The Bus Ride

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  1. #1

    The Bus Ride

    Not sure why I wrote this so long ago. But I had the idea, so committed it to electronic paper. I feel like I should test myself by adding a story in to each genre. It is mostly undedited from original. I did fix some errors I found while reading it before posting, but structure is mostly unchanged. Please enjoy. Any comments and critiques welcome.

    The Bus Ride

    Angela was always late for the bus. It didn’t matter how much extra time she allowed, she always arrived late. It was as though the universe wouldn’t function normally if shew as on time. It was a good thing the driver, Derek, seem to be in tune with this fact. Despite her being at least five minutes late every morning, the bus would be waiting for her. As she boarded the bus, Angela knew that Eric would make Derek wait anyway. She flashed her travel pass at Derek, who waved her on with a smile. She looked down the aisle to her usual seat. Sitting in his seat, was Eric. He was dressed in another suit, clearly meant to look expensive.

    “Morning sunshine,” Eric said smiling as Angela moved down the aisle to her seat.

    “Morning,” she smiled back, “it’s going to be a wonderful day today.”

    “Let’s hope so,” Eric said softly, adjusting himself nervously. Angela could feel his nervousness.

    “You okay” she asked, turning around so she her whole body faced him.

    “I’m great for the moment,” he said smiling, but Angela could see tension in the way he sat, “but this afternoon is another matter.”

    “What’d you mean?” Angela asked curiously. There was definitely something amiss.

    “I can tell you this afternoon,” Eric said, turning to stare out the bus window. His silence on the remainder of the bus ride was discomforting, almost hurtful. Angela was wondering if she’d said or done something to upset him. Although he didn’t say anything, Eric’s body language spoke volumes, even to Angela.

    “Angela,” Derek called out as the bus slowed down to a standstill, “your stop.” Angela looked out the window, seeing the same street corner she rode the bus to for the past six months. She hadn’t realised how much time had passed. She stood, walking slowly to the front of the bus. She stopped at the stairs, looking at Derek.

    “Do you know if there’s anything wrong with Eric today? “ she asked, almost pleading. “Has he said anything to you?”

    “Hasn’t said anything about anything to me, why?”

    “He just isn’t himself today,” Angela sighed. “Something’s wrong.” Derek looked over his shoulder at Eric.

    “If he says anything, I’ll let Peter know.”

    “I don’t think I can wait till the bus ride home,” Angela said, patting Derek on the shoulder in thanks. She got off the bus, turning to watch Eric through the window as the bus pulled away from the curb. He was looking at her, a nervous smile on his face as the bus continued down the street. He waved to her until he was out of sight.

    The next eight hours dragged on slowly for Angela. People and conversations blurred in to one long, excruciating day. How she managed to do any work was a miracle. When the clocks throughout the office displayed four-thirty, Angela felt like a swarm of butterflies had gathered in her stomach to host a dance party. Despite her queasiness, one way or the other, she was going to find out what was wrong with Eric this morning. With the feeling of butterflies dancing to ‘Gangnam Style’ inside her, Angela shutdown her computer, nodding and saying goodbye to people around her. As she approached the elevator, her feet grew heavier. Her mind raced through countless reasons for Eric’s behaviour that morning. A female voice asked her about drinks later. Angela replied, but had no idea what she'd just said, her brain running on automatic. Her thoughts were focused elsewhere. The elevator stopped, a tide of people dragged Angela out as the doors opened. She was now standing out on the street, wondering exactly when she had walked through the front doors. She looked down the street, to the bus stop. A car horn interrupted her thoughts.

    “Hey Ange’,” a familiar voice called out. Angela looked towards the car. It was Trevor, flashing his charming smile from inside his Porsche. “Need a lift?” As he asked, he lent over and opened the car door for her. Angela walked over to the curb slowly, smiling. As she approached the car, Trevor’s smile widened.

    “Sorry,” she said, closing the door softly, his smile changing to a frown, “I need to catch the bus today.”

    “Are you sure?” Trevor asked, almost pleadingly.

    “Yeah, I’ll see you tomorrow.” She waved half-heartedly as she headed toward the bus stop. Trevor waited for a moment before driving off, just in case she changed her mind. But to his disappointment, she didn’t. Angela liked Trevor. He was smart, funny and very good looking. He was also in management, so he was wealthy too. But he wasn’t Eric. Eric was all those things and more. Well, maybe not wealthy. But when Angela was around Eric, money didn’t seem important.

    Thinking of Eric set the butterflies in Angela’s stomach again, her insides felt like they were doing the Macarena. What was he going to say? Whatever it was, it was big. It had to be. She'd never seen Eric like that before. But how big was it? Had he found a girlfriend? Maybe he was already married? Angela doubted either could be true. She certainly hoped the second one wasn’t. Eric had taken her to lunch not long ago and, despite the high prices in the restaurant, they had an amazing time together. Angela believed Eric would’ve saved for ages to afford the restaurant they went to, considering how low unemployment benefits were. She offered to pay half, but he had refused, informing her politely that he’d asked her out so it was his job to pay. She smiled as she sat down on the bus stop seat, remembering all the things the pair had talked about. Angela had copped a serve from her supervisor for taking a two-hour lunch break. It was worth it.

