Summer Again (Prologue)

Some person or other said that you don’t know who you are until you’re pushed to your breaking point.  I think it was someone like Winston Churchill.  Don’t really know.  But I can say that that summer, all of us were pushed to our limits, and went into a world that none of us wanted to.  All to get justice for a friend.  Someone I cared about so much.  Maybe, if he ever comes back from what happened to him, I can care about him again.  I want to.  Want those good, innocent days back again.  You never know what you’ve got until it’s not there anymore.  This is gonna be a long story, but I wanna tell it.  So bear with me.  Please.
It ain’t for the faint of heart.  If you can’t handle ugly, twisted, scary things, you should walk away now.  But it’s the truth.  One that the police and our parents can’t wash away with everything else.  What do I start?  I guess it would be when school got out, that fateful summer…

Staring at the clock on the wall is always the worst.  The absolute worst.  Had my science teacher tell me that time doesn’t really slow down when you watch the clock.  Same as when you watch a pot boil.  What does he know?!  Clearly he was never a kid who wanted to get out of school on that last day.  I shouldn’t say that.  That’s mean.  Mr. Bergie is a cool guy.  Probably the coolest teacher here.  I remember when he brought in the beaver to dissect for the class.  That was crazy!  But cool.  All the digesting wood in its gut.
Yeah, this is why mom says I’m a tomboy.  Every other girl was totally grossed out.  I thought it was awesome!  We got to dissect a frog too, and that pretty cool.  I was gonna miss him.  But that didn’t stop me from watching that clock and desperately wishing it would hit 3:00 so we could get the hell out of there!
Looked over at Johnny.  He was my best friend.  Well, one of them.  We had this little crew.  Me, Johnny, our big man Eli who was kind of the ringleader, and Griffin.  It’s weird, because Griffin is Eli’s cousin, but he’s black.  You’d never know the two were related, on his dad’s side.  They’ve been best bros for ages.  Grew up together, and would do anything for each other.  Sometimes I thought Griffin was a bit of a perv, but he was always cool with me.  There was this one girl he was all over who lived down the way from Eli.  I think Eli has a crush on her, but he isn’t talking about it.  Part of me thinks that she likes him too.  I don’t know, call it a gut feeling.
Finally, and I hella mean FINALLY, the clock hit 3 and the bell went off.  Mrs. Guyer told us all to have a good summer and whatever, but none of us were listening.  I grabbed my backpack and was running for the door.  Johnny was right on my heels.
“Dude, we have to call Eli tonight!  I wanna be at the first showing!”
I nodded.  “Hell yeah!”
“Language, Sara!” I heard a voice call.  Mr. McCourt was giving me a mean look.  I shrugged at him.  It’s summer.  Don’t care about his rules.
“So, you got your ticket money?” Johnny asked.
“You know it.  Daddy always gives me some pocket money when I give him the puppy-dog face.”
He rolled his eyes.  “Yeah, well, I had to work for mine, beeotch.  Mom don’t give me shit.”
“But you got it covered, right?”
“Yeah, I do.  We’re good to go.”
“Better be.  I’m not gonna miss out on Jurassic Park because your ass is broke.”
We got outside and saw Eli and Griffin standing there talking.  The two of us ran over.
“Man, could today have gone any fucking slower?” Eli asked.
“I know, right?!” I replied.
“Dude, I couldn’t believe Ms. Pettijohn wanted to give a lecture on the last day that we had a quiz about!” Griffin said, almost with a snarl.  “That’s just evil.”
Johnny snorted.  “Ms. Pettijohn is evil.  What else is new?”
Eli had a grumpy look on his face.  “Okay, new rule – no more school talk for the duration of summer.  Ya’ll are driving me frickin’ crazy.”
I nodded.  “Word!  Let’s pretend school doesn’t exist.”
Johnny gave us a look.  “Hard to do when it’s right behind us.”
Everyone groaned.  Literal as fuck!  This guy, dude.

