I go to one of the top girl’s school in the country located in the central part of Singapore. However, my parents and I stay pretty far away and as such, we have no choice but to rely on a school bus.

I’m ok with waking up early, I mean I’ve always enjoyed school.

The journey itself is made enjoyable by the very friendly bus driver Uncle Toh and his wife Auntie Toh. They are very friendly and jovial, always cracking jokes with me.

I get on their bus every morning at 5.30am without fail. Since I’m the 1st one up the bus, I always choose to sit right beside Auntie Toh. The daily commute is always filled with laughter and sometimes, Auntie Toh would offer me breakfast too.

And after school, by the time they drop me off, it’s already close to 3pm in the afternoon.

It’s a long commute but I got use to it.

Just when I thought I can continue to enjoy the Toh’s company, they decided to retire.

Their kids are all grown up and having worked for so long, it’s time for them to take things easy.

I’m sad of course having lose the company of such nice people but at 67, they should be enjoying their twilight years doing what they like.

I cried the moment I got up the bus on the last afternoon ride back with Uncle and Auntie Toh. There’s nothing to be shameful about. Sure, I may be 16 but I still find it hard to hold back my tears.

They are such nice people and several of my classmates cried too as the journey took longer than usual.

Uncle Toh took his time and when he dropped us off at our place, he got out and shook everyone of our hands.

Auntie Toh and us shared a long hug and she too was wiping her tears with an old napkin. One that I have seen her tuck in her pocket countless times over the past few years.

We exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch.

There’s only 3 more months to go before I graduate from school and I was hoping I get to enjoy their company till then.

Anyway, the Tohs worked for a transport company and I knew the next morning a bus would come for me at the same time, at the same spot. Just a different driver.

I made sure I wake up on time the next morning. It’s a new driver and unlike Uncle Toh who always waited when I’m late for a few minutes without complains since I’m the 1st pick up, I cannot be sure the next driver will be just as nice.

After washing up, I undressed and put on my bra. My breast feels a little tender and sensitive. My menses must be coming soon.

I checked to make sure I have extra pads with me in my bag before grabbing a hasty breakfast with only my blouse and bra on. I was still wearing my sleep shorts.

While I ate, my helper braided my hair and I told her about the Toh’s retiring.

Looking at the time, I stuff the rest of the bread into my mouth and washed my hands. I slipped on my pinafore and clasped the belt around my waist, emphasizing the figure of a growing girl.

My pinafore is getting a bit short but with a couple of months left, there’s no point in buying new ones.

I removed my shorts and put on my underwear while asking my helper Marie to get me my socks.

She brought me a new pair which I quickly slipped on.

“ Ok I’m going down now, bye Marie. “ I said.

“ Ok Juliette, remember to text your mum when you arrive.” She called out after me.

I just got to the pick up point when I saw the familiar bus pull up.

The door opened and I was about to greet the uncle when I noticed the smile on his face. It’s a smile that made me uncomfortable.

I mumbled a quick ‘hi’ and this time round, instead of taking the seat closest to the driver, I went right to the back.

I don’t know why but my heart is beating really fast.

Looking at the rear mirror, I could see the driver looking at me several times.

I shifted my seat to the corner, praying that the headrest of the seat in front of me will hide me from his uncomfortable gaze.

It was then I realised there isn’t another auntie around.

I thought they usually work in pairs.

The bus trudged towards the next pickup and it was only when I saw other girls come up the bus that I breathe easier.

Upon arrival at school, since I took the very last seat, I was also the very last one to get off.

The driver got out of his seat and walked out, coming to the exit door.

He held out his hand and helped the girls off the last step of the bus which is a bit raised.

When it came to my turn, he gave me that uncomfortable smile again.

I avoided his hand. I don’t want him to touch me.

I don’t need his hand to get off the bus.

He greeted my rejection with a smile as i leaned the opposite way to avoid taking his hand, my pinafore was caught on the hinge of the bus door. Upon stepping off, my hem remained raised and I felt the tease of cold air underneath my pinafore.

Everything happened so fast. Barely a few seconds passed but there’s no hiding the fact I just exposed my entire bottom to the new driver.

He grinned at me and I saw his eyes checking out my nubile body.

I pressed my pinafore down and quickly walked away.

Turning to look at him, he kept smiling at me.

He just kept smiling at me with that creepy look on his face.

For the first time in my life, I dread getting up the bus after school.

After dismissal, I waited for my friends before going up the bus together. I kept my distance and stayed with my friends but being the last one to drop off, it’s inevitable that I have to take the last leg of the journey with the bus driver.

I kept to the seat at the back but with mid noon sun coming in at full strength, the driver called out to me from the front.

“Juliette, help me draw the curtains. Too bright. I cannot see properly.” He said

My heart started pumping faster. Why did he wait until now ?

He knows my name. Why does he know my name ?

Oh he has the list of students he’s picking up, of course he knows my name.

The bus is moving along the expressway and I don’t know if I should believe him. If it’s true, he can’t see clearly, we might crash or something.

I don’t know.

In the end, I bit my lips and got up. I went to each row and drew the curtain. There are two layers, I’m not stupid.

I did not draw the blackout curtains, only the thinner day curtains so I can still look outside.

I drew everyone of them until a set in the middle. That particular set is stuck.

I could see the problem and naturally, I tried to unhook the tangle and draw it. I was so engrossed with it and looking up that I did not realise the bus had stopped by the side of a road.

Looking towards the driver, I realised he is no longer at the seat. I turned around in horror to see him behind me holding his phone in a suspicious manner.

“Let me help you Juliette, you have a nice name.” He said.

I backed away immediately and the driver untangled the curtain and shut it.

He smiled at me again before going back to the driver seat.

My heart is almost going to fall out of my chest by then and I prayed that we would quickly reach my place.

We have already exited the expressway and it’s just a 10 minutes ride away.

One more left turn and I’m home.

I felt the bus swerve the other direction and my heart dropped. The bus turned right.

My lips felt dry and I stood up, holding onto the seats to steady myself.

“ Hey, it’s the wrong way. Hey ! “ I shouted at the driver

He did not acknowledge me but I could see him grinning at me through the rear mirror.

I grabbed my bag and walked to the exit, demanding that he let me down immediately.

It was then I saw the photo he took of me from behind when I was adjusting the curtains. It’s quite dark with the light coming from the front but there’s no mistaking the person in the picture.

It was me.

“let me out right now or I’m calling the police! “ I threatened while trying not to let my fear show. “hey!”

I felt the bus swerve again and upon regaining my balance, realised we’re now inside a heavy vehicle park. The driver backed the bus in between 2 large cement truck with so little space left that it’s impossible to even get out if the doors are opened.

“Relax Juliette, relax. I just want to talk. “ The bus driver said.

I swallowed a gulp of saliva as he gestured for me to go over to him.

“Come, come sit down with Uncle. Uncle just wants to talk.” He smiled in a creepy manner.

Well, I may be a young and innocent student, but from the looks of it, I know there’s no way in hell this Uncle is interested in just talking.

9500 words

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