    A door hissed open in front of Angela, snapping her out of her reminiscing. She looked up at Peter, sitting in the driver seat of the afternoon bus.

    "Hey gorgeous,” he said smiling.

    “Hi Peter,” Angela replied, returning the smile as she climbed the steps. “Did Derek talk to you?”

    “He did, but I can’t help you. Eric’s not on the bus.” Angela looked down the aisle. Eric was not in his seat. She checked the other seats as well, but there was no Eric on this bus. Angela was concerned. He was always in his seat, smiling as she climbed on to the bus. Where was he? Angela walked slowly up the aisle. She looked at Eric’s favourite spot as she sat down in hers. Something must be very wrong. In the eight months they had traveled on the bus together, he had never missed a single day, until today.

    “Where are you Eric?” she asked under her breath. Her thoughts were interrupted by a couple two seats in front of her, arguing about the death of some real estate billionaire. Angela recognised the name, as he owned the building she worked in, along with most of the surrounding buildings. The couple were arguing about the man’s family, his real estate empire and which of his children would inherit most of it. Angela blocked out the rest of their conversation, returning to worrying about Eric. Who cared about some rich kids squabbling over their father’s fortune, when the most amazing man she’d ever met wasn’t where he was meant to be.


    For the next few weeks, life dragged slowly for Angela. Each day, she would climb the stairs on the bus hoping to see Eric in his seat, those bright blue eyes, his dark messy hair and that big, beautiful smile. But she was disappointed. Each day grew worse when he wasn’t there. A sense of sadness started creeping in to her as each day without Eric passed. Before she realised it, two months had gone by. Despite her feelings for Eric, she felt she needed to go out, to clear the cobwebs that clouded her mind. As she left for work Friday afternoon, there was an offer for drinks. She'd accepted. It was time. A place was named, as well as other people that would be present, which included Trevor. Angela nodded then headed home. Of course, there was no Eric on the bus. Despite her attitude, she was still a little disappointed. She sat in her seat, quietly staring out at the buildings and people passing by the windows. She recognised most of the store signs, especially those close to her stop. The bus stopped suddenly, everybody sliding forward in their seats. A few swore at Peter as they shifted back, rubbing body parts that collided with the seats in front.

    “Ah, Angela,” Peter said, sounding confused.

    “This isn’t my stop,” Angela said, standing up and walking to the front of the bus. She saw the reason Peter had stopped the bus. A tall, bald man in a dark suit, standing in front of a large black limousine that was parked across the road. In his hands was a sign, the word “Angela” painted on it in a bright aqua green. Her favourite colour. Peter opened the door, letting Angela off the bus. She looked over at the man holding the sign.

    “Angela?” he asked. She nodded, lost for words. He motioned to the limousine, smiling. Angela walked slowly, unsure of who this man was, or why he wanted her. She walked around to the side, the man followed behind. He reached over and opened the door. She looked inside, but the brightness outside made it too dark to see in.

    “Angela,” a familiar voice said, making her heart leap. She climbed in, sitting down on the leather seat. On the other side sat Eric, dressed in a very expensive suit. His hair was combed, but somehow still looked messy. He was clearly uncomfortable with the situation. The door closed beside her. She heard a door open and close. The car started, then she could feel the car moving, as it pulled out on to the main road.

    “Where have you been?” Angela blurted out, before he could say anything. She started telling him how she felt that day on the bus and continued, without stopping for breath, in to the following days and weeks. She was midway through a sentence when Eric said her name. She stopped talking, her train of thought interrupted by his voice.

    “Angela,” he started again, “I’m sorry. I had big plans for that day. I had everything ready to go, ready to ask you something important.” Angela gasped. “But my dad died that day. You probably saw it on the news.”

    “Porter Rickson was your dad? The real estate billionaire was your dad?”

    “Yes.”

    “But……you rode the bus. For eight months, you rode the bus, with me.”

    “I know, I know. I was on the bus for a reason. My dad asked me to investigate the public transport system. He wanted to see if there was anything that could be improved, to invest in. That was also the first day we met.”

    “I remember that day,” she said smiling. The first day they met had been one of the best she could ever remember.

    “I’ll never forget it,” Eric said, taking a deep breath. “I met the most amazing woman on that bus.”

    “Why didn’t you ask me out? I would have said yes.”

    “Of course you would, I was the son of a billionaire. Most women do say yes. But I never know if it’s me or the money.”

    “But you should know better than that,” Angela said a little hurt. “I would never go for someone just because they had money!”

    “I know that. But back, then I didn’t. You’re such an amazing woman, I wanted to get to know you before you found out who I was. I even had my face taken off some of the commercials my dad made. I told him I wanted to investigate the public transport system as a normal person. So I dressed down.”