We biked home.  Everyone was stoked about the movie.  The trailers were everywhere, so everyone was talking about.  I’d seen Eli with the book it’s based on.  Dude always loved books.  Been in his house, he had a ton of them.  Never could get into that stuff.  Give me a good movie or a video game any day over that.  Or learning about cars with uncle Tom.  He could tell me all about his cool cars and how they run all day.  Fucking rad, dude.
All of us were so excited.  This was our big plan for the summer.  See the movie, and talk about it.  We were hoping to get one of our parents to drop us off.  But that was something else to plan.  I just knew we’d have a million things to talk about.  A great beginning to what was hopefully gonna be an awesome summer.
We chilled at our old fort.  Set up under this really huge and really old pine tree.  It had these branches that went way far out and hung down in the front, but were big enough underneath to hide our place.  We had a chest here with our stuff, and a lock that only we knew the combination too.  There was also this rope wrapped around the tree that we could swing around from.  It wasn’t the most crazy fort, but this place was where we had been meeting up ever since we were tiny.
This summer was gonna be awesome.  I was absolutely sure of it.  Nothing could fuck up how amazing it was gonna be.

It started to get dark, so we made our way home.  Perks of being in the 7th grade now – we had a lot more freedom.  Dad’s rule was – it gets dark, you get home.  Simple enough, and summer had nights getting longer, so we had plenty of time.
I came up on my house when I looked over and saw a girl who lived next door.  Her name was Kate.  If we were superheroes, she’d be my arch-nemesis.  We are polar opposites.  I’m jeans, t-shirts, and a baseball cap with the 49ers on it.  She’s sun-dresses, makeup, and a cute hat.  Girl always wore hats.  At least we had that in common.  Except my hat was always the same.  Kate liked clothes.
“Hey Sara!” she called out.
Parking my bike, I smiled at her.  “Hey.”  Every time I saw her, I felt warm inside.  Over the past couple years, it had been getting stronger.  Wasn’t sure why.
“School’s out!  That’s pretty cool.”
“Hell yeah!”
She winced at the swearing.  Girl came from a super religious family.
“I got some big plans!”
“Still going to see that movie?” she asked.
“Nothin’s gonna stop us from seeing it!  Make no bones about it, we are going to that film!”
Kate smiled a bit.  “Just you and your friends?”
“Well yeah.  I mean, I don’t know who else would wanna go.”
She shifted her feet a bit.  Why so awkward?
“Maybe I’d wanna go.”
I chuckled a bit.  “Dude, your parents would NEVER let you see Jurassic Park.  It’s got the word ‘evolution’ in it.  They’d never even talk about letting you see it.”
There was a mischief look on her face.  “Well, maybe I don’t tell them we’re going to see it.  Maybe I just tell them I’m hanging out with you and your friends.  Not really a lie, right?”
Was a little impressed at that, not gonna lie.  “Girl’s sneaking around to see a movie.  Wow.  Wonder what Jesus would think?”
She rolled her eyes.  “I’m pretty Jesus has bigger problems than me seeing a movie with a friend.”
“That ain’t how your parents think.”
“Yeah, well, I’m not them.”  She was smiling right at me.  Made me want to melt.  What was up?  “So, think I can come with you?”
Gave her a little look.  “Well, I gotta ask the others.  We’re getting Eli’s sister to drive us.  Don’t know if there’s room.”
A little giggle.  “I could always sit in your lap.”
Heart pounded!  What the hell?!  “I mean, yeah, maybe.  I’ll let you know.”
“Cool.  I better go in.  Dinner will be done soon.”
“Yeah, me too.”
We kept staring at each other.
“Good night,” she said, finally.
“Night.”
What a weird thing that just happened.  Wasn’t sure what it was.  It felt like…nah.  Couldn’t be.

