She sits next to me on the bus. She has quite a pretty smile, and has hair that goes down past her shoulders. I don’t talk to her and just look out the window instead. I don’t know why she is sitting next to me. Not really. She doesn’t say anything and pulls out a book about bunnies or something. I’m not really paying attention and I don’t really care. I wish she hadn’t sat next to me. Then I could stretch my legs out. I hate the bus ride to school.
Her hair is shorter now. She got it cut over summer. It looks okay. This year we have English together. I only know this because I saw her scanning her schedule. She seemed pretty nervous. I probably won’t talk to her in class because we still don’t talk on the bus. I sometimes wish she sat somewhere else, so I could stretch my legs out. It is nice to have company, though. None of my friends take this bus.
For the start of junior high she dyed the ends of her hair blue. It’s a pretty color, but I’m sure how much I like it. She sits down next to me again, reading a book about dragons. If I like reading I would have asked if it was any good and if I should get it, because I do like dragons. I don’t though. Instead I stare out the window and wonder if we’re going to have classes together this year. I’m not ready for junior high, at all.
Her hair is done up in a knotted braid for the first day of school, with those hair wispies girls like to pull out to frame their face. She’s made some new friends over the summer that take our bus. So she doesn’t sit next to me on the bus, but instead next to Marie, who likes wearing bows in her hair and batting her eyelashes at boys. She says she’d sit here tomorrow. Okay. I don’t really need to stretch out my legs today, even though there's space. She’s talking to Marie about something instead of reading and I wonder what book she has in her backpack. I still don’t like reading though.
Her hair is just past her shoulders again, and I notice how the ends curl a little. It smells good too, but of course I don’t say anything and instead tilt my head every once in a while so I can catch the scent. Marie sits at the back of the bus with her other friends, so she sits next to me. I don’t know if they’re still friends. She doesn’t say anything, like usual, but she taps her fingers on her knee as if there’s imaginary music playing. I glance away and stare out the window, then look back. She pulls out a new book, one with gilded gold edges, and I ask if she’s enjoying it. She shrugs and says it’s decent and at least it makes the world quieter. I say okay and look back out the window.
Would you like to borrow a book? She asks the next year with inquisitive eyes. I tell her I don’t read and she harrumphs as if that’s the worst thing in the world. I still think about how she said it makes the world quieter. I disagree. I ask what happened to Marie because I still don’t know why they’re not friends anymore. She doesn’t say anything, just examines her nails. They’re perfectly done, with a nice purple paint and a shiny glaze. Where are your friends? She asks instead. I tell her they’re not on this bus. How come I don’t see them at school? She asks. I tell her Sam moved away two years ago. So you don’t have any friends? She asks. I don’t know how this switched to me. I don’t respond and watch out the window as we whizz by trees. For a second, I considered her my friend, but then I realize how much I truly don’t know about her; I know her hair changes every summer and she’s got a pretty smile and she loves to read but that’s truly about it. I wonder if she considers me her friend.
The last year of high school she cut her hair really short, shorter than it’s ever been. I ask her on the bus why she did it. She says her sister accidentally cut her own hair and the barber had to cut it really short to fix it so she cut hers too, in solidarity. I tell her I think it looks quite nice, because it does. She shrugs and pulls out a book, and then a second for me. It’s the one she said was decent, and at least makes the world quieter. I don’t like to read but I open it and start reading anyway. The world feels quite louder reading the soup of words, but I don’t want to stop reading because she’s sitting right there probably watching me. I can see her hand out of my side vision and notice her bitten nails: they’re no longer neat and tidy glossy purple. Aren’t you going to read your book? She asks me, looking up. I ask if she remembers that I told her I don’t like reading, and she says yes I do. I don’t know what to say then so I look out the window. Last year, huh? She says and I can hear her smile. I shrug. She pokes my arm and says you can keep the book even though you don’t like reading. For memories. I turn around at that and see her pretty hair curled by her nose and her bright eyes smiling and I say okay, sure, thanks.