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Affording the Bus

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It's a goddamn miracle that her job interview has ended, the sun is brightly shining, birds outside chipping. Lauren would even bet money that her skin got clearer.

Okay, maybe she won't actually bet money. Because let's be honest, there's a reason why she needed to go for a job interview in the first place.

Just like people who are into shopping until they drop, or others who may crave cocaine. For her, it is her unhealthy obsession of devouring ice cream, which regrettably is becoming an unquenchable thirst.

But at least, if her interview went smoothly enough, she'll be able to afford the expense.

When Lauren walks outside, she instantly feels the cool afternoon Miami breeze brush against her skin, as she walks towards her friend’s car. Hopefully they could grab some ice cream or crème glacée like the French like to call it because-

She hears the familiar Beyoncé ringtone Normani put for her own contact. As she walks towards her best friends car at the end of the parking lot. She picks up.

“Hey Normani, I'm walking towards your car, I'll be there in like two seconds?”

Lauren is about ten steps away from the passenger side door when she hears a loud yell from her best friend.

“No, Wait! Lauren, that car isn't me picking you up, I'm not here.” Normani quickly stammers out.

“What do you mean ‘I'm not here’,” Lauren questions with frustration in her voice present, “You dropped me off here!”

Lauren fails her arms aimlessly around the parking lot. Anyone who is witnessing her could see she is visibility fuming through her ears. She quickly checks how much money she has in her wallet as Normani keeps explaining.

“I’m so sorry Lauren, I forgot i had to pick up my siblings at home, a-and now my mom is yelling at me since--”  Normani struggles to get out the sentence.

Lauren’s face softens immediately. All anger towards her best friend vanishing.

“Normani don't worry,” she quickly cuts off her sentence, “I'll be okay finding another way home  I'll be there tomorrow or when you want me to be there with some ice cream and a shoulder to lean on.” Lauren assuring the sad girl.

She quickly checks her pocket to check how much money she has. Quickly counting the change it comes out to about five dollars. Her debit card for emergencies only were not to be used, plus there were no ATMs where she was at the moment

“I have to go Lauren, I'm sorry again.” Normani sadly states.

“Don't worry about it Normani, bye.”

She quickly hangs up the phone and scans her brain for options to get home. A friend? No, I'm on the other side of town. A taxi? Way, too expensive. Uber? Lyft? Forgot to install it.  As she walks away from the faux friend car she spots her answer right in front of her.

A bus. She could only afford the bus.

Quickly chasing towards the bus, her legs with great speed carry her to the bus stop. She steps onto the bus out of breath but given the 20 inches or something (Doesn't really matter how far, she ain't that fit). The obscenely loud heavy breathing is justified.

Before when her friends did not even know how to drive, Lauren would use the transit like it was nobody's business because of its affordability and accessibility. Plus she didn't have a job to save up for a car to drive so why bother getting a license?  

So when she could not mooch a ride to school, the early mornings of chasing after a bus were her daily exercise.

She didn't expect she would be a panting mess of breaths because it hasn't been that long since she had to chase a bus down but damn she needs to work out more.

Luckily, heavens smile upon her today as just like the sea split into two, so did the double doors of the entrance to her salvation, revealing the nice blonde driver who actually stopped for her.

As she sits on the nearest seat of the bus driver to catch her breath, she looks around the almost empty transit, seeing a few people. There were some old people judging her for her lack of air. However after a few stops, almost simultaneously they all get off.

(Or at least it feels that way for Lauren)

The elderly stop at the retirement home  the stop said. The couple gets off when the mall arrives. And with four buses of the same number waiting here at the station, hardly anyone comes on.  

When the bus driver decides to leave this station she checks her very limited data to see how long it will take to get home.

One. Whole. Hour.

If her mother wasn't out of town or if she finally figured out how to drive, she wouldn't be in this mess. What is she going to do to pass the time?

She quickly looks around the bus again to make sure there are no suspicious people.

Instead she finds a girl around her age. Who was softly whimpering. Red eyed. Tear-stained shirt. Used tissues in hand.

Who would hurt someone so… ?

Lauren also realises that it's only her and the girl now. Would it be weird to sit beside her and ask what's wrong?

With all the courage she can muster she stands in front of the girl with some more clean napkins she found in her bag.

“Hi, I'm Lauren. Would you like some company?” the girl looks at her startled by the interaction.

If I was in that situation, I would be startled too

“I know this is really awkward, but I heard that strangers make the best listeners and thought you might need one now.”

The girl looks more confused now. Like it was strange for Lauren to talk to her at all. But the brunette stranger keeps looking at her. Saying nothing back.

“You probably don't want me around so um, I should-- do you -- Here are some tissues.” the girl takes them with a soft “thanks” muttered as she blows her nose.

As Lauren slowly turns away she hears the girl say something back to her. It was almost inaudible. If you weren't listening for it, it wouldn't of been heard by anything.