Dinner was always hella awkward.  Mom’s on this crusade to try and get me to be all girly and shit.  I hate it!  Which meant more shopping trips to the mall to try and dresses and make her happy.  I knew that if I didn’t, she’d try and stop me from hanging out with my friends.  Sometimes you gotta just suck it up and deal.  I never let her buy any of it for me, and I especially will NEVER wear any of it.
Daddy’s cooler.  I think he likes that I’m a tomboy because he always wanted a son.  Instead, he got three girls.  My oldest sister, Jenny, is in college.  She’s going for pre-med to become a surgeon.  Everyone is hella proud of her.  Then there’s Melissa.  She’s a junior in high school, and she wants to join the Army after getting out.  Become a military doctor.  That makes both my parents super proud and super nervous at the same time.  I remember the news that Dad would read and watch every night back when Desert Storm was going on.  It was scary stuff to see.  But she told them she wants to be a doctor in the military because they would pay for college.  That’s smart.
Then there’s me.  The tomboy who just lives life and doesn’t think that far ahead.  Being in the military could be cool, but definitely not Army.  I’m thinking Navy, so I shoot a big gun!  I remember going to the Naval shipyard where they build ships and submarines.  Uncle Tom works there, but he’s not military.  He’s part of the crew who builds stuff.  Took me on base once and showed me some of the stuff there.  It was rad!  Big guns and he talked about how many people it took to use them.  That sounded so fucking cool.  If I was gonna serve, that’s how I’d do it.  Shooting things with big guns.  Hope Uncle Tom would take me shooting one of these days.  He said he would.  See if he would take all of us.  Bet Eli would get hella nervous being around guns.
After dinner I went upstairs.  Didn’t even try and get any phone time.  Figured if Mom wasn’t trying to get online to play Jeopardy, then Mel was talking to her boyfriend.  Those two were so gross together.  Every second of every day he’s clinging on to her like a fucking bat.  Made a joke that I knows who wears the pants in that relationship, and it ain’t him.  Don’t think she liked that very much.
It was really late at night, past my bedtime, when the call came in.  Mom yelling about who would be calling now, and Dad picking up the phone.  Suddenly, he sounded very worried.  Could hear mom getting up, walking down to the phone.  Now my curiosity was piqued.
“Well, maybe he’s at one the other boy’s houses.” I could heard Dad say.
A pause.
“Oh god.  Okay.  We’ll start a search first thing in the morning.  Break of dawn, you have my word.”
Another pause.
“Looking for him at night would be counterproductive.  He’s a smart kid.  He’ll stay where he is so he can be easier to find.  I know it’s scary.  But we’ll find him!”
Now I was at the top of the stairs.  Dad looked up and his eyes met mine.  In that instant, I knew that something bad had happened.  Who were they looking for?!
“You called the police.  They’ll get a search party ready.  First light, we’re gonna go out there and we’ll find him.  I know, Evelyn.  I’m worried too.  But when one of us goes missing, this community will come together to find them.  Try and get some sleep.  You’re gonna need your strength in the morning.”
He hung up the phone, still looking at me.
“Sara, honey.  Johnny’s gone missing.  He never came home.  His mom called Eli’s parents and Griffin’s dad.  Nobody’s seen him.”
This ugly feeling came into my gut.  An ugly, horrible feeling.  He wouldn’t not go home!  Something happened!
“We’re gonna form a search party and look for him in the morning.”
“I’m coming with you!” I damn-near shouted.
“Honey, that’s not such a great idea,” Mom started.
“If you tell me no, I’m just gonna go looking for him on my own!”
The two of them looked at each other, then dad nodded.
“Okay, sweetie.  Be up, first thing tomorrow.”
That wasn’t a hard thing to ask for.  I didn’t sleep a wink that night.

