Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.
The eleven year old girl on the bus moves over to sit in front of her mother. This way she is now in the row across the aisle from me, so we can see each other. She gives me a tight-lipped, shy smile, and I return it. As we ride along, she slumps and points her toes in order to touch the floor. She unzips the front pocket of her bookbag and dips her fingers into a trove of pens and pencils. She feels at them, then leaves her fingers there, as though the writing utensils are holding her hand. She sighs and closes her eyes.
Later, she studies me back. She peers over. She wonders what I see out the window that makes me stare past her, over her head, then smile to myself and scrawl in my notebook, remarkably steady in our swaying bus. I note small plowed fields, hand-planted with beans, and seemingly no houses nearby, or the light before sunset making the young greenery glow. She doesn’t see it. The girl sits up straight to mimic my posture and smirk.
I can’t help but show how exciting and beautiful I find it to be. I’m pleased to be here and won’t wipe it off my face, even though this makes me a particular curiosity. Her mother speaks with me, quietly, asking where I’m from and saying it’s odd to have visitors here in March. The girl says something to her mother that I can’t understand, and they both smile at me like tourists themselves. “Enjoy your stay,” the mother says as they depart, the young girl nodding her goodbye. And they wave from the road as the bus pulls away.
–Herceg Novi, Montenegro (Photo: Kotor)