It was the first time out of state and on a bus by themselves. Josiah continued to stare out the window while replaying his last conversation in his mind. Malachi stirred in the seat next to him, mumbling as he called out for their mother. Turning slightly, Josiah patted his little brother's back to comfort him back to sleep. This had taken a toll on both of them, Malachi was taking it the hardest. Their parents continued to leave messages advising everything was okay. But if everything was okay, why did they have to leave their home? Why did they need to go stay with their grandmother? Something was happening that their parents thought they were too young to understand. It didn’t matter, soon as they got to Gamas' house, Josiah would ask. Gama, their grandmother, usually told them everything anyway, something about how cute they were usually melted Gama into telling the whole truth. Besides, they were teenagers now and could handle some adult things. Josiah could practically drive a car with parental supervision, in another couple of months he, would be fully licensed.
Josiah turned back to the window and stared out. They would be at the bus station soon where their grandfather would pick them up. Paw Paw, their grandfather, usually had no clue what was happening so asking him would be pointless. Josiah smiled at this thought. It was amazing how grandpa could stay oblivious to everything. Malachi said it was because he was old.
The bus continued down the highway passing by the welcome sign for Louisiana. Josiah pulled out his cell phone and turned it on. There was a message waiting already. Clicking the message he placed the phone to his ear and listened.
“Hey, my loves, mom just wanted to check in on you and make sure you made it to Paw Paw. Send me a text message when you make it, mom won’t be able to answer the phone for a while. Paw Paw should already be there. I love you, have a great time. We will all be back home together soon. Take care of each other and I will call you when I can.”
Josiah let out a sigh and shook Malachi awake.
“Wake up Malachi!," Josiah said. We are almost to the bus station.”
Malachi groaned and stretched, “I am so ready to get off this bus,” he said.
“I know,” Josiah replied. “Mom left us a message do you want to hear it?”
Malachi perked up at that, “Yes! I miss mom so much.” He took the phone from Josiah and played the message. It had been almost a week since they last saw their mother. She left urgently for a work trip, leaving them to stay with their GiGi. The next week a bus ticket for Louisiana showed up in the mail and they were packing to live with their Gama for the next year. He remembered calling his mother frantically but got no answer. Then a couple days later, a voicemail appeared with a message that she was safe. This was all for work and they would be safe with Gama. Josiah wasn’t a child anymore, he knew something was up. When their father left he told Josiah not to believe everything the news told them. They used to talk for hours about what was really happening in the world. Josiah had started searching himself for answers online and had stumbled across some pretty amazing information. His father was among those exposing the government for its tactics to eradicate the world of black/brown people. A subtle they thought but his father had picked up on the warnings.
The bus slowed down at the station. Rolling past the parking lot Josiah spotted Paw Paw’s car. “Do you have everything you together Malachi,” he asked. “Yeah I am grabbing everything now,” Malachi responded rummaging around. The bus pulled to a stop, the lights came on and people started to stand and stretch. Luckily most of the passengers were still a bit sleepy so Josiah and Malachi were able to slip out of their seats and walk to the front. As they stood at the door the bus driver smiled. “You two are the most well-behaved teenagers I have ever seen. I hope you get to your destination safely,” she said. Malachi scoffed and pushed past his brother and out the door. “Thank you, it was a peaceful ride, thank you for getting us here safely,” Josiah responded, then turned to follow his brother.
“That lady was rude to us when we first got on,” Malachi spat on the other side of the bus. “I know but it was because she didn’t know us,” Josiah responded. “No, it is because she is racist. She saw two black boys and assumed we would stir up trouble, that is why I cursed her out. “That wasn’t necessary Malachi and you know it,” Josiah barked back. His brother had a short temper, especially for prejudice of any kind. As soon as the bus driver commented about them not causing trouble, Malachi lost it. He had scared the poor lady out of her skin. But Josiah could tell she was nervous and that this may have possibly been her first bus drive. He wasn’t quite sure how he knew that but he was certain that was the reason.
“I know, I don’t know the entire story,” Malachi said with a sigh, then turned to walk away. “But she should really stop assuming things about people who look like us.”
Malachi was a right but what could they do about it now? Hopefully, her experience with them would change her perspective.
“Hey guys,” Paw Paw shouted from across the parking lot. He was always so loud.
“Hey Paw Paw,” they responded in unison. “I can’t wait to get to the house. What did you cook us?” Malachi asked, which was typical since he was always hungry. Paw Paw cooked the best…well, everything.
“I put a prime rib roast on for you guys,” he responded. “It should be done by the time we get home. Gama made corn and rice.”
At the sound of that, Malachi started to dance. “O…I love when you and Gama team up for dinner.”
Josiah smiled and headed towards the car. It would be a good night he wouldn't worry Gama with questions. Tomorrow he would ask what was really going on and why mom had to leave so suddenly.