Next day, to dad’s credit, a ton of people gathered.  There was Officer Lewllyn, and his wife.  A young patrol cop and his partner.  Eli and his family, Griffin and his, even Kate and her family.  Friends of Johnny’s family.  There was even family who came from out of town.  Said they drove all night.  Lots of neighbors.  Some of which I knew.  Chief Joe (that’s his last name.  I know, confusing.  He has two first names) came out and broke out a map.  He had drawn up a series of areas that he had likely gone missing.  Everyone got together and started breaking down areas to search.
I got together with Eli and Griffin.  All we could do is walk with everyone.  Couldn’t think of any words.  None of us could.  Kate came over and walked with us too.  I liked that.  The morning dragged on and one.  People calling Johnny’s name, looking for some evidence of him.  Some false-alarms.  A homeless guy who appeared out of the forest, looking disheveled.  Seen the dude around the diner Mom works at.  Nice enough, but you always are a little careful.
The search went on for hours, but there was nothing.  We just kept going around and around, but nothing was found.  Not a single trace.  It was like he vanished from existence.  His route home was always the same.  Always.  We should have found something.  It was nearly nighttime when the search was called off.  Chief said it would “reconvene in the morning.”  Whatever the fuck that meant.

Hours turned into days.  Days when I had no appetite, no desire to do anything except sit in our fort and cry.  You have all those stupid PSAs about being careful and stranger danger and shit.  Guess it was more than something just talking.  Then, after two and a half agonizing weeks, he finally turned up.  Though, I don’t think he was supposed to.
Dad got the call from Officer Lewllyn.  He said that a couple fishermen found a body on the river’s edge, north of town.  He’s alive, but they didn’t think he was supposed to be.  There were rope marks like he was tied to something and thrown in the river.  It came loose, whatever it was.  He floated downstream, washing up on the bank.  Dad didn’t tell me how bad it was, but he was hurt.  Said it was really bad.  The fact that he’s still alive is amazing.  We went to the hospital.
I nearly ran inside.  Was told what room he was in, and charged upstairs.  When I got there, Eli was already there.  He walked over and put his arms around me.  I liked that.  I needed to be hugged right now.  Normally not the type, but I really, really needed it.  Johnny’s mom was there.  She was a mess.  Makeup that was smeared, trying to look like she was holding it together.
The adults all talked, but that wasn’t why I was here.  I walked over to where the bed was.  A curtain was drawn around it.  Walking inside, I stopped cold.  There, lying on the bed, was Johnny.  He didn’t look human.  Tubes in his mouth, one in his nose.  His skin was red and purple.  There was a giant bandage around his hand.  Bandages all over his body.  What the fuck happened?!
Eli put his arms around me again.  The dude had a gift at knowing when I needed to be held.  It was so awful.
“We’re gonna get to the bottom of this,” he whispered in my ear.  “I swear, we’re gonna find out who did this.  And then fucking kill them!”

When I got home, there was nothing that I could feel.  Food had no taste.  Nothing mattered.  I just went into my room and crashed into my bed.  Sleep finally greeted me.  I don’t think I was awake long enough to perceive hitting the pillow.  Just gone.

My eyes opened and I was in a white room.  On a bed that was really, really uncomfortable.  Sitting up, I saw that I was wearing a weird off-green shirt and pants.  Super light.  What the fuck was this?  There was a a window on the door.  It showed sunlight coming in.  My room had a desk as well, with a light.  It was off.  Getting up, my feet greeted the freezing cold floor.  That sucked.  There were slippers.  Like something you’d see in a hospital.  Weird.
Knocking on the door, I tried to look out.  It was taller than I was.
“Hello?  Is anyone there?”
There was a brief pause, and then the door opened.  Standing there was a very large black woman, with curly hair and a kindly look on her face.
“Hey there, honey.  You’re finally up!”
“Where am I?”
She frowned.  “You don’t know?  This is the Millwood Asylum.  We look after people who have mental problems.”
Oh no.  Oh fucking no!  I was in a mental asylum?!  Wait, who even calls them that anymore?
“I’m not crazy!  What am I doing here?!”
The woman gave me a gentle smile.  Very motherly.  “Oh honey, it’s okay.  You’ve nothing to be afraid of here.  We’re gonna help you get better.  That’s why you were brought here.”  She motioned toward the door.  “Come on.  Let’s get you to meeting the population.  I’m sure you’ll have a lot to talk about.”
Part of me knew that this place was connected to what was happening outside.  Don’t ask me how I knew.  I just did.  What the fuck was I going to do now?

