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A bus story (my Clannad afterstory)

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I recently finished Clannad and so many memories of my own past were jogged. One thing in particular that I remembered was about a girl I had a baby crush on when I was 6.
I grew up in Madison which is a liberal college town. It is also the capitol of Wisconsin. When I was little, segregation and racism were still very prevalent in America where I lived. Although I am white I met with secondary racism a lot because I grew up in a biracial family in a diverse neighborhood. I think the year was 1984.
One of my first childhood friends was a backyard neighbor named Vu who came with his family from Vietnam after the war. We enjoyed talking to eachother and we were both Buddhists in common. We played kung fu and watched kung fu movies together. I still remember how to do a wind spell he taught me.
Vu had 3 sisters and 2 of them were in school with me and they were called May and June. At the time of my tale June was 5, May was 7 and Vu and I were 6.
It was near the end of the school year and the weather was getting very nice in late Spring. I was running late for school so I ran to the bus stop, a couple blocks away. When I got there I realized I had left my bus money at home. If I walked to school I would be late. I was afraid I would miss the bus if I went back for the money. So I waited there and I prayed that I would get a nice bus driver that would let me pay tomorrow, chanting "nam-myoho-renge-kyo" as my mom had taught me.
While I was chanting, I heard Vu call my name from behind. He and his two sisters were coming up the hill to the bus stop. I was excited to see them. May noticed my eyes were puffy and asked if I was crying. I said yes and I told them about my bus fare and asked them if I could pay them back tomorrow. May said she only had just enough for the three of them but she had an idea. "Just pretend your our brother," she said. I argued and said it wouldn't work but she convinced me it would be fine.
Soon, the bus came and they gathered around me so I was in the middle. There were also now five other people at the bus stop with us. So when it was my turn I just walked past the fare box hoping to get lost in the confusion. We went and sat in the back of the bus. "One of you didn't pay," said the bus driver. We just acted like we didn't know anything. This bus driver got up and walked back to us. "Say young man, you didn't pay."
I didn't say anything. Instead, May spoke up and said, "He's our brother. He's only four so he doesn't pay."
The bus driver seemed angry. He pointed at Vu and declared, "Yes, he's your brother," and then pointed at me, "Not him, right? You still need to pay."
May needed to prove her case. I was unprepared for what happened next. I am an only child and had no idea what a sister meant. "No, he's my brother, too." She hugged me gently and dearly with the conviction and feeling of a professional actress. I suddenly was thrust into a world of cuddliness like ten teddy bears. In an instant I was putty.
"You're lying to me. I know you're lying to me. Do you live in the same house?" he asked.
"Yes he lives in my house," said May.
"Now, I know you're just lying to me. I was in Nam for 5 years and saw a million [slur] but I never saw a blonde one."
He looked at me in the eyes and said, "I want you to tell me. Look at me." I sat up and looked at him. "Tell me their names." Well, having grown up next door I knew all their names and I recited them by rote. "You're American, you don't even talk the same. Don't lie to me. Are these your siblings?"
The man's veteran gaze melted me. "No," I confessed. "I left my bus money at home. I can pay you tomorrow."
"I should make you get out and walk. You lied to me. But I don't want you to miss school. You'd better pay me tomorrow," he said. Then he went back to drive the bus. While he drove, he lectured about it, and said the slur once or twice. Some adult said, "Don't talk to those children like that." Then he stopped and it was quiet til we got to school.
After I got home from school I realized I had feelings for May. She was sweet and smart and she had protected me. I decided the next time I saw them on the bus I would confess. I went to the bus the next day and it was a different driver but I payed the extra fare that I owed. Vu, May and June weren't on the bus. Over a month passed and I didn't see them. That seems like forever and a day when you're six. I was dying to ask June to be my girlfriend.
Then one day I went to their house and Vu told me he couldn't let me in because his parents weren't home. All that summer it was the same when I went to Vu's house. Then the next school year came and I saw June, May and Vu when I got on the bus. I was happy, I was finally going to ask her.
I said hi and asked how they were. Then I asked May if she wanted to be my girlfriend. "Maybe," she said. "I'll think about it and tell you tomorrow." I changed the subject and we all talked about other things.
A day or two later I saw them on the bus again. I greeted Vu and talked to them about kid stuff and then I asked May if she wanted to be my girlfriend. "No," she said. I asked her why and she said, "My father won't let me. You don't even know my name."
"Sure I do, it's May," I replied.
"No, that's not my name. That's my name at school," she explained, "I have a real name at home with my family. A vietnamese name. I bet you can't even say it."
"Sure I can, I'm real smart," I said. "Can I hear it?" She looked at her sister then looked at me and said it. It was four sounds I had never heard in my life before. But I tried to say it anyway and I knew it sounded nothing like what she said. She had a baffled look that she was both impressed and annoyed. She said, "That's not it. And besides you're a chicken. We got in trouble."
I apologized and then Vu grabbed my shoulder. "She said no. The school called our parents and we got in trouble. We all got spanked and grounded, so leave my sister alone." I was sad but I understood.
Why couldn't I just say one little lie? I could have walked to school and been late. Maybe I could have gone out with May. Well, "May" because I don't know her name.
So that's my childhood love story that I remembered in a dream after a marathon session of Clannad. My "other world". My own side-story, if you will.
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