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Her from the Bus

by Junel


She sat in the same seat every day. I sat across from her. Her backpack was set up against the side, her back resting against it. But she looked out the window, her brown hair shielding her face from view. Her headphones were plugged in, and throughout the ride her phone would buzz with incoming texts.

At her stop she was quick to get off. I don’t know where she stopped walking, only that it was uphill from the stop. Snow, rain, or burning sun, she would begin to walk, and continue until she was out of sight.

At first I was simply being observant, but that changed. One day I couldn’t help, but want to know more, and intervene if needed. That was the day I said hi.

At my words, she turned to me quickly, a small smile flickering across her mouth before she spoke her reply. It was almost silent, but I heard her hello back. And then she was gone again, walking up the road, again.

Her brief smile was beautiful lighting up everything inside her, but everything else showed pain. Her eyes were red, tears present on her cheeks. Her hair had been covering more of her face than normal, in an attempt to hide her broken state.

I didn’t know what had upset her, or how to help, but I wanted to find out.

The next day I found myself searching for her everywhere. In the hallways, in the cafeteria, anywhere I went in hopes of catching a glimpse of her. I didn’t that day, not until we were on the bus again.

I tried to gain the courage to speak again, but I couldn’t, not until she was leaving. I said hi and she whispered her hello back with the sweetest smile.

It became the tradition, most days she seemed happy, but slowly the tears became more and more present.

I found myself searching for her more persistently. I walked different routes to my classes, slower and faster. I would get up at lunch to wander. My mind was slowly being taken over by the mystery that was the girl.

I thought about speaking to her on the bus. Asking for her name, asking how she was, but I could never work up the courage to open my mouth. Not until it was almost too late.

Months passed by and I was nowhere closer to knowing her, or why she cried. Never venturing beyond our simple words.

It was the last day before winter break, the last day I’d see her for weeks. I kept opening my mouth to say something, I was determined to, but no sound would come out. Instead, I just sat there staring at her. It was a cold day, I had my winter coat on, but she only had her denim jacket, the same one she’d worn most days since the warmth of summer had disappeared.

For being done with finals, and free for a time, she seemed just as upset as she had many other days, if not more so. When she gathered her stuff quickly like any other day I finally was able to speak.

Happy holidays I told her. Her smile was briefer than normal, falling away as quickly as it appeared. With a whispered you too she was gone, leaving me hopeless to understand.

Throughout the break she consumed my mind, her sweet smiles, and sad tears haunting my dreams. I knew that the next semester I would have to do something.

On the first day, my dreams were realized. As I walked into my first class, she was there. Her head was looking down, onto her phone. Her hair concealed her features, but that was normal. She sat in the middle, not hiding in the back like many, but not eager to be in the front.

In front of me another girl had entered. She sat next to her and they conversed quietly for a while. I moved carefully, sitting in the back with only one desk between me and the girl whom I was always thinking of.

When it came time for attendance I listened carefully. No one else cared to, except for when their own names were called, but I did.

Ana. So simple, so perfect.

She never stopped smiling throughout the class. Listening when important, but giggling with her friend when the teacher stopped teaching. It was her, and yet the girl in front of me felt very different from the one I saw on the bus. This one was more perfect, but I didn’t know if it was real. I didn’t care if it was real, but I hoped, for her sake. I wanted her happiness to be real.

That day I asked my friends about her. Only one of them knew who she was.

She was a year younger, but smart. That’s why she’d been in my class. She was friends with a random lot, most of which I’d never heard of. She had been to most social events, but her friends from school were never with her. Instead, it was other people, and never the same for each event, always different. She seemed to get along with a lot of people.

She was in her seat when I climbed on the bus that day. She was texting like normal, but her headphones weren’t present, They were plugged into her phone, but just sat lamely on her lap.

Hey, I said. She looked up quickly, her eyes filling with joy. I'm John.

Ana, she told me. Her voice, soft and beautiful. I returned her smile, before sitting down. As I did she put her headphones in, and turned to the window. I watched her for a while, before she turned to me, flashing her smile. With my own we both turned away.

That day when she got off I said bye instead of hi and along with her own parting she gave me a small wave.

We continued like this for the next couple weeks. Saying hello when I arrived before she put in her headphones, and saying goodbye when she got off. She smiled more and cried less, but once or twice I could see slight hints of sadness.

It wasn’t until she spoke in class that it changed. That day when I passed her to sit down, in my self-chosen seat, she turned away from her friend and greeted me. Hi, John was all it took to wake me up from my morning dull. Hi, Ana was all it took to make her smile grow until it filled her eyes.

