Christine Takes a Trip
by Mark Huffman
Christine sat in back of the tiny bus station. Her pet kitten napped on her lap. A janitor swept away dirt from the past day’s travelers. A skinny man worked the ticket counter. No one worked the restaurant. It was closed.
“Desiree, do you believe we’ve been gone nearly a whole day? Boy, I had no idea Virginia was so far away from Maine! I have never been farther south than New Haven. Have you? I’m guessing no, my lil ball of fur.
The kitten suddenly sat up. She craned her neck to catch the sight of a bus turning out into the street. Christine stroked her kitten’s striped tail.
“Did you hear the bus leaving? We should be aboard you know, headed south where Daddy is. He’s living somewhere on the airbase in Mobile. Mommy and I are following him in a month or so. Were following him. Now only I am following him. And you, my dear Desiree!”
Christine laid her head against the stanchion while her kitten situated itself on a table nearby. ”I feel very worn down. I see you are as well. We are both very weary from being on buses all day. I will find us a safe hideaway where we shall doze for a while.”
Christine got up, took her kitten outside and tried to locate a quiet place to rest. She spotted a tiny alcove, entered it and squatted in the corner.
“You know you are my only friend in the whole world. My feline friend. My only friend. For you my friend I will sing a song I made on the bus, so you will fall asleep:
On a Greyhound
hear the sound of
wheels on the ground
Daddy’s been found
Love is all around
“Oh why did the Army move Daddy? We were fine in Bangor. We were happy. I miss my Daddy so. But we don’t care a bit about Mommy any more, do we, kittee? We do not! Not since Mister Tim came to our house. I hate Mister Tim. And now I hate Mommy too! I wonder if she misses us. I do NOT miss her. Let’s forget about Mommy. Bon nuit, Desiree.”
Kittie settled in the crook of Christine’s neck and they both went quickly to sleep. Christine soon dreamt she was flying above her hometown. She could see her house and yard where Daddy hung a tire swing from a branch of the old oak tree. Mommy was there hanging laundry, sheets mostly. Over a grove of trees she spied her school. Some of her friends were running a race around the track. Janie, her best friend, tripped and fell and held her knee in pain. Then Christine started to fly very fast, like a missile. She passed over fields and trees and mountains and towns, cities, lakes, deserts, and canyons. She then slowed down over what appeared to be some kind of airport. There were big planes and little ones too. She thought she saw her father walking toward one of the big planes, and she wanted to go lower to greet him. But she couldn’t; the more she wanted to descend the higher she flew. Daddy was getting smaller and farther away. “Help,” she cried, “someone please help me get to my father! Daddy, I’m up here, in the sky. Do you see me? Someone please help me!” No one answered. She found herself helplessly drifting up on a column of air that took her higher and higher. Nothing she tried made a difference. Christine cried out in her dream, a long, mournful wail.
A car backfired. She awoke with a start. Dawn had not yet broken, but Christine rose, rolled up her mat, grabbed her kitten, and walked out to the street. The smell of a nearby bakery wafted her way; she could almost taste the freshly baked bread. The grumbling in her torso reminded her she had not eaten since yesterday.
“Which way, Desiree? Where do we go from here? I am hungry, and we have no money. How will we ever find Daddy? Who will give us a ride? We are here in Virginia, and he is all alone in Alabama. I love you Daddy. I will be there soon.”
Dawn had not yet broken, and neither had Christine’s heart.