Suze’s mother was the bus driver, and so to get to her birthday party all the kids needed to do was stay on the bus. The girls slung their bodies over the leathery seats to talk to one another, their hands near mouths so that secrets looked like secrets while the boys karate-chopped the air, their spitballs flying at the girls’ flat, bedazzled jean butts. Sit your asses down, Suze’s mother barked from under her baseball cap, Or no one gets any pizza. The girls shot all the hate they could muster over at Suze, their beady eyes laser beams of disgust, but Suze sat still in the seat behind her mother, keeping a steady finger rolling beneath each word of her book that she was desperate to finish, desperate to begin again — Shoot! A spitball to the nape of her neck. — Absolutely desperate to dog-ear another attempt for a birthday party no one could really give a crap about.
Suze’s Uncle Bob, her mother’s brother, was tying balloons to the mailbox, just off the highway, when the bus screeched its halt. The kids flew off the bus like a sneeze you can see, and raced into the open field by the side of the family’s trailer. A multicolored string of flags, like the ones new storefronts use to celebrate themselves, hung loosely from one tree to the only other tree until the rest of it just had to be tied to the steering wheel of a broken tyke cozy coupe. The boys cracked their soda cans open and guzzled enough to begin burping competitions while the girls walked around in pairs, sharing Dorito handfuls, their arms linked and looking over shoulders.
Suze sat Indian-style on the grass with a napkin of chips on her lap. She unpacked her backpack, called for her dog Bobo, and simultaneously watched both her birthday and the exhaust from barreling trucks dissipate into nothingness.