Posted by Allison Smith
Robert, my first best friend ever, boards Bus 22 today holding a large book. I know he got it from Dusty, the oldest of his three brothers. The four of them all look the same. Their mom cuts their white, blonde hair so short that they almost look bald. They have clear blue eyes and dirty faces from running around in the woods. My mom always washes the dirt off of my face. The book he holds in his hand has an army man on the cover with the same hair cut Robert has.
"Cat, I wont be in school tomorrow." Robert announces. I think that will be alright because he has Mrs. Raven as a teacher and I have Mrs. Hilperts so we don't see each other during the day anyway. I then remember and start to worry about who I will have to sit with on Bus 22. Patty Williamson better not sit down next to me because she is the worst and for her birthday got a purple backpack even though I had a purple backpack first. I decide that Robert needs to come to school tomorrow because I cannot and will not be stuck sitting next to Patty Williamson.
Robert takes a deep breath in and then declares, "Cat, I'm joining the army." He drops the big book in my lap and I open it up. We have looked through the book before. I knew he is joining the army but I did not know so soon. We are only in kindergarten. We had a plan. I look at the black and white pictures of the nurses helping wounded soldiers laying in rows of cots.
"But, Robert, who will take care of you?" I ask. We had a plan for after we graduate. I will go to nursing school and he will train with his brothers for the army. Then we would meet in a distant enemy land and whenever he was wounded I would heal him.
"I'm sorry Cat I have to go," He says in his deepest voice. "Dusty is going tomorrow and it might be my only chance to go with him."
For the rest of our ride on Buss 22 we flip through the book and he points to the pictures of all the things he will learn to do in the army.
Later that day on the playground I hide in the tunnel slide.
The next day I board Bus 22 and put my purple backpack on the open space next to me so that Patty Williamson cannot sit there. Bus 22 stops at Roberts house and I start to yell up to Bus Driver Nick that we won't need to stop here anymore. Then, to my complete surprise, Robert walks onto Bus 22. I quickly shove my purple backpack on to the floor so he can sit down.
"Robert what happened to the army?" I eagerly ask him with wide eyes.
Robert sits still for a moment. Robert pulls back his shoulders and takes a deep breath to fill his chest. Robert dramatically exhales and explains, "They would not take me. I was too good."