It's that girl again. That strange girl.
She was frantically running, probably running late for school again. On her back, was her backpack, and slung across her shoulders, was another bag. Smaller though. I watched from my seat on the red bus, as she barely makes it to the doors of the bus, out of breath. She presents her bus pass, and the driver lets her in.
The bus shook and she managed to stumble her way to a seat on my left, and a few seats ahead of me. I put down my reading glasses, close my book, and rest my head on my hand, waiting for her to bring out her usual breakfast, a carton of chocolate milk.
It wasn't always a carton of chocolate milk though. Sometimes, she would pull out a big bottle of juice, and it would drip on her short hair whenever she hastily chugs it down. Twice, she even brought a zip-lock plastic filled with cereal and milk, and used a plastic spoon to eat. She would bring sandwiches and fruits and biscuits and noodles and even a sizzling slab of well-done steak once.
I see her pull from her pocket a brown carton of chocolate milk, as I expected. The bus shook, and she has troubles poking the straw through. She quietly sips on her breakfast, and looks out the window.
It's like this every morning. Only occasionally would people care to ask her about her... habits. I never see her with any friends, or even talking to anybody at all. To be frank, no one really cares about her.
The bus suddenly stops unexpectedly today. I look out, and I was pretty sure we were at least 5 miles away from school. The driver informs us of a flat tire, and I sigh. My hand instinctively reaches for my book, but halts when I see the girl snapping her hands, and looking regretful. It's almost as if I can hear her say, "Damn, I should've brought a steak today!" I laugh loudly without noticing myself, and I see her head turning.
I stop, and pretend to read my book. From the corner of my eye, I can see her glancing curiously around, while scratching her head. I giggle silently to myself now.
She shrugs, and continues to sip her chocolate milk. I notice her biting the straw. Only little kids ever do that. The bus' tire was temporarily fixed, and by the time we reach the school, the girl's head was buried in her arms, and her hand clutched the probably empty by now chocolate milk. Everyone starts to leave the bus, but she stayed like that. This doesn't look to good.
And just like that, I talked to her for the first time.
I tapped her shoulder, and she raised her head. "We're at the school now." I told her.
She nodded, and stood up. I led her outside the bus and she smiles at me.
"Thank you. You're a nice guy."
We stood there for a while, staring at each other, until I realized she was waiting for me to answer her.
"D-don't mention it." I eyed her hand. She was still holding the carton. "Haven't you finished your chocolate milk yet?" I stupidly ask.
She doesn't laugh, but her eyes told me everything. "Oh, right." She says and throws it to a nearby trashcan. As she walks away, she tells me, "And it was mocha-flavored chocolate milk!"
"Yeah." I reply. The bell rings, and as I ran, I think quietly to myself,
Mocha-flavored chocolate milk?