The last school bell tolls; the day is over, but I am not yet free. I still have a bus to catch. I weave through the halls, through the throngs of people, all hurrying the same way, as fast as my feet and my backpack will allow. There is only one thing on my mind: to get to the bus before everyone else. I do not do it for pride; there is little honor in this race. Nor do I do it in the hopes of getting a seat to myself. I am not so naive to think that it is possible whether I get there early or not; I know I am lucky to have only another sit with me. I do it for one reason alone - the window seat.

The window is a wonderful thing. Through it, I can be free. I am no longer bothered by the fat kid wheezing behind me. I pay no mind to the blonde girl yelling obscenities in the front. I can forget the uncomfortable proximity of the boy beside me, ignore his unattended backpack resting against my numbing leg. My mind is outside. It is in the boundless world. It is in the fleeting scenes that fly by my window. A little old black man sitting on a tree stump. A group of happy children playing in the park. A quaint white farmhouse with a tire swing hanging from the tree. Two seconds, and they are gone, like the visions of a dream. My mind has already moved on. A brooding factory coughs black smoke into the sky, but no matter; it is no longer there. Instead there's a field, lying fallow and barren in the dark winter morning, or maybe blossoming with new green on a spring afternoon. That passes too. I am left with a scrapbook world, little pieces stitched together. But each piece is vibrant and new, brimming with life. The old man waves. The children laugh. Dark birds rise from the roof of the house. The visions do not last. But I will see the same again tomorrow.

I am not so lucky today, for my seat is on the outside - or rather, the inside - away from the window. This is a different world that I am stuck in: noisy, suffocating. This world is small; its boundaries are the metal roof, the sticky floor, the yelling children on every side. There is no room to breathe. The chatter envelops me, dozens of conversations, all different, all the same. Did you see what she was wearing? Did you hear who he was with? Did you see? Did you hear? I can hear them all, and there is no escape. A paper comes flying from the back of the bus and hits my head, but there is no accompanying apology. Instead everyone laughs, and I am not able to ignore it for I am stuck here. Thier laughing faces hover around me, letting me absorb every haunting detail. That boy in the yellow jersey has a nose stud and a silver earring in his right ear. That girl in the pink tank top wears green eye-shadow with fuchsia lip gloss. They soon get bored and return to thier previous conversations - the topics haven't changed. Suddenly, everyone's attention is drawn to something new as the blonde girl stands at the front and yells to a boy in the back. Their entire conversation is broadcasted to the world; she wants to know exactly what he said in the locker room. We are made to sit through their arguing; we cannot leave - we become a part of it. When he refuses to answer, she sits down, her face reddened with anger. A moment of silence pervades, then all at once, everyone starts talking about them, what she saw the blonde girl doing, what he heard about the boy in the back. A moment later, the girl stands up again; her face is no longer red. It is calm and passive as she curses the boy and his mother.

Finally the bus stops and it is my turn to get off. The paper is still on the floor.

It will not be there tomorrow.