Ethan takes the Bus: Flash Fiction
A note from me, A name I call myself
The following is just a short story for fun. While the people are fictional all the locations and the bus (including route) are real.
Ethan checked his hair and clothes in the mirror. He had on his Akron Rubber Ducks Jersey, light gray with a blue stripe and the logo across the chest, khaki cargo shorts, black and white Converse high-top all-stars, and his matching Ducks cap. At thirteen, Ethan on most days didn’t have much of a choice in what he wore, but today wasn’t one of those days. His mother told him he could go to the main library downtown by himself for the first time. No supervision, just some money, a bus and the first taste of freedom. He and his father had gone to Main Street many times before to see the Akron Rubber Ducks play at Canal Park. His mother took him more than once to the main library, but both times they were in control. Ethan had his phone, money, bus pass and a schedule for the route six bus going from Ellet to downtown.
It was one of those sunny days in June with the scent of wild roses in the air along with the slight hint of their neighbor’s compost. The front door was the same door he stepped out of every day for as long as he could remember, but somehow this felt different. The world felt like he was looking through a fisheye lens, the silence of the spring day felt as loud as the screaming fans at a Ducks game.
He thought about the line from the Hobbit, “it’s a dangerous business walking out one’s front door.”
Ethan felt like everyone was watching him. He saw Mister Gnat watering his plants. Mr. Gnat waved and Ethan waved back. He didn’t want to get into a long talk about baseball today or how when Mr. Gnat was in School blah, blah, blah. The man loved to hear himself talk and put down anyone younger than his eighty years. Ethan walked to the end of the walkway to the sidewalk running beside Albrecht Avenue on his way to Canton Road and the bus stop.
The best stop was next to the Tim Horton Coffee Shop, in front of Ritzman Elementary School. It was his school before he moved up to the seventh grade and Hyre Middle School. The school had just reopened after a complete remodel. To get around the state funding laws, the city named all the new schools CLC Community Learning Centers. His father laughed about the whole thing, but his mother was mad about the name change. She went to Ellet and his father was A Springfield Spartan, a rivalry as big as Michigan and Ohio State. Ethan had one more year in Hyre then he would go to Ellet High School the home of the Orangemen.
Ethan got down to Canton road and the stop passing the coffee shop and the smell of coffee and sugar. He wasn’t allowed to drink coffee, so he drank as much as he could when his parents weren’t looking. His older sister works at Tim Horton, and she would occasionally bring him a caffeine fix on the days she was to stay home and watch him. Unlike his best-friend Aden, he and his sister Persephone had a good relationship. Everyone that knows her calls her Pep, and she lives up to the name. Ethan could have taken the number five bus. It runs down Albrecht Ave and follows much of the Route six bus, but it isn’t as direct a route as the six. The next bus came to a stop, Ethan swiped his card and found a seat and just like that he was off on his own. All the while, he didn’t feel like he was alone at all.
The bus turned from Canton Road to East market Street then came to a stop. The door in the front opened and she walked in. Jessica Martin, Ethan would say her name was as much an adjective as a proper noun. In his mind, a Jessica described a state of being, a description of light and beauty. A sunny day is a Jessica Martin day. The idea of love seemed silly to him like something in the movies or on TV. She had a smile that made his heart race and the light scent of something flowery made his head swim. They texted every night and most of the day. He knew her from the third grade when her family moved to Ohio from West Virginia. She has a slight accent that just makes Ethan smile. She sat next to him and the bus took off on its route heading to downtown Akron.
Jessica and Ethan sat in silence for most of the trip. He thought about how funny it was that they had so little to say in person when they said so much through IM. The Bus passed the old Goodyear headquarters and rolled across the bridge into downtown. A few minutes later they passed Summa Akron City Hospital where Ethan and his three sisters were born. His mother Irene is an oncology nurse working sixty hours a week at the hospital. She was working today. Jessica asked if she was working and Ethan just nodded. Jessica’s mother worked at the YMCA connected to the hospital. Ethan tried not to look at Jessica, trying to keep his face from turning red. He was, of course, failing miserably. Jessica smiled seeing him blush. She put her had on his. She liked how this confident boy turned red-faced around her. Ethan looked at her hand and thought, “wow.”
The bus turned onto Main Street. The next stop was the Orangerie Mall and the Main Street Library. The main branch for the Akron-Summit County Library System. The Main Street library was three stories and felt ten times bigger than the Ellet branch. Jessica and Ethan came to the crosswalk. She pushed the button and they waited to cross. Before they did, she took his hand. Ethan lost all his fear of being alone downtown or the fear of the unknown outside his door every time he stepped out.
He thought about the rest of the line from the Hobbit, “You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
Ethan smiled and the two crossed the street and walked into the library. From inside the Orangerie Mall, Ethan’s mother watched him. She used an app to track his movements making sure he was safe without letting him know she was there. She put down the small binoculars she was using and thought, “great, now I have something else to worry about.”
© 2019 Michael Collins aka Lakemoron