“You are going to be late for your first day at work if you don’t leave right now,” Kimberly’s mom called from the kitchen.

“I know, I know, but I don’t know what’s happening. I’ve never slept through my alarm before,” Kimberly replied, rushing into the kitchen.

She picked up a medium size cream cup with the word “coffee” written on it. She filled her mouth with the content, then swallowed.

“Hey,” she said a few seconds, “the cup said coffee, but that was tea. False advertising.”

Her mom laughed, “Girl,” she said.

Kimberly took another gulp of the tea before replacing it on the marbled counter.

She rushed over to her mom, who was about two inches shorter than her and gently kissed her soft cheeks. Her mom was still wearing her blue and white sleeping dress. 

“Thanks, Mom. I’ll call you at lunchtime.”

“Okay, and be careful out there; the coronavirus is not the only thing we have to watch out for.”

Kimberly hurriedly pushed her feet into her black and white running shoes and fastened their velcros. She lifted her black and white winter coat from its hook and quickly put it on. It covered her red sweater and the top of her blue jeans. 

She grabbed the black and white leather backpack at the door and slung it on her right shoulder. She smiled at herself in the overhead mirror.

“I’ll be careful, Mom,” she replied, then opened the white-painted door and left the house.

The cool air instantly hit her nostrils, and she struggled for a few seconds to breathe. 

It’s colder and windier than I thought, she thought.

She pulled her zipper closer to her neck, adjusted her backpack, slightly lowered her head and began speed walking. 

To her surprise, both vehicles and people seem to have deserted the street.

Kimberly looked around her; in the distance, she could see the red and white public bus coming. She suspected that it was the express bus she was hoping to catch. Her head quickly darted to the bus stop, and she could see a few people standing there.

I can catch it if I run, she thought. There is enough time.  

She started to run, and the bus was pulling up behind her when she reached the stop.

“Thank you, Lord,” she whispered.

By the time she stepped unto the bus, only one seat was empty, and it was at the back. She did not like to sit at the back of the bus. Nevertheless, Kimberly went to the back and sat next to a girl. A brown baseball hat hid most of the girl’s black hair and some of her face.

The girl was staring at her pink Uggs, and Kimberly judged her to be about ten years old. The man sitting on the girl’s other side handed her a juice box. He, too, was wearing a baseball hat.

“Thank you,” the girl whispered, and then took off the straw attached to the box, punctured the hole in the accommodating spot, inserted the straw and began drinking the juice.

About five minutes into the ride, she was still drinking the juice, and when the bus turned deep, the girl’s shoulder slammed into Kimberly, and her juice box flew out of her hand. It landed on the floor.

“Sorry,” the girl said.

The man got up from his seat to pick up the box. As he did so, the girl forced something into Kimberly’s hand.  

Kimberly darted an amused smile at the girl, but she was staring at her Uggs again.

The man sat down but did not return the juice box to the girl, nor did she reach out for it.

Kimberly glanced at the man, and maybe it was the clinching of his jaws or the fact that his hat practically covered his face; she did know, but suddenly she felt unsettled.

She slipped the item from her hand and into her pocket. Then opening her backpack on her lap, she moved the object from her pocket and into her bag. It was a folded piece of white paper. She unfolded it, and it read.

“My daddy is taking me away, but he’s not supposed to. Help.”

Kimberly’s hands shook inside the bag, but after asking God for help, she dropped the paper in her backpack. Then, she slowly zipped it up and stood before swinging it over her shoulder. Then she made her way to the front of the bus.   

After having a brief conversation with the bus driver, she returned to her seat at the back of the bus.

About five minutes later, the bus pulled into Stanly’s Station. Kimberly looked through the window for police cars, but she saw none.

Then the bus driver spoke, “I need everyone to remain in their seats for a few more minutes. There is just going to be a random ticket check. Thanks, it’s not going to be long.”

There was a little grumbling, but the commuters mainly remained quiet as the bus driver opened the front door and two police officers entered the bus.

They started to check commuters’ bus passes, and after what felt like forever to Kimberly, they finally made their way to the back of the bus. Those whose tickets were checked were allowed to leave the bus.  

The man next to the girl sighed long and deeply. Then directing his question at the police officers, he asked, “who told you? How did you know we were on this bus?”

Then, without waiting for an answer, he charged at the officers.

The End

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