Souvenirs, School Buses, and Spirits | Teen Ink

Souvenirs, School Buses, and Spirits

November 19, 2021
By nimsho, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania
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nimsho, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania
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Author's note:

I enjoy attending art museums and wandering them but the lack of enjoyment in my school's art field trip inspired this story.

“Oh my god, look at that piece!” Ingrid shouted from the middle of the wide-spaced museum.

Several heads turned to look at the girl admiring the Delaware Art Museum’s Percy Ricks exhibit that featured an array of fine art and sculpture. Ingrid, too engrossed in the paint strokes of the painting she was standing in front of, didn’t notice a pair of steps hurriedly walking up behind her.

“Will you shut up? There are other people here and you’re gonna embarrass the whole school if you aren’t quieter,” Quinn, Ingrid’s senior friend hissed. They gave Ingrid a sharp kick in the shins making her let out a pained yelp. More heads turned to find the source of the noise as the two students were pulled to the side.

“Excuse me? Have you both forgotten that we’re on a field trip?” Mrs. Marinstone, a field trip leader, whispered to the two. “What was one of the most important rules we set in stone at the beginning of this trip?”

“‘Remember that you’re representing Hollberry Hills High School and that you should be on your best behavior at all times,’” the two droned on in unison.

“Exactly. So moving forward, if I hear another screech out of either of you, it’s back on the bus you go. And you don’t want to make me do that,” she narrowed her eyes in annoyance.

As the teacher guide marched off muttering to herself (“No respect for the arts I tell you!”), a scheming eye arched from a distance. The owner of the said pair of eyes proudly walked over from observing details on a wooden carving display.

“So Thing One and Thing Two got busted in public, huh? That’s embarrassing.”

Quinn and Ingrid looked up from staring angrily at the ground to see their other friend, Ellis, grinning down on them.

“You saw that too?” Quinn groaned. “Drat, I was hoping to have a better day than this.”

“So you’re blaming this on me now, is that how it is?” Ingrid snapped. “Why couldn’t you let me see the pieces in peace?”

“Because you were running around acting like a five-year-old, that’s why!” Quinn shot back. “Honestly, did you forget where we are? Didn’t you realize that you were-”

“I never asked for you to babysit me, you got into trouble yourself-!” Ingrid near shouted.

“Well, who else would have-”

Impatiently dragging a hand down their face, Ellis groaned, “Is this really worth bickering about and getting into trouble again? Both of you just shut it for the sake of everyone trying to observe this place. Ingrid, stop acting like a baby. Quinn, stop trying to fix everything and mind your own business.”

The two students gawked at Ellis, stunned into silence. After a few moments, Quinn shot up from crouching.

“As annoying as they are, Ellis has a point,” they grumbled. “I’m leaving.”

Ellis and Ingrid stared after Quinn storming off in the opposite direction. Ingrid slowly rose from the floor and muttered, “I wanna explore more so uh, see ya.”

Ellis sighed to themself as they watched their two friends taking off to different portions of the exhibit with obvious storm clouds over their heads. 

Their bickering can be such a pain sometimes Ellis thought in exasperation. Out of the corner of their eye, they spotted a brightly dressed figure inching through the exhibit. Recognizing it as yet another one of their friends, Ellis took off towards them.

“Jordan!” Ellish said in a hushed face as they stood next to their friend. The student whipped his head towards the familiar voice, clutching his phone tightly.

“Oh, it’s just you Ellis,” Jordan murmured with relief. “You gotta be careful about sneaking up on people like that, I could’ve jumped and knocked a sculpture over or something.”

Ellis shrugged. “I guess, but the fault would be on you for that ya know.”

“Mm,” Jordan nodded before turning back towards Streets of the Market, Zaria by James A. Porter. His camera shuttered twice as it snapped a couple of pictures of the painting. The freshman smiled down at his phone before he turned back towards Ellis.

“Wanna explore some more of the exhibit together? I already went to the gift shop,” he chirped.

“Sure, why not,” Ellis grinned and pointed to her right. “Have you been to that part yet?”


“Nope! Let’s go then,” Jordan said.


After 20 minutes more of art viewing and picture taking, Jordan and Ellis wandered back to the lobby of the museum. Ellis held Jordan’s gift bag as the younger student excitedly dug its contents.

“Gosh, I’m so glad my mom gave me some money for this trip! I got like three new art books and some pens and an autobiography from one of the exhibit artists!” Jordan rambled. “I’m gonna bring these to school every day and read them every night until I know them from cover to cover.”

“Can I peek at one while we’re on the bus?” Ellis asked.

Nodding enthusiastically, Jordan answered, “Sure!”

Ellis smiled to themselves, almost completely forgetting about the encounter they had with their other friends earlier until stomping behind them perked their ears.

“Whacha got there?” Quinn asked from behind them both.

“Oh, hi Quinn!” Jordan exclaimed. “I got some books from the gift shop. Wanna read one?”

“No thanks,” Quinn answered quickly. “I just wanna go back to school now, I don’t even want lunch.”

“What happened with you?” Ellis questioned. Quinn narrowed their eyes at them.

“Someone stole my money,” Quinn grumbled.