When I sat down I could hear her friend's giggles more evident that normal, and Ana’s face grew red just slightly. That made me smile. She began to turn to me during class, the smallest of glances to accompany her smiles.

Spring break was near when the next change occurred. Neither of us would make it. After our morning greeting, I began my short trek to my seat, but her friend spoke, stopping me. Sit, she told me. I answered her with confusion. She pointed to the empty seat next to Ana, along with some unheard explanation.

I only searched Ana’s face for approval. She looked at her friend reprimandingly, but when she turned back to me she just smiled, her cheeks tinted red. I took that as an approval and sat.

We didn’t speak directly, but I could feel her proximity, so close to me. I wasn’t able to watch her as much as I had before, but I didn’t care.

That afternoon she didn’t put her headphones in. Instead, she asked me how I was. After I responded though, she didn’t give me a chance to ask it in response before blocking me out with her headphones. That day there were tears on her face when she got off.

For the rest of the year we went on quite similarly as we had before. Only occasionally with the addition of her asking about my well being, but never did I get the chance to ask it in return.

The last day I felt tense. I knew that after that I wouldn’t see her again for months. I knew that she would be haunting me all summer. After first period she turned to me, instead of walking out with her friend.

I won’t be on the bus today. Have a good summer. She told me. She was turning away by the time I had processed her words, my you too, just slipping out hardly noticed as my brain rushed.

Could I let her go like that? But I did, and after composing myself I moved on to my next class. 


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10 Reviews


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Reviews: 10

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Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:21 pm
camusic says...



I enjoyed reading this so much please continue it!! You should have them meet somewhere randomly in the summer or have one of her friends set her up with him!! Please continue I want to know what happens!! To all guy reading this say hi can be all it takes for a girl to like you at least with me some girls are jerks and will let you know they don’t like the jerks they are but us shy ones won’t be able to stop thinking about it. Just saying. Keep writing this was so cute!!




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10 Reviews


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Reviews: 10

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Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:20 pm
camusic wrote a review...



I enjoyed reading this so much please continue it!! You should have them meet somewhere randomly in the summer or have one of her friends set her up with him!! Please continue I want to know what happens!! To all guy reading this say hi can be all it takes for a girl to like you at least with me some girls are jerks and will let you know they don’t like the jerks they are but us shy ones won’t be able to stop thinking about it. Just saying. Keep writing this was so cute!!




Junel says...


Thanks! I have had the next two parts written for awhile, but I really don't think they are as good as this one and so have been letting them sit and I'll probably edit and eventually post... hopefully soon.



camusic says...


YAY!!



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Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:38 am
YingYangGroove78 wrote a review...



This is a lovely piece. the images you conjure are clear and concise; giving the reader only simple details of the bus, the girls appearance and actions is enough for us to get what's happening and easily follow the course of events.

More details of the setting of the characters (college) is only revealed later on in the text, and I feel this would have been mentioned earlier on to make it clearing what age they are. it would also make the 'searching for her down hallways and in the cafeteria' make more sense. When I read this I thought what hallways and cafes? on the street?

I also found the pace of events quite slow, with the story taking to much time to move forwards; and even when the characters interaction with each other did develop and lengthen not enough action was involved in my opinion.

Overall this is a good piece, keep it up!




Junel says...


Thanks for the review!



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Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:24 am
Carina wrote a review...



Heya! It's been a heckuva long time since I did a review, and I was feeling some sappy romance shorts today, and thought this one deserved a review.

I'd first like to say that I thought this piece did a great job portraying the reality of unchased crushes and admirations towards people. Romance stories usually involve the following: person meets person, they crush on each other, they go on dates, they fall in love, everything is happy. However, the brutal reality of it all is that most of the time, crushes remain just that: crushes. It is rare to see a romance story about a mutual/one-sided crush and have it lead nowhere, so I thought this story was refreshing to read, especially since most romance shorts are a bit cliche and follow the above formula.

Anyhoots, there is always room for improvement. The major thing I noticed was that there was a lot of action, but not enough emotion. This may not be as important for, say, an adventure or action short, but because this is romance (which is an emotion), this is VERY important. It may be easier to explain with an example. Consider the two possibilities:

He moved the chair to the right of him and sat down.

and,

He dragged the chair quickly across the ground then sat down, sighing in relaxation.

These two sentences basically say the same thing, but the latter is much more vivid than the former. Colorful words and adjectives will really breathe more life into this short story and engage readers to keep on reading.

Here is a bit that I thought did a great job doing that:

"Throughout the break she consumed my mind, her sweet smiles and sad tears haunting my dreams."


