises them as pets for people."

"Really? That's neat. I'd be afraid to do something like that."

Haha! I cheered inside, see, easy peazy. "Nah, they're really friendly. As I said, he raises them as pets for people. My dad says some guys have them in their trucks instead of guard dogs."

The other girl seemed to digest this. "I just moved here from Venezuela."

"Oh, cool! Are you from there?" I was instantly jealous. How awesome would that be? To travel the world!

She shook her head. "No, my family moved around a lot. I went to first grade here."

"Nuhuh! Me, too!"

"I'm Arabella, by the way."

"Haha, nice to meet you!"

For the rest of the bus ride we sat and talked of our earlier years and some of our hobbies. Arabella had three siblings, two younger and one older. I had a younger brother. Arabella liked to read and watch old time movies. I liked to read and watch new movies. Arabella and I both played the piano, but Arabella still studied it and I quit years ago. Arabella was a straight A student, I could be, but had no interest in it. I kept my grades just high enough to stay in the higher level classes.

"We should be friends!" I proclaimed, thinking she might just be fun enough to know a bit more.

"Um, yeah, sure," replied Arabella hesitantly.

I just laughed. I just loved new friends!