49. BusToday is going to be different, Brad thought as the school bus got closer. Today, he was going to go in with the attitude that nothing could go wrong. It seemed silly when his father suggested a different mental state, but he didn’t have anything to lose. “You can’t control what other people do,” his dad said; “you can only control how you react to it.”

How he wanted to react — to bar the doors and burn the middle school to the ground — wasn’t going to fly, so positive mental attitude it was.

As the bus got closer, Brad reminded himself of everything he had going for him. He was smart, all his limbs worked… and he was sure there were other things, which eluded him as the bus pulled up.

He took a deep breath as the doors opened, and got on. The bus lurched ahead before he scoped out a seat, and even though he had expected it — the same thing happened every time — he still had to grab the a seat back to stop from falling.

PMA, he thought as he looked for a place to sit in the nearly full bus.

Seats by girls were off the table, as were seats with older kids (especially Brent, who must have failed at least two grades to be that much bigger and meaner).

That left Chris, Terry and Shawn, none of whom looked eager to share their space.

“Sit down!” the bus driver yelled.

PMA, Brad thought.