The bus lurched forward and started soaring again, sweeping left and swooping right. All the little kidoodles did what they could to hold on, but it was difficult.
One by one they reached out their hands to hold on to each other. One by one they held fast and would not let go, and soon all the kidoodles were holding hands, except for little Juan and Pedro, who were still frowningly scowling at each other.
“Take his hand, Pedro!” hollered Pascal.
“No!” cried the little boy.
“Juan, grab hold!” ordered Alyx, one of the smallest and fiercest of the bus’s passengers.
“I don’t want to!”
“You have to!” they all shouted. “Now!”
But the brothers were so mad at each other that they just wouldn’t – couldn’t – hold hands, even if it put themselves and all their little friends in danger.
Meanwhile, Connie just kept getting more and more upset. She swooped left now, and swept right. She soared up, and dove down. She lurched, heaved, groaned, grumbled, grumped and skidded sweepingly both left and right, high in the big, beautiful black of space, but still the brothers would not take hands.
Suddenly, the front door opened, and Clive flipped the OXYGEN switch on his panel.
“Argh!” cried Pedro. “I’m being sucked toward the door!”
“Hold my hand, Pedro! Quick!” cried Pascal.
He was indeed being sucked away from the group and toward the front door. He tried to grab each seat as he passed, but he couldn’t get a grip, and in only moments he was passing his brother, looking into his eyes as the vacuum of space was starting to take hold.
‘Help me!” he hollered. “Please!”
Juan held firm to the nearest seat. He looked at Pedro. He was still mad at him, but with that look in the eyes something triggered inside him, and he realized that even though he was angry he actually kind of liked having a brother. In a flash he recalled all the times they’d just sat and talked, finished each others’ sentences and laughed about it. Then he remembered all the times that Pedro had stood up for him in the playground, or steadied him while they were riding their bikes, and from there it was the work of only a moment for him to decide that yes, he needed to do something to save his little brother.
“I’m not your little brother!” cried Pedro, who, it would seem, had somehow heard his brother’s thoughts.
“Yes, you are, I was born ten minutes before you, so…”
“Okay, okay, fine. But help me!”
Just then Pedro’s grip on the last seat loosened.
“Help me, please!” he hollered. He was scared now, and the wide-open door was looking really, really big.
Just as Pedro slipped toward the door, Juan sprang into action. He dove headlong toward the first row of seats, past the bus driver’s outstretched hand, and grabbed hold of the handrail. Then he lunged toward his brother and reached out. The force of the vacuum of space tried to take them both, but he held tight to the hand rail and would not let his brother go. He would never again let his brother go.
“Auggghh!” cried Pedro. He was scared – very scared – but he felt okay now because he had his brother’s hand in his and somehow he knew he was going to be alright. As mad as his brother had made him, he knew he could rely on him, no matter what.
Just then, Juan felt other hands behind him. Daisy was holding him from behind, wrapping her arms around his waist so he could let go of the hand rail and use both of his hands to grab hold of Pedro. Somehow he knew that his friends had gathered behind him and were keeping him safe, so he held fast to Pedro and slowly dragged his brother back into the bus.
They slipped back inside, and just as they cleared the doorway, the doors magically snapped shut and the tired little kidoodles floated back up inside.
Juan and Pedro hugged each other and cried.
“I’m sorry, Pedro, I shouldn’t have been so mean.”
“Well, I’m sorrier,” blubbed Pedro. “You can put your foot wherever you like.”
“And you can have my potato any time!”
All their little kidoodle friends were smiling at this wonderful development, and as Connie the bus settled back down again and stopped rumbling and grumbling and soaring all over the place, Clive the driver somehow managed to conceal a little smile as he flipped the ADV TIME switch on his panel to OFF.
He looked down toward the earth and took the wheel.
Yup, he thought. It’s time to get these little kidoodles to school.