Until next time, a quote,

“The instruments are gruesome, but a hole in the head gives the troubles more space!” – Nurse, Alice: Madness Returns

Peace out,

Maverick

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Old War Stories: Coming Home

They never tell you what it’s like, when you leave the battlefield and return to civilian life.  I’ve had so many comrades going home, and I honestly wonder if they are doing well.  They said that they would be sending letters to me, so I suppose I’ll be able to see for myself if what they said is true.  However, as I got off the train and headed down that dusty pavement path, I couldn’t help but wonder if they had the same feeling as I did.  My hand sat on the hilt of my blade.  It looked so regal on me now, but that wasn’t its purpose.  That wasn’t the purpose it had served for me, during my days as a soldier.  This weapon has blood on it.  So much blood.  It’s stained my hands, my dreams, my memories.  Everything is stained, now.
The first thing I notice is the wind.  There is never, and I do mean never, not a breeze running through this place.  In the summer, it is warm winds from the south, bringing rain and sunshine to the crops that grow.  During the winter, it is bitter and terrible winds from the east and the north, biting cold and making you appreciate your hot garva that much more.  It feels so good.  The trees lining the road shake and I feel that hot air on me.  It’s such a good feeling.  Summer is coming to an end.  The harvest will be happening soon.  That means the Harvest Festival.  Not a bad time to come home.  Sheer chance, though.  I was bound by my oath until the war ended.
A motor vehicle passes by.  The driver is some rowdy kid, clearly having just been given this new toy.  Its not uncommon to see vehicles, even out here.  We’re about 20 years behind the times of every place you’ll ever go.  I pull the duffle across my back in tighter.  It was slipping.  Hearing my feet on the pavement, the wind on my face, my thoughts drift back to old memories.  I come out past the trees, and see the wheat fields of several families.  This brought something back.

“Give it back!” she shouted.
I kept running.  The girl was gaining on me, but I wasn’t about to let her have her way.
“Gotta ask real nice, Lily!”
“I’ll ask when I hit you really hard!”  Her pace is quickening.  It’s only a matter of time until she gets me.  Dressed in her overalls, and her blue shirt, the indignant look on her face is adorable.  I’m running through the fields.  Were I far enough ahead of her, I’d lose her in it.  It’s high enough now to hide.  But I can’t stop.  She’s too close, and the distance is getting slimmer.  This might be bad.
“When I get you, you’re gonna be sorry!”
Perhaps.  I have her book in my hand.  It’s her favorite.  Not my fault that the girl was reading it while I was talking.  It was something really cool!  Not every day you see a traveling show!  But she just couldn’t tear herself away.  She reads that book all the time!  It could wait.  Said she was listening.  I tested that.  She failed.  So I decided to make sure I had her attention.
Just then, my feet contacted something.  It was a rock.  What was a rock doing out here in the field?!  This was bad.  I was falling, very quickly.  However, there was a bright side.  Turns out, she had been right behind me.  So she was caught up in my falling.  As I went down, she was right behind me.  I landed on my stomach, with the book still in my hand.  She was on her side.  In a flash, she was up and on me.  Her hand grabbed her book, and the two of us rolled around, neither wanting to let go.
“Give me my book!”
“No!  You’ll just go back to ignoring me!”
“You were being boring!  Not my fault if the book is more interesting!”
We grappled through the field, until neither of us could move.  Both of us were breathing hard, still holding on to the book.  I was now the one on top, smirking down on her.  That’s when things got ugly.  She threw dirt on my face.  It  got in my eyes.  Hurt really bad.  I fell back, crying out in pain.
“Well next time, give me my book back!”  The girl took off running, while I sat there, crying.

