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     Chapter Twelve
 
     “Her World”
 
She knew the
world was big
even though she
had never been
outside of California
she was going
to find a way
to put a bit of
English
on its spin,
in her eyes
this seemed
easy enough
to do
how hard
could it be
to change it’s
tilt
by a degree
or two
her dreams alone
had such a feeling
of unstoppable
potential
they made her
believe
anything was
possible,
no nagging questions
of what might
go wrong
or why it couldn’t
be done
teenage ignorance
in its purest form
no arrogance attached
just a unquenchable
thirst
to make an
impact
in ways that
haven’t even been
thought of yet,
looking through her
window
as the bus
slows to another
stop
her eyes try
and read an
old lady
waiting on the
bench
below her
wearing three layers
of clothes
on a hot
summer day,
where had her
life taken her
maybe
no farther then
these six city
blocks
married at nineteen
never to see
a sunrise
outside of San Jose
or had she
just been dropped
off here
at the end
of her ride
after years of
world travel
through continents
and counties
Zoe has never
even heard of
keeping secrets
she’s never going
to tell
and Zoe could
never imagine,
the bus makes
that all too
common lurch
into traffic
Zoe
already planning
her escape
from the city’s
grasp,
she’s not content
just to wait
for that opening
to appear
for her
she’ll live her
life
on the edge
of trouble
never crossing over
the center line
of normal
till the right
moment
lines up with
the right time
then she’ll
make her
move,
Zoe turns her
sights forward
looking at the
passengers
sitting in front
of her
as the bus sways
from side to
side
people leaning
to the left
then to the right
trying to stay
centered
in their seats
without having
to hang on to
that stainless
steel bar
on the seat
in front of them,
she wonders
how many of
these people
are looking for
a way out
or have they
already
given in
to a life of
normalcy
no ups or
downs
just a straight
down the middle
of the road
kind of life
meatloaf Mondays
and taco Tuesdays,
a chill runs
through her body
goose bumps
appear
down her arms
the mere thought
of a static life
to her
seems like throwing
your only chance
away
a total waste
of a free shot,
and she wasn’t
the type of girl
to throw away
anything
that looked like
it might be fun,
her eyes are
feeling heavy
the bus’s gentle
rocking
reminding her
she needs to get
some sleep,
time
is trying
to catch up
to Zoe
her ever turning
wheel of life
tends to get
ahead of it,
time hoping
she’ll
slow down
just enough
so it can reach
her
and balance out
the books
Zoe,
rarely giving
time
in any form
very much
respect
at all
spending it
faster
then she
earns it
and today is
no exception,
she watches the
store fronts
pass by her
their familiarity
letting her
know
she was getting
close to
home,
then she sees
a favorite
pizza place
that she and
her friends
hang out at
a lot
meaning the
next stop
is hers
the pizza is
only so-so
but lots of
the local
cute boys
hang out
there too
and a girl
has to eat,
she doesn’t
get up from
her seat
till the bus
comes to a
stop
then she makes
her way
down
the isle
she walked down
the bus steps
not taking a
chance on a
jump this time
lucky she didn’t
break a heel
on one of her
black booties
the last time,
the sun starts
to revive her
as she makes
her way down
the street
it’s rays mixed
with energy
and excitement
splash against
her
as her legs
are taking their
usual confident
stride
over the sidewalk
with such a
sense
of purpose
in her steps
people just
naturally
cleared a path
for her
and then found
themselves
taking a moment
to watch her
walk by
not even knowing
why
their eyes were
drawn to this
fifteen year old
short haired
girl
that looked
like
she knew
something
about this
world
that they
failed
to pick up on
during their
much longer
tenure,
she of course
doesn’t even
notice
the wake of
attention
she’s leaving
behind her
always moving
forward
never looking
back,
she pauses at
a street light
her swell of
attention
catching up to
her
as she waits
for the light
to change
she sees a
guy
who luck
has
completely
abandoned
leaning against
a lamp post
for some extra
much needed
support
while standing,
trying to light
a stub of a
cigarette
with his last
match
she runs her
fingers
through her hair
surprised to
still find the
cigarette
hidden
beneath it
tucked behind
her left ear
she hands it
to the guy
then takes her
left foot
and plants her
black bootie
firmly against
the lamp post
balanced on her
right leg
she slides her
Bic lighter
out of her
bootie
and hands it
to him
he lights the
somewhat bent
cigarette
and tries to
hand her back
the lighter
she shakes her
head “no”
as the light
changes
“Keep It”
she says
“I don’t smoke”
as her left
black bootie
goes from the
light pole
to the crosswalk
in one fluid
motion,
she continues to
split the crowded
sidewalk
with her smile
using the sun
as an umbrella
as the traffic
lights
drop away
and stop signs
take over
the streets get
cleaner
as green lawns
and homes
replace
store fronts
and buildings,
she drifts off
the sidewalk
into the street
slowly crossing
over
to the other side
walking
most of the
next block
down the street’s
center
before stepping
back up on
the opposite
sidewalk,
she sees her
dad’s
project car
up ahead
his other one
along with him
off to work
she raps her
knuckles
against the
tail end
of the car
letting it know
she’s home
then she
opens up the
passenger door
and crawls into
the front seat
all the car
windows
still down from
yesterday
she takes her
hoodie
and the jacket
from last night
and forms them
into a pillow
she then
stretches out
across the front
seat
and sticks her
makeshift pillow
behind her head
that’s resting on
the passenger door
arm rest
she then
pulls off her
black booties
and socks
before sticking
her now
bare feet
out the driver’s
side window
undoing the top
three buttons
of her jeans
her cell phone
resting on her
flat stomach
as the music
plays from it
finding herself
staring up into
that blue teal
sea
of fabric
that covers the
roof
she closes her
eyes
as the perfect
song
falls in line
with her mood
she reaches over
with her eyes
still closed
to the glove box
and pulls out
one of those
mushy
Halloween size
candy bars
tears off the
top
of the wrapper
and slides the
whole mess
right in to her
mouth
as her phone
begins to vibrate
with an incoming
text
against her Roxy
tee shirt
that’s still
tightly pulled
across her body,
she takes a
moment
soaking in the
relaxing feeling
of the music
and candy
while laying down
in the car
on a perfect
summer day
before holding up
her phone
and opening her
eyes
to read the
incoming text
with its
bullet point
message of
“Big Party Tonight,
Want to Go?”
she can’t even
hide
her smile
from herself
as she sends
back
her two word
reply
“I’m in”…
 
     Tom Allen…06-24-2018…