The Other Way Around

The Other Way Around by Sashi Kaufman Read Free Book Online

Book: The Other Way Around by Sashi Kaufman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sashi Kaufman
big deal. I’ll be back in a few days, and Kris and Barry will be gone. Mom will be pissed, sure, but she’ll get over it, or at least forget about it when the first post-holiday crisis erupts at school. I’ll just have to fly under her radar for a little while, which is what I do most of the time anyways.
    ***
    The Glens Falls bus station is really just a holding room with uncomfortable plastic chairs, bad fluorescent lighting, and a few snack machines. Mom and I spent some time here waiting for Mima’s bus the last time she came out. There’s not even a real public bathroom. If you want to use the bathroom, you have to ask for a key and then they buzz you back into this other room that’s like a break room for the employees.
    It’s pretty quiet, even for a holiday. There are just a few people in the seats waiting for the bus: an old lady with an enormous pink scarf wrapped and rewrapped around her head, and a fidgety guy wearing a mechanic’s uniform and tapping on his leg with a rolled-up newspaper.
    In the corner there’s a group of kids who look about my age. They’re kind of clumped up, sitting on their sleeping bags and backpacks even though there are plenty of chairs free.
    The man behind the glass at the bus station window has mahogany skin flecked with lighter brown birthmarks. He has a double chin and a couple rolls where the base of his skull meets his neck. He’s eating a tuna fish sandwich; I can smell it through the glass, and he has a tiny bit of mayo smeared on his upper lip. His eyes are glued to a tiny color TV and what looks to me like a Mexican soap opera.
    â€œCan I help you?” he says, still watching his show.
    â€œYeah,” I say nervously, “I need a ticket to Bloomington,” I pause, “Indiana.”
    â€œCan’t do it,” he says. My heart sinks a little bit. “Furthest I can get you tonight is Cleveland. Bus leaves in an hour. You can catch the first bus to Bloomington in the morning.”
    â€œThat’s fine,” I say, relieved that there is a bus at all. “I’ll take a ticket, round-trip, I guess.”
    For the first time the man looks up at me. He takes a bite of his tuna sandwich and chews it carefully as though considering both. “How old are you?” he asks.
    â€œSixteen,” I answer, too quickly to lie.
    â€œYour parents know where you are?”
    â€œOf course they do, silly!” A girl has suddenly appeared beside me and links her arm through mine. She’s much shorter than I am and has short, spiky black hair and an upturned nose with a little bump on the bridge. She reaches up and ruffles my hair.
    â€œPlease don’t do that,” I say.
    She ignores me and looks up at me with dark brown eyes. “You don’t think we’d let him get on the bus all alone, do you?” She smiles winningly at the man behind the counter, who looks as confused as I do. “Mom’s in the car.” She holds her hand up to her head mimicking a phone and tosses her head back and forth in fake conversation. “On the phone again. She wants you to come out and say good-bye once you get your ticket.”
    I nod bewildered. “Okay?”
    â€œOkay,” she says and pinches my cheek the way the old ladies at Mima’s place always like to do. I pull away, annoyed. She smiles, winks at the man behind the counter, and saunters away.
    This bizarre display is enough to convince the man behind the counter to print out the ticket. I push sixty-four dollars underneath the glass partition and get back a bus ticket and thirty cents in change. This, along with a few crumpled dollar bills, will have to last me until Mima’s.
    I have an hour to kill until the bus leaves, so I pick a chair in the corner near one of the snack machines and settle in to wait. I pull my copy of
Into the Wild
out of my backpack and open up to the page where I left off. But I’m not reading.

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