Alicia was at the bus terminal. She sat on a bench since there was no bus in sight. She buried her head into her hands. Her phone rang, and she raised her head and dipped her hands into her bag to get her phone. She brought out the phone and saw the caller was her boyfriend. She ignored the call, silenced her phone, and threw it inside her bag before zipping it close.

She returned to bury her head in her palms while sobbing quietly.  A little boy of about ten years old walked towards the bench looking over his shoulders as if scared of getting caught. He was carrying a school bag and wore glasses. He wore a big overall coat that looked funny on his frail figure. He was a schoolboy and since it was barely noon, he ought to be in school. He sat sheepishly next to Alicia looking scared as he waited for a bus. Soon he noticed she was sobbing and after putting some thought to it by humming, he decided to start a conversation.

Jimmy: Hi stranger, I’m Jimmy, are you unwell? Should I call for help? (Alicia did not respond). You know no matter how hard you cry nothing will change, right? I am a living testimony to that assertion. If tears could change my fate, I would cry a river.

(Alicia looked up to identify who was talking. Jimmy smiled at her, but she simply sat upright, dried her eyes, and looked in the opposite direction).

Jimmy: Your eyes are swollen, you must have cried hard. What happened? Did your boyfriend break up with you? (Looking at her closely as if trying to make up his mind) Nooooooo, I don’t think it is related to a man. You look like you are returning from work. Were you fired? 

Alicia: (Looking at him irritatingly) Were you not taught not to talk to strangers? Where are your manners? And why are you not in school at this hour? Are your parents aware of your sneaky behavior? (Jimmy was silent) Ohh! The loudmouth finally went numb.

Jimmy: (Sliding away from her) Sorry if I bothered you, I was just trying to help. (Looking sadly at the ground) Besides, when one can’t talk to one’s family, you tend to find solace in strangers. (He forced a smile and faced Ella) I should be in school right now. Mrs. Caroline, the biology teacher, would probably be adjusting her glasses for the umpteenth time, and still wonder why the kids make jokes about her (He chuckles). I do like her. She is odd just like me.

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Alicia: Wearing glasses doesn’t make you odd. You simply have impaired vision.

Jimmy: (Laughing) Tell that to the kids at my school and see if they will listen. There is an unwritten rule in school, that glasses make you a nerd, and nerds are not cool. Do you know why I am here? Well, let me educate you on my problems dear accuser!

Alicia: (Stunned) Accuser?

Jimmy: Yes! You judged me as sneaky, whereas I am just trying to stay alive. I was supposed to get beaten up after school, just for the fun of it. Luckily, I caught the bullies sneaking out during classes through a hidden pathway. I hid and snuck out after they left. Found me close to this road!

A bus arrived and horned. The door flung open and both Alicia and Jimmy boarded it. It was quite empty yet Jimmy sat next to Alicia and the driver drove off.

Alicia: (Looking concerned) You should report to your parents. Don’t underestimate bullies. They could cost you your life.

Jimmy: (Smiling to mask the tears in his eyes) Parents, a lovely family, these are things I know nothing about. I lost my mom during my birth. I think that is why my dad hates me. To him, I am a murderer that went free after killing his beloved. (Tearing) Then he made an awful choice. I think he did it to punish me, or maybe us both. Or maybe he did it for the money.

Alicia: (Filled with sympathy) Did what?

Jimmy: Marry the devil’s favorite cousin. Thereby making my life a tale of experiencing hell before dying. My consolation lies in the fact that he is also getting burnt. (He drew close to Alicia, so closed their faces almost touched. He stared deeply into her eyes and said in a firm but chilled voice) His wife has an older son, he is a real monster. 

Alicia: (Moving away) That’s a strong word. No human is a monster. We are all God’s creation despite our flaws. God hates ugly, but he creates them still.

Jimmy: Real monsters are not beasts with claws and scary looks, they are humans devoid of conscience. So yes, he is a monster.

Alicia: He must be quite horrible? Sorry, you are going through so much. (Chuckling) I can’t believe I am sympathizing with you, forgetting my life is a bag of problems. 

Jimmy: Why?

Alicia: People always take advantage of my good heart. I lend my boyfriend money from my company’s account. He promised to pay back before anyone notices. Instead, he eloped with the money and kept calling to give me excuses. I had to sell my car and other belongings to pay them back and avoid going to jail. Today, I lost my job. I’m sad that yet again I was used. It is beginning to sound like a broken record.

Jimmy: The only broken record is you still being good despite being taken for granted on several occasions. Are you sure you are not related to Jesus?

Alicia: (Smiling brightly) Thank you. We will both be fine. Goodbye kid.

She beckoned the driver to stop as she will be alighting from the bus. She offered to pay but Jimmy insisted on paying.

Jimmy: I know you are older but the only thing I benefit from associating with a witch as a stepmother is her money. Please, let me pay. 

The bus came to a halt, Alicia went to the door, turned, and waved at Jimmy.

Alicia: Take care stranger!

Alicia alighted from the bus and decided she will no longer be used by anyone. She was going to call her runaway boyfriend and break up with him. She opened her bag but could not find her phone, and purse. Her purse contained the little money she had left. How come? She wondered, desperately running her hands through her bag. Abruptly, she recalled how close the little kid had come in contact with her when sharing his story. Now she understands why he offered to pay. She would have noticed her purse was missing if she had opened her bag to pay the driver!

Alicia: (Screaming) That brat stole from me! (But the bus was already far gone).

Inside the bus, Jimmy was admiring his new phone. He hastily opened the purse and found some cash. He searched thoroughly for any ATM card but found none.

Jimmy: (Feeling slightly disappointed) Damn! Her card is not here. Well, it is all good. Besides, isn’t she in need of being able to stop being good? After today, she will be a lot wiser thanks to me.” (Still speaking to himself) Imagine her saying, were you not taught not to talk to strangers. (Laughing) Well, she didn’t take her advice. I am such a good storyteller, big bro will be proud of me today. 


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