“What? Really?” Jordan’s eyes widened.

“Pretty sure,” Quinn huffed. “I triple-checked before we got off the bus and once I went up to the cashier, it’s like it up and disappeared.”

“Aw, that really sucks,” Jordan frowned. “Do you think you might know who took it? Did you ask a teacher?”

Looking angrier than they already were, Quinn simply said, “Ingrid.”

“Ingrid wouldn’t do something like that!” Jordan defended. “Sure, she can be a bit much but-”

“How the hell would you know?” Quinn spat. Jordan’s mouth shut immediately. 

“They were the only person I was sitting next to on the bus and then we got into a fight in the exhibit so obviously they took my cash to get back at me,” Quinn gritted their teeth. 

“That’s a low even for them, though,” Ellis attempted to reason. “Maybe it fell out somewhere-”

“You know what? I’m getting pretty sick and tired of you being the fixer upper around here, Ellis,” Quinn’s head turned to them.  “Like seriously, who even asked you?”

Brushing it off, Ellis stepped forward. “I’m just trying to look out for you, that’s all. I’ll leave you alone, though, since I don’t wanna catch a case of the grumpy goblin or whatever’s making your mood suck so bad.” 

Jordan watched in shock as Ellis walked closer to the exit doors and away from Quinn. He glanced over at Quinn last time viewing their anger-stricken face and rushed after Ellis.

“Hey, are you-?” Jordan started.

“I’ll be fine,” Ellis answered quickly. “Those two have just been at each other’s throats and it’s starting to get on my nerves.”

Jordan nodded silently, observing Ellis’ features. Ellis isn’t one to get angry at people very easily. In fact, they’re usually trying to solve conflicts between them and avoid them. 


Once the school bus pulled into the front lot of the museum, the field trip teachers took a headcount of everyone. Standing next to Ellis, Jordan realized that the two of them were not standing anywhere near Quinn or Ingrid. Worry pooled in his stomach as he bordered the bus.

He plopped down in a seat next to Ellis who had turned to face the window. Watching as more students entered the bus and found their seats, he saw Quinn take a whole seat for themselves at the back of the bus while Ingrid sat alone towards the front of the bus. Both look extremely peeved.

Once everyone was seated, the bus driver took their place in their seat and yelled, “Hope ya’ll enjoyed the museum! It’s one of my favorites.”

A chorus of cheers and agreements sounded thtoruhg the bus. Quinn rolled their eyes while Ingrid stared at their shoes. Ellis stayed quiet.

Sounds of the ignition being turned on rumbled the large vehicle before it stalled unexpectedly. Students could hear the bus driver chuckling nervously, turning the ignition key over and over again with the same result coming out of it.

Students leaned forward in their seats to overhear the hushed conversation between Mrs. Marinstone and the bus driver. Noting their worried looks, the field trip goers assumed the worst.

“Greetings, students. As you can probably assume from the lack of movement from the bus, it has unfortunately broken down,” Mrs. Marinstone said. Murmurs in the bus immediately flared before Mrs. Marinstone waved her hand for silence. 

“We’re going to call the school to update them on our situation and ask for another bus to be sent. Please sit tight as we do these things,” she added.

“What about lunch?” someone in the back of the bus yelled.

“Until we get a working vehicle, we’re gonna have to wait on that,” Mrs. Marinstone answered. Several groans resonated through the bus.

“At least I can catch up with my art books now,” Jordan said to himself, pulling one out of his paper gift bag. Ellis silently turned to watch him flip through it.

As Jordan flipped to a random image in the middle of the book, it began to shake violently. Both students’ eyes flew open, watching the absurd event unfold.

“What in the-?” Ellis whispered before leaning back against the window. Jordan dropped the book, terrified as it had begun to radiate a bright red color. The loud thud of his book attracted the attention of students sitting near them, some of them beginning to scream.

“What is it doing?”

“Mrs. Marinstone, there’s something happening!”

“It’s glowing, why’s it glowing?”

Unbeknownst to Ellis and Jordan, this same event was happening to other students on the book and their purchased merchandise. Books and objects with printed artworks and images began to shake and glow mysteriously. 

Suddenly, a translucent figure shot up out of Jordan’s book, sailing through the air. Screams and wails erupted in the bus.

“A ghost!”

“We’re gonna die!”

“How did it even get here?!”

Several flying figures began gathering in the air, floating in the air and looking down at the students. Cowering in fear, several students sank down in their seats as far as they could.

Ellis clung to Jordan’s violently shaking figure, both staring at the figures in the air. 

“Hold on, is that..?” Jordan questioned, voice shaking. “The art from my book?”

Indeed, the figures seen in Guardians of the Image Makers by Percy Eugene Ricks were looking directly at them. Well, more like glaring with fiery hatred. Similar figures from the museum’s artworks stared down at the students, remaining silent and overwhelming.

Out of the corner of his eye, Jordan could see Ingrid cowering in her seat away from a group of the art spirits, shaking violently. He could hear Quinn whimpering, “Stay back! Leave me alone!” from the back of the bus.

Without warning, a chorus of voices boomed in the bus. 

