On her first day of school in the city, The Belle strapped her sandals on, picked out a bow to match her dress, and set off on foot with her backpack secured to her shoulders. Having known only suburban-style travel to school (not Suburban, but suburban), The Belle saw excitement in every part of her journey.
At the bus stop, The Belle asked her mother about the bus route, the route number, the other people waiting for the bus, and how one might be lucky enough to one day get to drive the bus. She told people hurrying by, I’m going on the bus! Clutching their coffee mugs and their aloofness, few paused to acknowledge her, but the kinder ones smiled.
The bus came, and The Belle found a seat near the front window. Her backpack pushed her body forward on the plastic chair and her legs stuck straight out into the aisle. As the bus sped into a tunnel, The Belle yelled, whee! She yelled whee! some more as she got on the escalator coming out of the station.
Once again above ground, The Belle took three steps along the sidewalk, then asked her mother, Are we there yet?
They weren’t there yet.
But they were at an intersection crowded with workers and construction equipment and police officers and college students heading off to shop for classes. When it was her turn to cross the street, The Belle stopped in the crosswalk to answer a police officer’s question. Is today your first day at college? he asked her. NO! she yelled, so he could hear her above the din. I RODE THE BUS! The police officer expressed more enthusiasm about this than most of the commuters had. The Belle said, POLICE ARE GOOD.
She walked on. And on. She walked very, very slowly on.
When she finally arrived at school, The Belle asked her mother to play at the painting table, at the clay center, in the kitchen area. Then The Belle forgot about her mother and got involved with some blocks and some children, who also heard her story about having ridden the bus.
Everyday, The Belle rides the bus to school with her mother or father. She now knows the bus route, the bus number and acceptable bus behavior. And more than a couple of others who ride the bus know when they see her, that she will exclaim — as she did on her first day — I’m going on the bus!