It was later that evening.  I had gone home and was in my room for the rest of the day.  That night, I was sitting on my bed, still hurt and eyes all puffy.  That’s when I heard something hitting my window.  It was a soft sound.  I got up and walked over to see what it was.  When I look down, I see her there.  She’s shuffling her feet and looking at the ground.
“What do you want?!” I call out, as softly as I can, so as not to wake up the parents.
“Can I come up?”
“No!  Go home, jerk!”
She looks up, and I can see a pained look on her face.  “Please?  Just for a minute?”
I don’t want to let her in, but there’s this little voice that says that it is the right thing to do.
“Fine, but I don’t want you here long.”
The girl climbs up the side of the wall.  It has these little pathways for the ivy to grow that make for great hand and footholds.
Coming in, I keep my distance.  Got a book of my own, as a weapon.  Her feet go back to shuffling and she looks down.
“I’m sorry, about today.  I didn’t mean to throw dirt in your face.  I was just so mad about the book, and how you weren’t giving it back.”  Finally, she looks up at me.  “Do you forgive me?”
I don’t like her enough right now for that, but I don’t want to hurt her anymore.
“No.  But I will later.”
A tiny smile comes onto her face.  Her blonde hair is such a golden mess.  She walks over and kisses me on the cheek.
“What was that for?!  I don’t want any of that love-y junk on me!”
She’s already at the window.  “See you tomorrow?”
“No,” I reply.  Still mad at her.  “But maybe the next day.”
She looks bummed, but bounces back.  “Okay.  See you.”  And just like that, she’s gone.

I wonder if she’s still in this town.  Probably not.  The girl wanted to be a machinist.  For as long as I knew her, she was tinkering with things.  Her mom said it wasn’t ladylike, but I always knew that her father liked it.  He always had a little helper for when he was busy with stuff.  Those two were so close.  When he died, she was so torn up.  Way I see it, she must have moved on from this little town years ago.  Perhaps I could find her mom and figure out where she went.  It would mean more travel, and I already got done with a series of train rides, but it was worth it.  To see those who are important to you.  The reason that we live, as an old war-buddy said.  Another girl who I wondered how she is.  I’d get to see her soon.  So far as I knew, she was still here.  The other of a group of friends who went to fight, and only the two of us came back.  Those are the bad memories that are with me.

About an hour later, I’m past the wheat fields, and now there is something new to greet me – the smell of citrus.  The fields of fruit trees in front of me, it’s so beautiful.  Would it be bad if I went and stole one of those fruits?  This close to the harvest, they have to be done.  Didn’t care.  I am going to take it.  Hopping the fence, I walk into the rows of trees.  I hear the workers not too far away.  Reaching up, I grab one of the delicious red fruits.  Hopping back onto the road, I peel the skin off and take a bite.  It’s heaven!  After four years of military rations, I finally had fresh fruit again!  What bliss.  What absolute bliss.  This is better than sex.  Of that, I am certain.  Did I appreciate this enough when I was growing up?  If not, I was going to make up for that by gaining 50 pounds eating the stuff.  Memories of the soup made from this fruit filled me with inexpressible joy.  Or the desserts made with it.  So much eating to catch up on!
This is where I see the big red farmhouse at the top of the hill.  I’d recognize it anywhere.  In a town that you know everyone’s name, you learn all the landmarks.  Growing up, I never lost my way because I always had that giant structure to welcome me home.  When the sun goes down, you go back to your house.  That was the rule.  When the lot of us had been together.  It was hard to resist the urge to take of running.  The sun wasn’t going down, but it was getting pretty late.  Every part of me just wants to take off running and hope that there’s a warm dinner waiting for me.  All those feelings of childhood.  Had it really been so long ago?  Felt like yesterday.
Going past the hill, I see it there.  The white fence of our home.  The fields that my family tended to.  We raised cows and pigs.  I smile when I think about how much shit I’ve ended up shifting out of the barn or the pens during the winter, when the animals can’t roam free.  Looking out on to the vast ocean of green, the cows are all there, chewing or just lounging around.  Such memories.  I remember my little sister and big sister out with the dogs, herding them.  Those girls were born to be farmers.  I would wonder where they are now, but then I hear the sound of horses coming up the field.  Moving quickly, I make behind a tree.  Don’t want them to spoil the surprise for mom and dad.  As I look out, I can tell who is who.  Big sister, broad-shouldered and having a few extra pounds.  Don’t let her looks fool you.  That girl could probably damn-near lift that horse.  The first child, and never far from the old man when work had to be done.  I was the middle kid, so I got away with not being around.  Being the middle child means you get ignored.
Little sister is lithe, small, and has that bubbly smile on her face.  I see her, and I’m in awe.  I leave and she’s this little kid who follows you around like a puppy.  I come back, and she’s damn-near a woman!  I get the feeling that she is fighting boys off with a stick.  Unless she digs the attention.  Don’t like to speak ill of family, but it’s never enough attention for her.  Girl was spoiled silly, growing up.  Thankfully, she liked to do a lot of thinking.  Girl wanted to go into Vernard City and study to become a Counselor.  One day come back and run for Mayor of our town.  That girl was going places.  Not one person who met her didn’t like her.  It was impossible.
The two girls are giving each other shit about their riding, showing off.  The cows look up and I can tell that even they are rolling their eyes.  Once the two speed off, I decide to keep moving.  It’s time to go home and give my parents a heart attack.  This is going to be good.

