Return to Autumn
by John Richards
Genre: Upper YA Contemporary Fiction/Coming of Age
Release Date: October 14th 2016
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The Beginning of Summer
Every year on the last day of school it was our ritual to exit the school bus by jumping out of the emergency exit in the back. Mark, Joey, and I had been doing it since we were in sixth grade. Irritating the bus driver went back further than the sixth grade though. In third grade when we had a substitute bus driver that didn’t know the route, we would yell, “That’s it! That’s my house!” This shouldn’t have mattered since the driver was only supposed to stop and let us out at designated stops. Nonetheless, she slammed on the brakes and jerked the bus to a halt and we hid behind the tall-backed green seats calling out “Why are you stopping?” or “NO! Not here you idiot.” The woman just sat there looking back at all us kids in her huge rearview mirror, stunned and trying to figure out if someone was actually going to get off. Someone would eventually tell her no one was getting off, and she would start driving again to the chorus of our profanity. The bus was so full she wouldn’t have a clue who was doing all the yelling, and in hindsight, I don’t think she cared who was yelling. She just wanted off the bus herself. Now, we were juniors in high school. Even though we all had our driver’s licenses we couldn’t drive to school until we were seniors due to limited parking spaces.
You could only jump out the back of the bus on the last day of school. If you did the jump midyear, the principal would be waiting on the bus after school the next day and the bus wouldn’t leave for home until he found out who had activated the fire exit. He would threaten to give everyone a detention if nobody tattled or confessed. I know because we tried to do it on a Friday once in eighth grade, and the next Monday there he was waiting for us inside the bus. Carolyn Autumn was the one who told on us. She didn’t even hesitate; she wanted to get home and ‘prepare’ for a history test she had the next week. Carolyn was constantly worrying and studying. She lived down the street from us and we rode the bus together since our first-grade year.
“I’m sorry Adam,” she said. “I had to. I thought I was going to fail.”
But she was one of the most successful students in school. She was always on the honor roll, as long as I could remember anyway. Her obsessive worrying was likely the reason for all her success in school.