With apologies to Mr. Bill

A very old memory re-surfaced recently. I can’t say exactly when it came into my mind or what activity triggered it. I only remember that one day, it was a part of my psyche and I knew I had known it for a long time.

In this memory, I am in kindergarten. And, my friend, Tina, also a kindergartener and our kindergarten bus driver, Mr. Bill, are part of it, too.

I remember that I was going to go to Tina’s house after school to play and then, have a sleepover. The plan was that I would get off of the bus with her at her house. How I loved going to Tina’s. Her mom would be home and have a well rounded lunch ready for us, and ask us to show her our school work and proudly display our stuff on the refrigerator. It was totally unlike my house, since my mom worked shifts as a nurse at the hospital and I had to scrounge around all by myself after school to find something to eat.

Now, I can’t explain why we were the last two kids on the bus. Normally, there would have been a handful of other kindergarteners still on the bus in route to their own houses, after Tina and I departed. Maybe, on this particular day, we were busy chatting and missed her stop. Maybe, later when we realized it, we told Mr. Bill, and he said he would bring us back after he finished the route.

So, we are the only two kids on the bus, and when it nears Tina’s house, it speeds up, rather than slows to a stop. And, Mr. Bill passes her house in a flash. And, Tina and I yell for him to stop, but he ignores us and continues on down the road. We realize he is kidnapping us and we are scared. I get out of our seat and make my way to the front of the bus, and I begin to give Mr. Bill a piece of my mind. I tell him that if he doesn’t turn around and take us back to Tina’s that our parents would be very mad and that he would get arrested. I plead with him the whole way down the hill to the end of the road. I was scared out of my wits on the inside, but did not want Tina and Mr. Bill to know that.

And, then, when he could have made that final turn that would take us far away, forever, he instead, turned around and drove back up the hill and dropped us off at Tina’s house, unharmed. As Tina and I walk up her driveway, I tell her to never tell of this incident. Mr. Bill would be very mad at us, if we told, and, who knows what would happen then, so we must keep this as our secret.

And, we never spoke of it again.

After I became aware of this memory, I tried to remember more about it. Somewhere back there in the deep recesses of my mind, there must be more. Why were Tina and I the last two children on the bus? When the bus did not stop at Tina’s house, why didn’t her mom hop in her car and follow? What was I wearing that day? Did Tina ever tell her mom? Did her mom call my mom and did Mr. Bill get fired? Or, arrested? Has Tina, ever, in all these years, remembered this incident?

So, I decided I would ask Tina about it. I waited through all of the holidays – after all, this would have been a somewhat traumatic experience for two little girls, and if she has erased it from her memory, I didn’t want to upset her at Christmastime. And, I continued to think about it.

Finally, on Sunday morning, (yes, just the other day) I woke up early and wrote out this memory and sent a direct message detailing everything I could remember to Tina on Facebook. After about 15 minutes, I deleted it, thinking that if she had successfully suppressed this terrible memory all these years, I could not traumatize her. I mean, how do I know if she might have had an unexplainable fear of all men named Bill her whole life and never knew why?

So, I called her mother. I hadn’t talked to Tina’s mom in at least 10 years, probably longer! She was so very cool, just like I remember! And, after a few minutes of catching up, I relayed my story. She had no recollection of it. But, as she pointed out, Tina, may have, indeed, kept the whole terrible incident from her. And, she suggested I talk to Tina about it.

The next step was to contact Tina. I can’t remember, for sure, but I don’t think I’ve seen or spoken to Tina since my mother died in 2002. Yes, we had connected recently on Facebook, but since she hardly uses it, I don’t count the vague hello we said a few months back when we connected as a legitimate contact.

Turns out, Tina has absolutely no recollection of my memory, either. And, Tina’s memory is long. She would have remembered.

And, so, I’ve come to realize this never happened. It was only a dream.

Honestly, I’m relieved. But, it still feels weird, though.