Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Selfishness (02/14/05)
TITLE: What I Didn't Tell the Bus Driver
By Allison Lee
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Not long after, other students climbed aboard and challenged us for the back seats, specifically a girl named Monica. Heavy-set and tanned, Monica lived in the only low-income housing project in our small town.
She boasted that she had been assigned the back seat where I now sat. Eva and I hotly refuted that claim, telling her that the bus driver had made no such assignments—Eva and I didn’t have assigned seats, and we rode the school bus every day!
Monica continued pestering us, seemingly bent on staking out her perceived territory. To this day, I don’t know why she remained so stubborn about claiming that the seat belonged to her. Maybe she had sat there on many occasions and just assumed that we all knew to leave the choice back seat for her.
But I wanted that seat, and I didn’t plan to give it up that easily. Finally, in my frustration and desire to keep what I desperately wanted, I cried, “Shut up, Monica Freight Train!”
I had heard other kids call her this ugly nickname. Until then, I had never spoken those words about Monica. I regretted them as soon as they left my mouth, especially when her hand shot out and planted a stinging slap on my cheek.
Her action shocked us both. For a split second, we stared at each other, neither saying a word. Then Eva began to chant, “Go tell the bus driver! Go tell the bus driver!” I didn’t go tell the bus driver; I felt too ashamed at what I had said about Monica. Perhaps she felt too worried about getting in trouble to press the issue anymore about having “her” seat, and she walked away.
For a few more minutes, Eva tried in vain to convince me to tell our bus driver that Monica had slapped me. I wouldn’t do it. I sat silently for most of the bus ride, thinking about what I’d said that had caused her more hurt than her slap had caused me. And I thought about why I had said it. I wanted this back seat, a privilege and special treat, so much that I would defend my “right” to possess it even to the point of hurting a girl I had never wanted to hurt. My selfishness had poisoned my words and my heart toward Monica.
Sitting in the back of the bus never felt quite the same after that day.
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