Contributor: Clive Aaron Gill

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“Base to Lola,” called the San Diego High School Dispatcher on the radio.
“Go ahead.”
“Lola, please pick up Reuben on Balboa Avenue this morning. Rudy’s bus is down.”
“Ten-four. Will do.”
“You’ll be half an hour late. His grandmother called him and told him to wait.”
A look of satisfaction crept into Lola’s blue, penetrating eyes as she thought about the likeable Reuben. Blue jeans hugged her sturdy thighs and a white band drew back her black hair, as smooth as polished ebony, from her forehead.
She drove her bus past waves of wild mustard, blossoming vibrant yellow, before she stopped to pick up Reuben, a six-foot, muscular, special needs student.
“Good morning, Reuben.”
“Morning, Lola. Today’s my birthday,” said Reuben, as he stepped into the bus and gave her a high five. He sat three rows back.
“Happy birthday, Reuben,” she said and drove on. “You’ve grown a lot since I first took you to school.”
“I’m…I’m eighteen today.”
“Congratulations! How are you feeling?”
“Good,” he said, although his pale face gleamed with sweat.
Using the rear view mirror, Lola studied Reuben with narrowed eyes. “Are you sure?”
Reuben nodded as his face turned red. He blinked hard repeatedly and hunched his shoulders.
“Reuben, do you want me to stop?”
He leaned into the aisle and vomited white chunks with enormous heaves.
“Oh, my God!” she screamed, crinkling her nose.
When Lola arrived at the Transitional School, an aide met her.
Lola said, “Reuben threw up on the bus.”
“He did what?” asked Sharon.
“I didn’t have time to get the trash can to him. And the mess went into the wheelchair tie-down tracks,” she said, running her fingers through her hair.
Sharon shook her head. “Where are the twenty one cupcakes his grandmother made?”
“Reuben, where are Gran'ma's cupcakes?” inquired Lola.
He remained silent.
“Reuben, did you eat the cupcakes while you were waiting for me?”
He nodded slowly and held his hand to his forehead.

“We can’t accept him at school if he’s sick,” said Sharon.
Lola covered her face with her hands as she drew a long breath. “And I thought this was gonna be a good day.”

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Clive's short stories have appeared in Pens on Fire, Every Day Fiction, espresso stories, Short Humour, Postcard Shorts, The Screech Owl, Wilderness House Literary Review, Gravel Literary Journal, Shark Reef literary magazine, Larks Fiction Magazine and in 6 Tales magazine.
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