    “You lied to me,” Angela said.

    “I would never lie to you. As a matter of fact……” Eric leaned forward, kneeling down on one knee, pulling a small box out of his pocket.

    “Angela Matilda Stilks,” Eric said calmly, opening the box as he lifted it up, “will you marry me?” Angela was stunned. The man of her dreams before her, proposing marriage. But he had been lying to her, kind of. He had not told her who he was. He had kept that from her all this time. Surely he would have seen that money didn’t matter to her in a relationship.

    Trevor’s smile flashed before her eyes. Angela remembered the stories of how Trevor would target girls in the office. Even though only a few ever went out with him, there were stories. Most were about how his charm quickly wore off, once he got what he wanted. After that, his wallet closed up. And money only took you so far. She looked at the ring in the box. It wasn’t a huge ring like something a billionaire, or billionaire’s son, would buy. It was small and delicate, with beautiful crafting around the diamond. It was something Angela would’ve selected herself. She couldn’t argue that he didn’t know her. They had spent most of the eight months on the bus talking, mostly about her she realised. He had been getting to know her without her even knowing what he was doing.

    “Is this what you were going to ask me the day your dad…umm…” She could not complete the question.

    “Yes,” Eric replied grabbing her hand, squeezing it gently in reassurance.

    “Why?” she asked, “why that day?” Eric took a deep breath.

    “That morning, I talked to my dad on the phone. He was still in the hospital after some tests. Apparently they found some serious problems. When I spoke to him, he told me I'd been chasing the girl for long enough. Life was too short to….” Eric’s eyes teared up a little as he spoke of his father.

    “...too short to waste on waiting,” he continued. It was all Angela could do to not burst in to tears herself, listening to him talk about his father with so much affection. Could she marry him? Despite everything else between them, everything else that had happened, that was the real question.

    “Can I think about it?” she asked. Eric looked a little surprised, but nodded his head and smiled.

    “Of course you can. This is a big decision.” Angela realised the car had stopped. The door beside her opened. They were parked outside her apartment building. As she climbed out of the limousine, Eric grabbed her hand again.

    “Take this,” Eric said, handing her the box with the ring. “Even if you say no, keep it.” Angela stood up outside, the big bald man smiling at her as she walked over to the curb. Eric leaned in to view, that beautiful smile on his face.

    “Whatever you decide Angela, I love you.” Her lip started to quiver at those words. He gave her a half-hearted wave before closing the door. The bald man walked around, getting in behind the wheel. He loved her. He actually said he loved her. That was the first time he'd said it. As the limousine started up the road, she knew she loved him too. The limousine got further away. Suddenly she knew she'd made a huge mistake. She took off after the limousine, running up the street after it, screaming for it to stop. But it didn’t stop. They didn’t see her, or hear her, so far behind it. It got further and further away. She kept running. She was puffing, her pulse racing. The limousine waited a moment at an intersection then turned left. It took her a minute to get there, but when she finally reached the intersection, the limousine was gone. He was gone. Just like that. She’d just made the biggest mistake of her life. The perfect man had asked her to marry him and she wanted to think about it.

    “I love you,” she gasped, leaning heavily against the street sign, exhausted.

    “It’s about time,” a voice said behind her. She turned around. Eric was leaning against the side of the limousine, grinning. “I rode eight months on a bus with you, waiting for you to say that.”
    "You!" she said as she ran over to him. First she hugged and kissed him. Then she punched him in the arm. Then she kissed him again. Angela pulled away for a second, looking at him.

    “What happened to letting me decide?” she asked.

    “I did. When you chased after us, I knew you’d decided.”

    “But you didn’t stop. I thought you didn’t see me.”

    “Carver was going to stop,” Eric said, pointing to the bald driver, “but I made him keep going.”

    “Why?” Angela asked, punching him in the arm again.

    “I wanted to make sure you were sure!”

    “And?”

    “I saw you running like an athlete to catch up, in heels even. I’m convinced.”

    “Oh, the answer to your question is yes.”

    “Which question,” Eric grinned, “that you want to marry me, or that we honeymoon in Hawaii?” She punched him, then kissed him, again.

    “All of the above,” Angela grinned, "all of the above."
    Last edited by MadMickyG; May 3rd, 2017 at 12:52 PM.
    If we surround ourselves with 'yes' people, how can we grow.

  2. #2
    A nice story, it reminds me a little of Richard Curtis' comedies. I'd watch the internal logic, though, there's a few points where the characters didn't act entirely consistently.


    • At the end of the first day, Angela seems not to notice that Eric isn't on the bus until the driver tells her. Wouldn't she be looking for him from the moment she got on?
    • The driver stops the bus when he sees a sign with "Angela" on it, but this is quite a common name and it's a bit of a leap to assume it refers to this Angela.
    • Eric says that Angela would have said 'yes' if he asked her out, because of his wealth, but she didn't know about it at that point.


    I think these could be fixed with just a little tweaking, e.g. the sign could also have her surname on it.

    HC

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