When I was eight, I switched from a Mission CISD school to a Sharyland ISD school. I took the #9 bus to my grandma’s house after school until my mom could pick me up after work. The #9 bus was an okay bus, not too many bullies, a lot of my family members on it.
I don’t remember a lot from the #9 bus. I remember the scary bus driver with the crooked hook-like nose and I remember when I fell off the bus and my cousin Alex came to my rescue.
It was a hot south Texas afternoon and my stop had finally come. The bus screeched and I braced myself for the forward lurch to avoid slamming my 10 year-old head on the seat in front of me. I got up, walked to the front of the bus, and waited my turn to step down. I’d done this a million times before, but on this particular day I tripped on the last step and fell, face-first, on the asphalt.
I started crying. I’m sure my body, sprawled right below the bus steps, was preventing other people from easily getting off the bus. But they did anyway. They stepped around me –crying in the asphalt. The stepped over me–crying in the asphalt. And when they got off the bus they just started walking home. They didn’t even look back, didn’t even think to help this poor little girl crying face down, in the asphalt.
Finally, I felt someone lift me off the dirt and say, “She’s lying on the street and you can’t help her?! What the fuck, man?” It was my older cousin Alex. Alex carried me in his arms to my grandma’s house, where I had my afternoon snack of tortillas and butter.
Alex never said much. He is a quiet guy and I didn’t hang out with him growing up. I “hung out” with his little sister Amanda, who is my age. But on that day, I felt close to him. It shouldn’t have taken a family member to help a little girl who was crying in the dirt, but it did.
I remember recovering from the crying, you know that gaspy-hiccupy kind of breath when you are trying to regain control? I sat at my grandma’s table, kicking my feet under my chair, warm tortilla in hand, tear trails in the dirt on face, smiling a gaspy-hiccupy kind of smile.