“We the pieces of the Delaware Museum of Art have been awakened from our slumber. This is due to disagreements and fighting made in our presence, bickering, and yelling keeping us from rest. We have put up with it for long enough and from how it ceased to end, have come to deal with the situation ourselves. As we have formerly slept, sleep. As we have come to deal with the matter at hand, you yourselves must face your enemy. Your disrespect for the arts will be put up with no longer. Face the consequences of your actions and discourse,” the art piece spirits spoke.

Suddenly, the spirits rushed at the students all at once, passing through their screaming and panicked forms. Once a student or teacher had been touched by a spirit, they slumped in their place silently, eyes falling closed. Sounds of panic gradually fell silent in the bus as those who were to avoid punishment fell into a deep sleep.

Ellis and Jordan, still clinging to each other, inched up from their seat to peer over it. To their surprise, only they, Quinn, and Ingrid had been spared. The artwork ghosts hovered over the four of them, glaring silently.

None of the friends spoke for a few moments before Ingrid screamed, “You can’t do this to me! Who even are you? Why are you even-”

“Complete the assignment you have been assigned at once,” the spirits spoke in unison, cutting her off. Ingrid back down in her seat.

“So are we like, supposed to apologize to each other or something?” Quinn piped up from the back of the bus. Too afraid to move from their seat, they looked up at the ghosts. The spirits remained silent.

“Hello? Did you hear me?” Quinn repeated. “Why are we being-”

“Complete the assignment you have been assigned at once,” the spirits choruses again. 

“What a load of bull,” Quinn whispered.

“I think you’re-I mean we are supposed to apologize to each other,” Ellis spoke up. Quinn and Ingrid looked at each other from across the bus, arguing silently.

“This is all our fault,” Jordan’s eyes watered. “If we just got along, everyone would be safe and we wouldn’t be in danger and then the bus wouldn’t have broken down and-”

“The longer your union is stalled, the longer this gathering will stay in slumber. Wait too long and the slumber will extend infinitely. Genuine union must be achieved for guaranteed consciousness,” the spirits spoke up.

“So if I’m putting this together properly,” Ellis murmured aloud, “We need to apologize to each other genuinely to ensure that everyone remains safe or else we’ll all…”

“W-we’ll all,” Jordan stuttered, unbelieving. 

“I’m not apologizing to you,” Ingrid glared at Quinn from across the bus. 

Staring back, Quinn sneered, “I don’t want your stupid apology anyw-”

“Your countdown begins now!” the spirits shouted together, gathering in a circle in the air. Lifting their hands, they began to glow and change the surroundings of the bus. 

“What is happening?” Jordan shouted as he covered his eyes from the bright light.

A flash answered the young student and he was lifted into the air. 


The four friends slowly opened their eyes at the same time, observing their new surroundings. Stars twinkled back at them, a medley of gloomy color swirling around them. Their levitating forms twisted in the air, not being able to identify solid ground.

Ellis heard a sharp gasp to their side. They turned to see Jordan look up into the sky, their eyes following his line of vision.

Above the four students were the art piece spirits arranged in a large circle. They were seated in solid gold chairs of enormous size, the setting replicating a courtroom meeting.

A booming voice above them announced, “The art of owning up to and apologizing for one’s wrongs must be utilized properly in order to move forward in all things. The four of you caused much disruption to the peace of our exhibit and have angered us greatly. In order to right your wrongs, you have been given the time span of ten minutes to own up to your mistakes. 

“Your time officially begins now,” a gavel sound echoed through the space. An astral clock appeared above them, ticking down from 10:00, 9:59, 9:58..


Ingrid, Ellis, and Jordan turned to look at Quinn and their crossed arms. “I’m sorry, I guess. Even though I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Ingrid scoffed. “Sure you didn’t.”

Tilting their head to the side, Quinn stared at them angrily. “Like you’re one to talk here.”

“Guys please-” Ellis started. 

“Shut up!” Ingrid and Quinn shouted at them at the same time. 

The three upperclassmen ceased their bickering at once when they heard sniffling. Turning, they all saw Jordan hugging himself, wiping his tears off his face hurriedly.

“Please,” he rasped, throat dry from crying. “I don’t want to die.”

Ellis rushed over to him, hugging him to herself. “Hey, we’re not gonna die here. I’m sorry for scaring you and making you cry,” she whispered.

Ingrid walked over and hugged Jordan’s backside and muttered, “Sorry.”

Quinn huffed to themselves and turned away from the scene. “I would be sorry if I knew what to be sorry about. I literally didn’t do anything wrong!”

Ingrid chuckled to herself. “You still haven’t figured it out yet? Getting me in trouble, yelling at me maybe?” 

Quinn growled. “You were being an idiot, I was saving you from embarrassing yourself.”

“I was doing perfectly fine thank you very-”

Before Ellis could speak up, Jordan yelled, “Don’t you guys get it yet! Your fighting since we got off the bus is why we’re in trouble! This is why we could die!’

Everyone fell silent again as Jordan looked up at the spirit council of judgement, eyes spilling over with tears. A twinkling 7:42 blinked back at him.

Voice shaking, he whispered, “And we’re running out of time.”

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