When I get to the front door, I don’t bother knocking.  Using the “stealthy tactics” I learned in the military, I go inside and put down my duffle bag.  There’s a smell coming from the kitchen, and I know that something amazing is happening.  There is the sound of the old man snoring in his chair.  He’s turning into his mother.  She used to fall asleep in her chair, either reading a book or listening to the radio.  In this case, I hear a metal game on the radio, with our home team up by ten points.  There’s a little pride there, not that I ever cared about metal discus.  One of the channelers in my unit had been a player.  He talked about going back to that, when he got home.  He actually has gotten the chance, since he walked away with all of his faculties intact.
Moving into the kitchen, I hear a couple of voices.  One is clearly my mother.  The other is a young woman.  Who could it be?  They are swapping rhunar pie recipes.  Another thing that sounds pretty great.  I peek in to see a girl with long, flowing blonde hair sitting in the chair.  I can’t tell who it is.  Then there’s my mother.  She’s got her back to me, over the stove.  It’s time!  I move in, not making a sound.  Make sure the uniform is nice and gallant on me.  Now I just wait.  Don’t have to wait long.  She turns around, with a spatula in her hand.  It falls out of her hand.
“Goddess!” she whispers.
The girl looks back, and then I see it.  The face of a girl that I had left behind, so long ago.  My oldest friend.
“Lily?!”  I’m in shock.
There is this beautiful smile that come to her face.  “Welcome home, Luger.”

Until next time, a quote,

“Every parting is a kind of death, as every reunion is a type of heaven.” – Tryon Edwards

Peace out,

Maverick

Lazy Afternoons, Long Gone By

(An old thing I wrote, a long time ago)

I see her there, in that house.  The summer has just begun.  There is three months of freedom ahead of me!  What bliss!  Nothing but time and happiness.  What more could a kid want?  I get to the house, and she’s sitting in the chair, reading a book.  Short shorts and a tee shirt.  Seeing her makes me so happy.  The summer makes me happy too.  I could sit out in that wind for a lifetime.  Indeed, that’s the best thing about summer – the wind.  The wind ties it all together.  Makes it real.  The heat isn’t our favorite thing, but that wind makes everything worthwhile.

Greeting her, I go inside.  She says hi and smiled at me.  That smile, it’s so nice.  For the longest time, I have felt like there is something that I should say to her.  But the words escape me.  Am I too young?  Maybe.  Or maybe it’s just something beyond my grasp.  Still, every time I see her, my heart lights up.  What is this feeling?  Beating so fast.  Where does this emotion come from?  What does all this mean?  I shake my head, putting it out of my mind.  We have a whole summer ahead of us!  I’m not gonna waste a moment of it.

Do adults have these lazy afternoons?  Are they able to enjoy this time, like I do?  I don’t think so.  I don’t think so.  They’re always going to work, and then coming home tired and seemingly unhappy.  I am not looking forward to becoming an adult.  What do they have going on in their lives?  Doesn’t seem like much.  No video games, no books, no nothing.  Just gardening, garage stuff and whatnot.  Geez, is that fun?