Side note: the section comma after 'smiles' was deleted since it wasn't needed. Speaking of nitpicks...

"... her friend spoke, stopping me. Sit. She told me."

Should be:

"... her friend spoke, stopping me. Sit, she told me."


I really liked the use of italicizing in this piece! It was a nice touch to your style. However, if you want to exchange quotation marks for italicizing for dialogue, then you must follow the same dialogue punctuation. Basically, follow the same rules as if it were quotation marks.

This part is my favorite, and the italicizing makes it more powerful, in my opinion:

Hi, John, was all it took to wake me up from my morning dull. Hi, Ana, was all it took to make her smile grow until it filled her eyes.


(... I added the commas to make it follow the rules!)

That's pretty much all I have to say with this piece! Again, I liked that it left me with a bittersweet ending rather than a cheesy happy one. However, if you end up writing a continuation, feel free to write on my wall and let me know. I would be happy to read it and review. :) Hope this helped.

Cheers,

Carina




Junel says...


Thanks for the review!



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Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:37 pm
neptune wrote a review...



Hey there, Junel! I will be reviewing your short today! Let’s dive right in, then! :D

Before I start, I have a quick idea/theory. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Ana’s perspective? It would be a nice twist to the story if the second part were her point of view. She seems very mysterious and I would love to get to know her more. Because she is so mysterious, you did a great job of keeping the reader (or at least me) hooked for the next part. Now I have to wait for the second part to discover more about her. That being said, let’s begin. :)
Right off the bat I can tell this is a cute contemporary short story. You do a very good job of keeping this theme and genre throughout the whole story. However, I think you could work on a few things.
Grammar and punctuation was definitely lacking in some spots. I’m not saying it’s horrible, just that it’s an unedited piece like many other pieces. I don’t usually like to spend a lot of time focusing on this topic, but consider it for a final draft!
Kind of going along with what I was saying about grammar and punctuation, is that when you’re using dialogue, you’re not consistent with quotations or not. You tend to switch back and forth and I’m not sure why? Does it affect some kind of mood or theme? I suppose it doesn’t matter if you’re consistent or not, but I do have a suggestion — when you don’t use quotations, italicize the dialogue so it’s easier to make out what’s being said. I found that it was an issue for me to be able to read when dialogue runs with everything else. That shows clearly in this sentence:

She was turning away by the time I had processed her words, my you too, just slipping out hardly noticed as my brain rushed.

It took me a couple times reading this until I finally realized what you were saying. Maybe that’s just me, but if the dialogue isn’t separated in some way, it become difficult to read.
Lastly, in my opinion, the ending could be improved. I love the concept of her “leaving,” but the way it’s written could be better. I definitely believe you should keep “could I let her go like that?” The remainder of the last paragraph seem to be not as strong as the rest of the story.

I do really love the concept of this story. It’s a cutesy, quick story that is easily enjoyable. I don’t think I’ve reviewed many short stories, so do forgive me if this wasn’t the best. I had a good time reading this! You portrayed theme very well, which I respect. Thank you for sharing this story with us! When the next part is out, please let me know. Maybe I could review that one! ;)
If you have any questions, please let me know, and keep writing! :)
neptune




Junel says...


Thanks for the review! I'll definitely let you know when I post the next part.



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Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:46 pm
LadyOkra wrote a review...



Months past by


Past should be "passed".

There are some places you have written "with" as "WIth". Not a very jarring error.

I feel that there are some sentences that don't sound very well constructed. For example:

After our morning greeting, as I began my short trek to my seat, her friend spoke stopping me.

She looked at her friend reprimanding,


I would suggest you to have a look, dig out the sentences that sound strange and rephrase them!

Moving on. I like the story. I want to know what happens to Ana and John. I want to know why Ana is sad. I want to know what it is in Ana that attracts John. I want to know more about John. I know that he watches Ana, but why?

The development is painfully slow, but I hope you have more in store for us.

Give us more. I know it is difficult to describe things and show us, rather than tell when it comes to a first-person point of view in a story. But try! Give us more juicy details. The inner working of John's mind, not just simply what he does.

There is infinite potential in this story. There is so much to do!

I wish you good luck. Keep writing.

Cheers!




Junel says...


Thanks for the review! These kind of things are why I really shouldn't edit my writing at 1 in the morning haha. This story is supposed to be slow, seeing as the people in it are super slow to make any sort of action. It also is supposed to be a lot more telling, but I see how those things can be annoying so I'll try to edit it a bit.




Journeys end in lovers' meeting.
— William Shakespeare