Short Story: White Snow, Yellow Bus

Posted on Jan 11, 2012
Like many Canadians who grew up in rural areas, my younger sister and I rode the bus to and from school each day. Every morning we would walk the 1/2 kilometer to the end of our gravel side road and wait for Bus 139 to arrive. Catching the bus had never been much of a problem for us until my grade 6 year, when a new bus driver took over our route.

Our new bus driver, Brenda, was friendly enough, but I will swear even now that each week she would choose a random day to start her route ten or even fifteen minutes early. The result was that my sister and I missed the bus quite a number of times that fall, and my mother was (understandably) not impressed with us at all. For her it meant a 45 minute roundtrip drive to drop us off at the school, and she would use the trip in to let us know exactly how unimpressed she was.

My sister and I received matching AM/FM alarm clock radios for Christmas that year. My parents explained that Santa must be concerned that if we missed the bus again, we'd be relegated to the naughty list next year. I think my sister bought the story, but I was just old enough to know that "Santa" in this case was my mom. I let her know that I would have preferred a new game, or at least something fun.

It didn't take long, however, for me to find a good use for my alarm clock radio. Every morning that January (after my mom woke me up by pounding on my door) I would roll over and look out my bedroom window. If there had been even a sprinkle of snow, I would tune in my new alarm clock radio to the local AM station that announced bus cancellations and pray that our bus number would be called out.

I remember one day in particular when I woke up to a foot of fresh snow. I was convinced that our bus had been cancelled, and indeed several buses were, but Brenda would not be deterred from her duties by a little snow.

So, while I hurried my way through a bowl of cereal, and my sister made use of what little amounts of hot water were left in the shower, my mother assumed her usual morning post. She stood in the kitchen window with a pair of binoculars, peering between a narrow gap in the trees on our front lawn. Across the field opposite our house, a small section of road was visible where the bus could seen as it approached our stop.

My mom set down her binoculars abruptly and announced "The bus is coming!". She promptly dumped the rest of my bowl of cereal down the sink, and ran down the hallway to bang on the bathroom door.

"Get going!" she yelled back to me. "Don't let that bus leave without your sister!"

I jammed on my boots, threw on my jacket, and trudged my way through the deep snow on our lawn and up the hill to the road. When I was half way across the lawn, my mom threw open the door and tossed a plastic bag in my direction. "Don't forget your lunch!" she yelled. "And don't let that bus leave without your sister!" she repeated.

I finally reached the road and broke into an all out sprint, thankful that the road had already been plowed, although, in retrospect, this was probably the exact reason the bus had not been cancelled. I made it to the end of the road just as the bus was pulling up.

"My sister," I panted, as I climbed the steps of the bus, "my sister is coming!"

"O.K." Brenda said, checking her watch. "But I can only wait for a minute! We've got to keep on schedule!"

I took a seat a few rows back and watched down the road anxiously for my sister.

"Are you sure she's coming?" Brenda said after a minute had passed.

She was definitely coming, and pleaded with her to wait - I knew that if my sister missed the bus, and I had made it, my mom would be furious.

To my relief, I finally spotted my sister's pink snow suit as she struggled through the snow bank out front of our house. She finally emerged onto the road, covered in snow, and began running toward the bus, but with her big winter boots on and a school bag full of books bouncing on her back she tired quickly and slowed to a jog.

Brenda put the bus back in gear and tapped on the horn. "Come on girl! Move that butt!" she said.

My sister heard the honking, but instead of resuming her run, she slowed to a walk! She was so relieved that the bus driver had seen her that she smiled with her rosy cheeks beaming and waved to the bus driver. She knew Brenda couldn't leave without her now!

I think Brenda intended to lecture my sister about being late when she finally arrived, but when she triumphantly climbed the stairs of the bus, all Brenda could do was laugh a little to herself and sip her coffee. Well, that and slam on the gas, sending my sister flying down the aisle.

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Mike at Chance Cove, NL - photo by Angelina Friskney,