“Hey,” Beth said, scooting over on the ledge beneath the mailboxes.
Jack yawned, kept yawning, so waved.
“You look terrible.”
Jack shrugged, wiping at his eyes.
“Stop that,” Beth said. “You’ll scratch something with those gloves on.” She reached over, and pushed Jack’s arms down. ”Now they’re all red.”
“They’ve been red all morning. That’s what happens when you don’t get much sleep.”
Beth let go of Jack’s arm. “It’s not your neck again, is it?”
Jack shook his head, yawning again.
Beth sat back, chewing at the thumb of her glove. “No, your mom wouldn’t let you near the front door if it was your neck.” She sat forward, touching her forehead to Jack’s.
He frowned. “You’re warm.”
Beth leaned away, crossing her arms around her midsection. “New moon,” she muttered.
“Is it bad?” Jack asked.
“They gave me some new pills to take.”
“Well, are they helping?”
It was Beth’s turn to shrug. “As much as the other ones did, I guess.”
“You have to take them for them to work.”
Beth stuck her tongue out.
“Wait a minute,” she said. “Where’s Ellie?”
Jack pointed back towards his house. “She’s part of the reason I didn’t get much sleep last night.”
“Is she okay?”
“Tummy-ache and a fever. Mom thinks she found a stash of leftover Halloween candy.”
Beth made a face. “Halloween was…”
“Yeah,” Jack said. He yawned again, and the bus wheezed and rattled around the corner down the road.
The door clattered open, and Mr. Grady was smiling.
Beth and Jack glanced at each other.
“Come on, then. Haven’t got all day,” the bus driver said. His frown disappeared once Jack started up the steps.
“Um, good morning, Mr. Grady,” Jack said.
“Oh, it’s looking to be a wonderful morning,” the old man said. He pulled the lever, and the doors snapped shut on Beth’s heels. “Hurry and take your seats, now.”
Beth prodded Jack’s backpack. “Hurry up.”
Jack turned down the bus’s central aisle, and his stomach lurched. The bus driver hadn’t even started back along the road, but it felt to Jack as though the whole bus suddenly jerked out from under him for a few seconds.
Mr. Grady cackled, and the bus ground back into gear.
A bright red glove waved to Jack from his regular seat, attached to a fuzzy brown arm. Bright coppery hair spilled over a furry brown shoulder, but the rest of the hair was covered in a round brown hat.
Patty’s glasses caught the early morning sunrise, but the golden glare paled against her smile.
“Good morning Jack! I saved your seat for you!”