I was a kid who liked to keep to myself on the bus. Waiting at the bust stop I was always closer to the back, but not the last person on. No. That was reserved for the bullies and the people who kept walking farther and farther backward so no one would get behind them and they could be the last person on.
The bus took us all the way around the city, so we had a long bus drive. It would take us to the outer edges of the city and pick up some of the kids from my class. They all generally ignored me, which was ok. I just sat at the window watching the city go by and enjoying the scenery.
I was young, maybe about second or third grade, I honestly can't remember. The bus would always travel this long stretch of road that was practically empty except for one building at the corner of a four-way stop. Everyday we passed it, and everyday I tried my hardest to pronounce the word displayed in flashing lights at the top of a tall post. It had a weird combination of letters in it and I just wasn't quite sure how they all fit together. I didn't have a whole lot of time to try and pronounce the word, so I had to try and practice while we drove by it, stopped for a few seconds, and then went on our way again. By the time we got to school I had promptly forgot all about the word and didn't think of it again until the bus ride home.
For months I practiced sounding out the word, but it didn't come out right. I would wait for the moment the bus started to accelerate before trying with all my might to catch a glimpse of the sign and remember the combination of the letters. I knew there was a "Q" and "U" right in the middle, and those were the letters throwing me off. I didn't want to ask anyone because I didn't want anyone to make fun of me for not knowing the word. Plus, I wanted to figure it out on my own.
It was a cold, cloudy day when the bus took off from school one afternoon. It had been a bad day for me and I just wanted to go home and put it all behind me. I was sitting in the seat, looking out the window and not talking to anyone, when I felt the bus accelerate. I knew the sign was coming, but I didn't even want to try and figure it out. I was just going to ignore it. The bus started to slow down and I stole a glance at the sign, I couldn't help myself. At this point it was out of habit. Yet, for some reason, all the letters fit. For one brief moment the sun poked out from behind the clouds and lit up the sign, and I knew exactly what they said. After all these months, it finally clicked! Gone were all my thoughts of the bad day. Gone were the kids on bus chatting with their friends. Gone was the world around me. All that existed in that moment was that sign and I. Without hesitation, I excitedly stood up, threw my hands in the air, and yelled the word as loud as my little voice would go: "LIQUOR!!"