M&M's To Share

M&M's To Share

It was four p.m., the librarians had kicked me out because it was closing time, and I was hungry. I should have gone home, but I wanted to wait for my friend Brandon at the bus stop. Lately he's been so busy that it's the only place to find him. I'm not about to ask him to meet me somewhere specifically – he has a girlfriend and it would be too much like going on a date, so all that's left is bumping into him in places and pretending it's a coincidence.

I went to a vending machine because the caf was closed and bought a mini-pack of M&M's. I wanted a Coffee Crisp bar, but M&M's are easier to share. Brandon always has some kind of snack with him: peanuts, dried cranberries etc. Once he had wolfberries – very chewy and a little sour.

Outside at the bus stop, other students were waiting, scattered across the side of the road in little knots, laughing and chatting. One guy was describing a hockey game to his friends; a girl was chirping into her cell phone, tossing her head every now and then so her short feathery blond hair bounced around. It was getting cold; if I looked up, I could see the clouds hurrying away, trailing long gray streaks like cloaks. I put up the hood of my pale blue coat and waited.

4:05. My stomach was complaining, but I knew if I started on the M&M's already I might not be able to stop myself, and have nothing left by the time Brandon came. I stood by the bus stop sign – 223 – facing the door. The chattery girl glanced at me and I looked away.

4:12. The good thing about waiting at the bus stop is everyone assumes it's the bus you're waiting for. Still, I felt awfully like a stalker. He knows I only live twenty minutes away from school and always walk home.

4:18. Ever since we've known each other, he seemed to like hanging out with me. He used to talk to me for hours: about his RPG group, politics, alternative medicine theories, the soap opera life of his sister's rabbits, Japanese mythology, anything! He can imitate any voice and any accent, and once mimed a gunshot so convincingly I flinched and we both laughed. What happened since then?

4:23. Maybe, I thought, it's too obvious. I always listen to him; I never interrupt even when he gets into his crazy conspiracy theories, for instance, whether Bush ordered the 9/11 attacks himself (not that either of us really believes that). I always show how happy I am to see him, with a big smile and a wave. And why shouldn't I? But maybe that's why he makes himself so scarce now.

4:26. I felt stupid. The bus would be coming at four-thirty, and even if Brandon did come, there wouldn't be any time left for a real talk. But I couldn't go; it was as if my sneakers were stuck to the cement. At least I'd get to see him: his solemn nod of greeting (he doesn't smile unless something is funny); the smooth confident way he walks in spite of his long lanky figure; his eyes, which are brown, but might have a spot of green in them (I've never looked close enough to make sure).

4:28. I wanted to at least hear his voice, which sounds like an average young man's voice at first, but when he gets going, he can paint pictures in the air with it. Also, he doesn't say like, y'know or um half as often as the rest of our generation. Whatever he says, he says it clearly and deliberately, and it's often just the right thing to say – but not always.

4:29. I wanted him to use that voice and ask me how I was doing; use that face to look glad to see me; maybe even get a little annoyed that we hadn't talked for so long. I stood there watching the door, watching for a certain dark green windbreaker; my hands were in my coat pockets, the right hand squeezed in next to the packet of M&M's in their crinkly plastic wrapper.

4:30. The flock of students, which had been growing steadily all the time, became agitated. "The bus is coming!" someone shouted. "Wow, it's even on time!" I could hear an engine rumble; something large, white and blue turned around the corner, came closer to reveal a real estate ad on the side, and stopped. There was a rush towards the opening doors; I stepped aside, trying to look inconspicuous in spite of my 1.71 metre height and my baby blue coat. I must have succeeded because no one seemed to notice that I wasn't following the others. I picked up my bookbag from the ground and left.

In the end I ate all the M&M's by myself. Maybe he wouldn't have liked them anyway. He's into healthy, organic food and you can't imagine anything less healthy and organic than candy from a vending machine.

The leaves were falling all around me, red and yellow, and all the dead brown ones kept crunching under my feet all the way home. I munched on multicolored chocolate until my teeth got fuzzy, but I was still hungry.