The Trip: A Short Story (2010)
“What are you doing?” said Mark.
“I’m looking for something,” said Jess, absent-mindedly.
“Do we need it?” Mark said, unconcerned.
“Yes, Mark!” Jess cried, “We can’t leave without it.”
“Alright, alright. I’ll help you look for it.” Mark rummaged through a few of Jess’s things and came across her diary.
As a sudden impulse, he grabbed it and dropped it in his bag.
“Um, Jess. What are we looking for anyway?” Mark said, now pretending to search.
Jess lets out a heavy sigh. “My music box, Mark. We’re not leaving on this trip without it.”
Mark sighed as well. “Alright, but if we don’t leave soon we won’t get there in time.”
Jess was getting more frustrated. “I’m aware of that, Mark. Here’s my rebuttal: We’re not leaving until I have my music box with me.”
Mark picked up some of her clothes and threw them in opposite directions. “Why do you even need it anyway? You’re not a little girl anymore, Jess.”
“I’ve never been away from my music box. I listen to it every night before I go to sleep.”
“So how come I’ve never seen this music box before, if it’s so special to you?”
“You’ve seen my music box before. You probably just never noticed it.”
Suddenly, the air gets still and only silence is heard despite the city sounds. Mark turns slowly and watches as the music box quickly appears on the dresser. Jess continues to ruffle through her clothes. Mark walks over to the box and opens it, the music starts to play. Instantly, Jess stands up straight.
“Mark, where did you find this?” Jess asked, frantically as she walked over to him.
“It was right here, Jess. The whole time.” He lied.
“No, Mark. That’s impossible. I would have seen it if it had been here.”
“Maybe you missed it, Jess. Now, come on or the bus is going to leave without us.”
“Come on Mark, we’re going to be late.”
“I can’t go if the light is red, Jess,” said Mark, already frustrated.
“I know, but if you would drive a little faster, we wouldn’t get stopped at all these lights.”
“Jess! I’m driving as fast as I can. Stop rushing me.”
“I’m sorry, Mark. I just don’t want to miss this trip.”
“You could spend just a LITTLE bit of time with me. It’s not like we’re gonna to see each other after this.”
“What are you talking about? We spend time together, and we’re going to be at the same place. How could we not see each other?”
Mark sighed. “You tell me this every time we go on a field trip, and every time you run off with Alex and I never see you.”
Jess had a weird expression on her face. “Well…” She paused awkwardly. “You could hang out with us.” Mark almost missed a red light. He pushed the brake instantaneously. They both gasped in shock and then settled.
“Why would I want to be around you and Alex? He’s always all over you. I don’t want to see that.”
“You’re not…jealous of him, are you?”
Mark took a deep breath. “No, that’s the last thing I would ever be.”
“Well, it sounds like you are.” Jess retorted, unconcerned.
They turned into the school parking lot and their conversation ended there.
“This bus leaves in 15 minutes! If you’re not on it, we’re leaving without you!” yelled Mrs. Bailey, into the megaphone.
“Jesus, Mrs. Bailey. We can hear you just fine,” said Alex, pushing down the megaphone.
“Be that as it may, Alex, I don’t want to hear it if you miss the bus,” said Mrs. Bailey, sternly.
Alex walked away towards a dense group of students. He watched as Mark and Jessica pulled into the parking lot. He walked around the car to open the door for Jessica.
“Thank you, Alex. You’re such a gentleman,” said Jessica, smiling at him. Mark rolled his eyes, slammed his door loudly, and walked over to the bus without waiting for Alex or Jessica.
Alex places his hands on Jessica’s waist. “What’s his problem? Something happen this morning?” Alex said, pretending to care.
Jessica put her face in her hands. “I’m not really sure. I did sort of rush him to get here, and I wouldn’t let him leave without my music box.” Jessica looked away from Alex but kept his hands on her waist.
“You’ve had that music box since you were a little girl, and you listen to it every night before you go to bed. How could put such little importance on something like that?”
Jessica moved away from Alex and started walking toward the bus. “Come on, Alex. He’s not that bad. Let’s just get on the bus.”
Mark was sitting in the back of the bus by himself. A frown formed on Jessica’s face. Mark’s words were ringing in her ears. She sat next to Mark, without one word to Alex, leaving him there to stand awkwardly in the middle of the aisle. “You’re not going to sit next to me, Jess?” Alex said, sadly.
“I sit next to you every class trip, Alex. Can’t sit next to Mark for just ONE trip?” Jess said, persuasively.
“I guess so…”
Jessica put her hand on Alex’s shoulder. “Change is good, Alex. Change is good.”
Alex rolled his eyes. Mark smiled at this. Things were finally going his way. Alex sat quietly throughout the whole hour ride up there while Mark and Jessica never stopped talking to each other.
Ten minutes before the arrived, Jessica turns to Alex. “What’s wrong, Alex? You were quiet this whole time.”
Alex closed his eyes and took a silent deep breath. “I just figured since you were sitting next to Mark for once, that you would want to catch up or whatever. I didn’t want to get in the way of that. Don’t worry, I respect your wishes and I know what’s important to you.”
Jess looked around awkwardly. “Uh, thanks, Alex. I think.”
Mark began talking to Jessica again, and Alex turned back around.
“Jess, can I ask you something?” Mark said, quietly. Alex strained his ears to listen to what they were talking about.
“Sure, Mark. What is it?” Jessica said, in a normal voice.
Mark put his finger over his mouth signaling her to keep her voice down.
“Sorry.” She whispered. “What is it?”
“You sat with me today. What made you change your mind?”
Jessica smiled. “Mark, you’re my best friend. I noticed you were sad and I needed to fix it. I hate seeing you sad all the time. If I can make you happy, I’m going to.”
“Thanks, Jessica,” Mark said, smiling. “You’ve made my day.”
“We’ll see about that…” Alex mumbled under his breath.
If you enjoyed this story, please check out my eBook “Sad Songs and Gray Dresses.”