She sat in seat 18.

He sat in seat 17.

He was the very first stop. He could have sat in any seat he wanted, but he didn't. It wasn't because, though in high school, sitting close to the bus driver was uncool. No, he sat in seat 17 because she sat in seat 18.

She wasn't an earth-shattering beauty. They weren't long lost friends. In fact, if they weren't on the same bus, he wouldn't have known she existed. He didn't see her after they got off the bus, she disappeared into the crowd.

That's why he liked the bus. She was there. He didn't know her, but he wanted too. He would sit in his seat, she would sit in hers. She would look out the window, studying the same scenery day after day. He would sneak glances at her pretty face.

One of these days, he would always think, I'm going to talk to her.

He would, too. It was all planned out in his mind. It would be spring and the sun would be out. He would feel odd and out of place, because he would be sitting in a different seat – the seat in front of her. She would be confused as to why he had moved, but would sit down anyway.

He would turn, say something. She would look up from her slouched position, her attention caught by his movements. She would watch his lips move, forming the simple words in his mind. Then, she would remove her earphones, turn off her i-Pod and smile. He would wonder what she had been listening too. Then, he would repeat himself, say 'hello'.

She would say 'hi' back.

They would keep talking. Something would happen. They would realize that they had a lost in common. He would make her laugh. She would make him think. Out of this would come, what? Love? No, that's not what he wanted from her. he would like friendship, he admitted this to himself, but what he really hoped for was a peek. He wanted to see under the mask of the silent, near invisible girl who was across the bus aisle from him every day.

One day, he got on the bus. She didn't. He sat, chilled by the winter. He watched a flighty middle school girl take her seat. He didn't look at seat 18 that day. He closed his eyes, and imagined the spring day when they would finally speak.

She wasn't on the bus the next day.

Or the one after that.

Or the one after that.

Or the one after that.

Throughout the weekend, he held his breath, counting the moments until the bus arrived. He had gotten a text, saying that a loner in the school had committed suicide. A small part of him thought it was her. The rest of him panicked at that. It couldn't be her; they hadn't gotten to talk yet.

Monday, the sun was out. The air tasted of spring. He sat in seat 16, the one in front of seat 18. He felt odd and out of place in the seat that was not his. The bus stopped. She got on.

She paused in the aisle, her gaze sliding around. To him, to his old seat, to her seat, double checking that he hadn't stolen her spot. Satisfied, she sat. He waited for the bus to start moving.

He turned around.

She looked up.

He said something.

She turned off her i-Pod.

He said 'hello'.

She said 'hi' back.