Monday, July 23, 2012

Waiting for the School Bus

When I was seven years old, we moved from Banner Elk to Lenoir, NC. Despite being closer to the Piedmont region, there were plenty of hilly places and the mountains seemed to never be out of eye shot.

We moved into a trailer on the top of a hill. Our yard was very narrow and there was a steep incline at the edge. It is hard to impress upon the reader how steep this incline is.  I can recall several times having to descend down it to retrieve an errant kickball.  There was no way to scale it without grabbing onto the vegetation with both hands.  This unfortunately meant that when I found the ball, I was forced to throw it as hard as I could so it would crest the top. Many was the time it wouldn't make it to the top and would roll even further down the hill. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.

Because we were at the top of this hill, the road was visible from half a mile away. When I was in the fifth grade, I was trusted enough to watch for the school bus at the bottom of the hill. Since we had a neighboring kid who rode the bus too, this afforded me the time to grab my book bag and wait at the road just in time for the bus to arrive.

Over time, I trained myself to where I could listen for the bus to drive up with its diesel engine.  And one morning I heard the bus's engine and quickly grabbed my gear and headed outside.

I stood in my driveway waiting for the school bus to come. But it didn't. Nothing did. So I thought to myself, "Well, it is almost time for the bus.  By the time I get back inside, it will be coming. I really don't want to dig in my book bag for the keys."  I decided to wait for the bus.

It was a really quiet morning. Normally, our road had the passing car come through, someone trying to get to work no doubt. But even the bugs were quiet.  I didn't think anything of it, because Socks, our dog, was noisily gnawing at his groin. 

And then I heard a noise. It sounded like some critter scurrying through some underbrush.  Only it was happening at the edge of the yard.  So I looked over there and caught a glimpse of a white figure.  Or rather certain parts of it. A translucent white bald head was peeking over edge at me. I could see a set of pink eyes and the bridge of the nose.  In addition to the head, its hands were visible on along the edge. 

Our eyes met and we stared at one another for what seemed like a long time, but it probably wasn't longer than 10 seconds.  And then I blinked.  And it vanished.  I thought it was all in my head, and even tried squinting to see if I could trick my eyes into seeing it again. But this didn't work.

Then suddenly, I heard the noise again.  Only this time it was from across the road, where the forest is. The idea that I may see this spectre again was not what alarmed me. When it was at the edge of the yard it was a good distance away.  Now that this noise was coming from across the road, it was moving closer. I ran back to the house, fumbled in my book bag for the keys and hurriedly unlocked the door.  I almost missed the bus that morning because I wanted to be sure not to fall into the same trap again.

To this day, I do not know what that thing was. I call it a ghost because I don't know of anything else to call it. What I did discover one day is that there is an old man-made tunnel nearby in the forest.  It looked like it hadn't been used in years. And inside there were what appeared to be shelves cut into the earthen walls. As a child, I wouldn't go very far in the tunnel, but one day I intend on returning and seeing what there is to discover inside. I hope somehow it will give me some insight into what I saw that morning.


  1. I'd love to see an illustration of this bald red-eyed ghost. Is that tunnel still there?

  2. I like it
    You may have seen God
    Who knows?
    so luucky.. also scary