Sunshine and Superman

By  | February 7, 2010 | 0 Comments | Filed under: Posts by M. Boilard

I have always disliked school. For me, not too many memories stem from class time; just a self-pitying ‘I hate this’ type of feeling. I don’t think it was really the learning involved that fuelled my angst, but just the rote mentality of it all, coupled with the fact that I was shy. It’s difficult for a shy child to shine outwardly as an individual in such a setting …we tend to disappear instead.

It was the long bus ride to and from school that seemed to generate all my memories of those days. Sixteen kilometres of stop and go …stop and go. Why anyone would subject 50 or so kids to that type of torture, I could never understand. We were guaranteed one or two bouts of motion sickness amongst us by the end of each run. Just thinking of that drone coming from under the floor of the bus as it pulled away, and the squealing of those brakes as we came to a stop, rocking everyone back and forth … back and forth in their seats in unison … makes me queasy just thinking about it.

By the 8th grade, things were a bit better for me, for my shyness was wearing thin and my inner sun would shine fleetingly through once in awhile. As my friends were never on the same bus, I would often choose a window seat where I could sit comfortably with my aloneness and observe the world as it went by. Although the skies of my mind were often grey on the trip to school, on the way home they were always full of sunshine.

On one September afternoon as the bus full of pandemonium pulled away from the front of the school, I was once again lost in deep sunny thoughts at my window. I was oblivious of anyone around me, until an unusual request cracked through my shell of contemplation.

“Hey…stop the bus.” It wasn’t an overly concerned voice; just a statement made by someone behind me.

Then once again, someone else called out,

“Stop the bus!” but his voice was lost to the competing noise before it reached the driver’s ears.

I looked to the back seat to see a boy waving with his hands in an attempt to get the attention of the driver, but there was just too many children making too much noise. I looked around at the other faces only to find everyone engrossed in very animated conversation, each louder than the next.

“Aw…come on…stop… will you?” another voice seemed to beg. Again I looked back to see the other boy next to the first, looking intently out of the back window of the bus and then quickly change to the window to the left of him. The boy seemed sad.

Unexpectedly the girl sitting next to me, brought my attention back to my own seat with a sharp jab of her elbow,

“Hey… isn’t that your kid brother?”

Her pointing finger passed by the front of my face to direct my gaze out of the window, and there he was; little brother, running as I have never seen him run before. He came swinging out from behind the bus, his little legs blurred in flight. There he was running along side of the bus directly in view of my window. He was looking ahead to the driver’s side view mirror, trying to get her attention by waving his colourful Superman lunch box. Unfortunately the driver’s eyes were on the road ahead as the bus started to gain ground after pulling away from the curb.

“Hey…stop the bus!’ The girl next to me called loudly to the bus driver, but again her call was drowned by the loud din of those 50 children.

The seconds seemed to drag on as my mind filled with panic; 16 km to a seven year old may as well have been 100. I watched my little, red faced brother run with all his might; his lunchbox held outstretched in front of him as though he was trying to absorb the power of flight from Superman himself. Then, in a matter of those same seconds, our eyes connected through the glass and his terror hit me as hard as a lightning bolt.

“STOP…. THE … BUS!” my voice silenced all 50 children.

I stood up with legs firmly planted on the floor, arms high, hands flat against the ceiling of the bus, preparing for that inevitable and sudden jerk when the bus driver would slam on the brakes.

“STOP…THE … BUS!” my shout echoed in the now quiet air.

Almost instantaneously, everyone involuntarily leaned sharply forward and then snapped back into their seats as the driver stopped her bus hard. All mouths were silent; all eyes were on me.

As little brother stepped high to get on the bus, I sat down slowly. Even though he dared not look to the back of the bus, it was obvious he had no more wind left in him. He quickly slipped out of sight somewhere behind the driver’s seat. The driver tilted her head back towards him without looking at him and mumbled “Sorry Kiddo”. She reserved her eyes for me as they glanced back through her mirror … they glowed with her smile. Without any further hesitation, she closed the door and continued on the long trek that would take her charges home. Pandemonium ruled, once again.

“WOW,” the girl next to me said with a laugh, “you scared the crap out of me!”

Up front, I saw the little head peer up over the back of his seat. His little hand still clutching his lunchbox, came up beside his face with an awkward 3 fingered wave…just enough to let me know that he was okay. We both seemed to absorb a little bit of those superpowers that afternoon. My mind’s sun shone bright all the way home because of it.

MB

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