“Stay, please.” Camila almost whispers.

Trying not to startle the girl again. She cautiously sits down next to the girl on the two-seater seat beside her. As she sits down beside her she looks at the girl closer up. She's looks so precious. How is anyone able to look like that? Especially when they are crying.

“So,” the girl looks back at her again, “Would you like to speak or, do you want me to distract you with a funny story?”

With a small giggle the girl wipes away her tears and responds “Option number two, please.”

Lauren, without hesitation, decides to quickly dive into into a story about how she came out to her best friend. Although she doesn't know what the girl's views in life is, the reaction on her face of her using a flashlight that when turned on spells out “i’m gay” is priceless.

She hears at loud, full-bodied boisterous laugh coming from the brunette for the first time. A mouth opened uncensored laugh. Lauren is determined to keep that smile on her face. It's also probably a good indicator that the girl is okay with her being gay.

Camila, the name Lauren got when she asked the girl during the story then goes into her own coming out story.

“ I like all people as a whole which is why I’m-”  Camila abruptly stopped talking to Lauren as both hear the quiet music beginning lyrics to Bye Bye Bye from N’SYNC playing from Camila’s phone.



(Not that Lauren cared for that information or anything.)

The time quickly passes by as they talk about funny stories in their life and anything that isn't why Camila was sad. She doesn't think it matters now when nobody has given her the amount of butterflies Lauren has.

While Lauren on the other hand is happy to be in her presence. She is content to even get to know Camila because she wants to learn all about what she deems an angel. She eagerly learns all about the girl’s life while the hurt she once saw disintegrates into a beaming smile.

Before Camila can jump into a story about how her parents need to know each public vehicle and driver she uses because of an incident a while back. Lauren spots her holy grail of places through the window.

“Camila do you want to discuss things over ice cream?”  Lauren blurts out

“At the Coldstones over there?” Lauren quickly shakes her head yes, “I love that place!”  Camila excitedly answers.

They quickly run off the bus with a quick thank you to the smiling bus driver as they get ice cream that Lauren willingly pays with the ATM money she knows that's in there. Her father would understand her emergency of making an angel smile right?

 

(He didn't ).



---------



After four and a half years of being together. They get married. And Lauren can still only afford the bus.

Turns out Camila was crying because she heard that her boyfriend was cheating on her with this Normani chick and Lauren, shoots a quick text message to let her friend know.

She gets a response back from Normani along the lines of: Fuck him and fuck this, he ain't worth shit. Lo, let me meet this other girl .

Twenty minutes later, Normani has already arrived and with Camila, make a plan against him to get revenge together while simultaneously realizing that they have already moved on. But for the next hour, the three of them talk and get along nicely.

 

Lauren refills her ice cream more than enough times to feed a village while pretending she doesn't see Camila steal her banana ice cream. Which she totally did not get for Camila four times to let her eat either ways.


(Normani hardly even noticed, not when she was talking more to the cute blonde girl behind the counter.)


And after the ice cream, they all exchange numbers and make plans to hang out soon, including the girl behind the counter.

Normani makes a pledge then and there to marry the cashier that made her heart swoon.

Camila on the other hand when ‘going to the washroom' rushes to the flower shop with a single rose to ask Lauren out on a date which she says yes too.

(Lauren makes the same promise Normani makes)



Three years later they’re where their first date took place. Cuddled up in blankets and pillows in the back of Camila’s pick-up truck. Gazing at the stars, the younger Latina says to Lauren how she has bright galaxies in her eyes and is more blinding than the sun itself. Lauren could not  comprehend what Camila even did when she removes a lid off a pint of ice cream revealing a diamond ring on top of the ice cream itself.

And how could Lauren say nothing but yes when both ice cream and Camila are involved. Which she thanks Camila profusely for with her tongue devouring until the ice cream, and Camila, are sucked dry as she praises the existence of her.

Lauren however caught Camila with a proposal of her own because although they were already engaged, Lauren had bought a ring for her a few months back and had been planning for this moment for awhile.

It starts off with her leaving bananas everywhere because just like her, there is an unhealthy obsession with the certain  fruit she can't get rid of.

Until one day they both come back from a Halloween party, Lauren dressed up as a banana and Camila dressed up as a ice cream container because Dinah got them as presents telling them both you are what you eat, come home to bananas placed everywhere.

Bananas hung from the ceiling, inside their toaster, placed stove between the coils of the stove top all covered in the kitchen vascinity.

Lauren then takes a deep breath, heart pounding in anticipation to look at Camila and do what she has wanted to do ever since she met Camila (other than actually marry her).

