“What were you dreaming about?” I asked.
The little girl shrugged and turned to look out the window. The bus rumbled.
“I dunno,” she shrugged, “dead things. I was dreaming ‘bout dead stuff,” she said and continued to look out the window.
I didn’t let the age or gender gap stop me, or the side of her head. “Like what?” I asked.
“Mostly bugs,” she sighed.
I watched her trace some sort of shape on the fogged window.
“What kind?” I asked.
She sighed again and turned toward me. “I dunno. They all had big Styrofoam wings, and a pump thing.”
“Like a hose?”
“I don’t know what a hose is,” she said.
I sighed. I watched her reach in her backpack and pull out a pencil box. She took out mascara and a tiny compact mirror.
“How old are you? Like, ten?” I asked.
“I’m thirteen,” she replied.
I’d expected her to roll her eyes but she didn’t. We’d been on the greyhound for about two days now, and her mom was passed out in the back from Amarillo. Texas was a nightmare.
“Where are you going anyway?” she asked.
“I’m going to Canada.” I replied.
“I dunno.” I shifted in my seat and pulled out a sandwich from the last station. It smelled awful. At least I had something.
“You want half of this?”
I pulled apart half of it and handed it to her. She ate and looked out the window.
“Where are you and your mom going?” I asked.
“Back to grandmas,” she said.
“What does your mom do?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she replied. She swallowed the last bit of sandwich and we watched the flat brown land roll by.
She turned back to look at me. “What do you do? Where are you from?” she asked. Her light hazel eyes twinkled for the first time. A small smirk came on her lips.
I laughed. “Nothing.”
She started messing around in her bag again.
“I take that back, I do stuff,” I said and thought about what a 13 year-old would want to hear or understand. “Sometimes I’m a telemarketer, sometimes I’m a cook.”
The guy behind us snored loudly and someone opened a big bag of Doritos, you could smell it.
“Like calling people and stuff?” she asked.
Suddenly her mom gripped the back of my chair and hovered over my seat. She still smelled like Amarillo.
“Let me sit here,” she said.
I got my bag and moved toward the empty seats in the back. Half the people on the bus were asleep and the other half were plotting their whereabouts. I sat three seats over from a cowboy. It looked like he was writing poetry.
“What’re you writing?” I asked him after a while.
“A song for this girl I met in San Antonio,” he said.
“Was she nice?” I asked.
“She’s all I think about,” he said and adjusted his hat.
I thought about the crazy hay loft in Texas and the dark lonely streets. The bee feeling you get in your knees when you’ve been sitting behind a blue checkered seat for five hours and your brain’s about to explode. I thought about Morgan and making friends on the road. I wondered what would happen in Oregon, and the terrifying yawn of not knowing where to land, who to see, what to do.