By Keira S., Iowa

2020 Write Now Special Edition Winner - Elementary: grades 36

Mr. Melvin Allen, everybody knows him as 'Grumpy Al". He's known for yelling at all the kids that ride his bus, and nobody likes him.

Nobody knows why he yells and is never in a good mood, except Mrs. Winkle, since she had taught at the school as long as Mr. Melvin Allen had been driving the school bus.

But in his tenth year driving the bus, his wife Chrysanthemum died. He was so distraught that he almost got fired. Once that happened, he became depressed, and didn't take joy in anything anymore.

So, when he still had to work, he became grumpy and mean to the kids, and every teacher, except Mrs. Winkle.

Every teacher and student hated him, except for, of course, Mrs. Winkle. She was the only one that would defend him when she heard teachers or students talking bad about him.

She was the nicest teacher, and still people were surprised as to why she was so nice to him. At first, they all thought they were related somehow, but when they asked Mrs. Winkle, she said, "No, just close friends."

Anyone new coming to school was warned about Mr. Allen.

One day, on the first day of the new school year, Chrysanthemum Garcia was warned about Mr. Allen (Grumpy Al). She was always determined to have everybody she meets likes her, so she was determined to get the bus driver to like her too.

On her first day, she boarded the bus.

"Good morning, Mr. Allen, how are you doing today?" Chrysanthemum asked, but she didn't get an answer.

"Well, my name's Chrysanthemum by the way."

When she walked away, she didn't see Mr. Melvin Allen's mood changed. He hadn't heard the name since his wife died.

On the way to the school, he didn't yell at the kids, everybody was shocked. Most days, even though they did nothing wrong, he would yell.

Nothing was allowed on the bus, except their bookbags. No food, drinks, or entertainment. But, today he didn't care. At first, the kids were surprised, but then they got comfortable, and for the first time in years, the kids had fun on the bus ride to school.

When he got to school, he said, "Goodbye, have a good day."

This was the first time he had ever talked to the students in years.

That day, Mr. Melvin Allen didn't know what to think. He had never heard someone with the same name as his wife.

A few months later in December, Mr. Melvin Allen's mood changed drastically. He not only felt happy, he seemed happy.

He soon became the favorite bus driver. Every Friday, he gave out some kind of pastry. He let people have food and drinks on the bus, and he even played music.

He soon became called 'Mr. Mell'

But, it was too good to be true.

Sadly, Chrysanthemum got sick.

At first, no one knew what it was, but it turned out to be Lymphoma cancer.

She started to lose hair, so she shaved her head. Mr. Melvin Allen, some other teachers, and almost all of her friends shaved their heads too.

But, after about four months, she couldn't fight any longer. She died on April 20.

Mr. Melvin Allen was devastated.

When he arrived at her funeral, her mom walked up to Mr. Melvin Allen and just hugged him.

"Thank you for making Chrysanthemum's last months the happiest," said her mother

"What do you mean?"

"She always came home and said how everybody said you were mean and grumpy, but were actually really nice, and how you were her favorite part of the day,"

"She was always the happiest person, even due to the circumstances," Mr. Melvin Allen said with a smile.

"Oh, she said that if she ever did pass away she wanted me to give this to you." Chrysanthemum's mother grabbed a flower out of her purse.

It has been three years since Chrysanthemum has passed. Mr. Melvin Allen is still friends with her family, and they have dinner every Sunday.

Mr. Melvin Allen is still the same way with the students as when Chrysanthemum was there.

And that flower that flower left Mr. Melvin Allen, was a Chrysanthemum.

And to this day, he still has it, in a pot, by a window in his house.

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