“Camila,” the younger Latina looks at her, “I knew from day one I would be with you, angel, and I know that you know that I'm not that that good at kitchen terms but, I do know that I am utterly, totally whipped for you,” Camila giggles at the her pun,

“And although you already did this, I've had this ring I wanted to give to you for awhile now,” Lauren takes this time to get down on one knee properly and take a banana that was on top of their counter, placing the ring on its stem,

“So with this, I promise you to be your guardian angel, protector, best friend and lover but hopefully you already knew that. However above all else, I am helplessly bananas for you. Will you reaffirm that you’ll marry me?”

Camila ends up screaming yes at the top of her lungs as she grabs the ring from from the banana and placing the ring and  then Lauren in her finger(s).

Camila at the end of the night makes Lauren scream yes repeatedly as she uses a yellow strap on to make sure Lauren knows exactly how much she loves her. Leaving Lauren in heaven and with the taste of bananas down her throat for the rest of the week.


But enough of memory lane, this is their wedding planning and wedding I'm trying to talk about.



They split the work to which where Lauren can choose things to do for the outdoor space while Camila plans the details for the inside. Both of them make sure that the flowers stay the same and they don't go over their budget.

They’re both stressed as hell but they know it will be worth it when they are able to say I do to each other and sign a contract binding them for life.

They both decide that the officiate would be the bus driver. Which is easy since Camila had some over-worried parents.

When the day arrives everything looks perfect and goes smoothly for the most part. Especially when their vows happen.

In front of the church everyone everyone is silent as Camila stars to speak.

“Lauren, when I first met you on the bus, I was so afraid. Not because you were creepy, but although in retrospect it kind of was creepy,” The recipients of the church get a kick out of this as Lauren rolls her eyes, “but that's not the point, you always say that I'm an angel, well, the day you met me I had my wings clipped but you-- I haven't told you this before but when I met you I was a bigger mess then put out. He made me feel like I was worth something, he told me he loved me, but when I learnt it was all artificial, it was a punch to the gut. But you came in-- You taught me how to love myself, healed my wings, made me feel worth it feather by feather. And if you leave me, I would watch my entire universe go away because if you truly wanted to, I would let you leave for I will put your happiness above my own, when it comes down to it. I love you with every fiber in my being and promise you to love you until the end of eternity.”

Lauren of course has a just as sappy response.

“Camila you are an angel. You protect me, love me and heal me. You accept every part of me. When I first met you I thought you were an angel God might have left behind. I can't speak in words how much you mean to me. And everyday with you you has been my own slice of heaven which I want forever. So Camz, I need to let you know that I will never leave you willingly. Not until, anything really. I promise you everything that I am because everything that I am and everything that I will be, is yours.”

It’s not a surprise that when Dinah asks if they take each other in holy matrimony they both say I do. As they kiss each other with all the love they have, tears running down Camila face, Ally discreetly slips Normani a twenty dollar bill.

The newly-weds walk down the aisle together, seeing both Ally and Normani looking at them tears in their eyes happy happy for the pair. When Camila gets outside she can't believe her eyes when she sees what's in front of her.

“Are you serious Lauren!”

With a shit-eating grin Lauren wears, Camila knows she planned this all along decides to laugh with the irony instead. She throws the bouquet, before entering the vehicle watching as Ally grabs the flowers.

As they both enter the bus, Dinah who they have grown quite close to over the years, is in the driver seat.

“Where to?” Dinah asks as she now adorns a cap that says Camren across the front.

“To Coldstones, Dinah.” the pair both say together.

As they sit in the couch area of the bus cuddling together once again, Camila can't hold it in any longer.

“So why a bus?”

Lauren laughs a bit when she decides to respond. “It was the most affordable, plus it can do this.” Lauren springs as she stands up, “See Camz, we can stand! Could you do that in a limo without going outside of it?”

Camila laughs at her excitement of standing.  What a dork. And looks at the king size bed at the very end of the bus.

She smirks as she grabs Laurens face into a passionate kiss.

“Thank you Lauren. For everything”

“Camila, I should be thanking you, for choosing me.”

As the idiots both smile, Dinah sees her heart fill with the Camren feels as she goes inside the Coldstones to get their order.

(She waits outside for 20 minutes because holy shit Camren is loud)

(When it's all over, they all make sure the Coldstone they first ate ice cream at looks ready enough for Normani to finally propose to Ally).

(Ally and Normani get married one year after. As Lauren sees Normani cry first Camren both slide Dinah twenty dollars)

(Dinah unsurprisingly is happy to be the future aunt and babysitter for special occasions in both of the pairs’ kids in the far future.)

------

Six months or so after the wedding Lauren, notified by the company was told she bought the bus, instead of renting it like she was suppose to. It came in the form of unpaid bills, which hurt her perfect credit score.

She tried everything in her power but they had a ninety day return policy which could not be extended under any circumstances.

So there Lauren was, with her own bachelorette pad as a married woman.

And although it would be deemed super useful when both Camila and Lauren needed some alone time away from the house, for most of her life, she is now hardly affording the bus with big payments due every month.

Like excuse me, I can only afford the bus!