I just wanted to see Brad’s face in the bus window.

If I ran all the way from school and didn’t stop to see things, I could get to our oak tree in time for the school bus to come around the corner. Sometimes his face would be in the window. But I’d only see one side of it. He would be looking straight ahead.

Other days I’d forget to keep running and I’d sit on the sidewalk and take the shoelaces out of my shoes and pretend they were snakes. Once the shoelace snakes scared me so much that I had to run away from them.

And then I worried that I had no shoelaces. What would I tell my mother when she asked about my missing shoelaces? So I decided to get new ones. I knocked on the neighbor’s door and asked her if she had shoelaces for me. But she said no. So I had to tell my mother about the snakes.

But I didn’t tell her about wanting to see Brad’s face in the bus window. I forgot.

It was only across the playground and two blocks to my house but sometimes I went a different way. I liked the side of the block with the hill because there was a house with rhubarb.

Sometimes the man at the rhubarb house would come outside to talk to me. He was tall and bald and had no fingernails. He said he lost his fingernails in the war. He would take out his knife from his pockets and cut stalks of rhubarb for me to take home to my mother. When he did this, it made me late to the oak tree so I didn’t get to see the bus going by or Brad looking straight ahead.

Even though it was too late, I would still sit under the tree on the soft grass where sometimes I would sit with my brother. I think once we sat there while he polished his shoes. I didn’t tell my brother about Brad, either.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “First Crush.”