So many great plans.  Swimming in my uncle’s pool.  Hanging and talking on the trampoline.  Going out to our secret fort and spending time.  This is the life!  Though part of me always wondered what it’s like to be some small town kid.  I live out in the middle of nowhere.  Nothing but poor people, out here.  Everywhere you look, poor people, in the shabbiest houses.  It’s pretty bad.  Is that also what adulthood is like?  I can’t even imagine.

My best friend will be around too.  Him and I don’t get to see enough of each other.  We can hang out in our secret room in the basement, where we can make our perfect utopia and muse about whatever is on our minds.  He is the brother I never had.  The sibling I always wanted.  She’ll hang with us too.  That’s good.  The three of us are inseparable.  I hope that I never have to leave where they are.  The three of us can do stuff forever.  We can see movies and play games and hang out.  That’s all I really want.  Sure, I want to write and stuff, but that’s just work.  All I really needs is him and her.

If I had more guts, I’d talk to her.  Maybe try and tell her about these weird feelings I have inside me.  It seems so good.  Like, every time we’re in a room together, the world looks so much better.  Then there are the later times.  We will hang out late in the day, sitting in her room and listening to Pure Moods.  She has this trippy glitter lamp that makes the walls all shiny and purple.  I hope to get one of those myself, someday.  Makes me wish I could describe this feeling better.  Like, my heart pounds.  We were at the lake, the other day.  Just talking and swimming and stuff.  We were next to each other, and all I wanted to do was be closer.  She was close to me, and that was enough.  What is that?  Love?  That seems like the right word.  But, it’s weird, right?  We’ve known each other forever.  And…never mind.  I just, if this is what I think it is, I don’t know what I’ll do.  Tell her?  I wish I could.  I really do.

Summer is my favorite time of year.  It gets me to writing this stuff.  You should see my drawer with writing in it.  It’s freaking crazy!  Got so much stuff!  I’m writing this in my “journal.”  Yeah, doesn’t even deserve the name.  I almost never write in this.  Christmas is cool and all, but summer is freedom.  Maybe, someday, if things change between her and I, I’ll be able to tell her.  Until then, I guess that’s what it is.  I think it is love.  I love her.  So weird, saying that out loud.  I love her.  The more I say it, the more it’s real.  Guess I couldn’t stay a little kid forever.

That’s my mission – find a point, before the end of the summer, that I can tell her.  That’s what I’m going to do!  Wish me luck.

(The tragic part is – I never did.  When I finally was able to tell her, the story was been and gone.  That is something I’ll always regret.  It breaks my heart, every time)

Until next time, a quote,

“Well, I doubt we can be together forever. But isn’t that what growing up’s all about? What’s important isn’t how often we see each other, but how often we think about each other. Right?” – Hayner, Kingdom Hearts II.5 ReMIX

Peace out,

Maverick

The Value of Connections: Past, Present, and Future

I recently got home from a meeting with a friend of mine.  Well, I’m not quite sure if friend is the right word.  See, a bunch of shit happened a couple years back, and now I am talking to her again.  I don’t really know where we are, which makes what is coming next even more awkward.  But her and I are still able to hold a conversation for hours on end.  We can still be amicable, just like the old days.  It makes how it all went down between us that much worse.  But I won’t go there.  Been down that road, but the idea was to move forward.

Our conversation today veered into a fact that is both cruel and inevitable – we are going our own ways.  For me,I am heading out of the town I live in.  After losing the apartment I was sharing with my ex, I returned home.  I tried to rekindle my social life and find something worth bonding to here.  However, it was all for naught.  Due to forces beyond my control, I was unable to make time with people.  They all kind of moved on and left me Lonely Roadwondering what happens next.  I am very much the odd-man-out.  I have nothing going for me here, but there is something in the city where I was living in.  So, I mean to return there.

And that’s where the bummer part with this friend came in.  The reality is that when I leave my hometown for the last time, I may never see any of these people again.  And this saddens me, because it marks a turning point in life.

My friend is also there.  She is looking to leave Alaska and pursue grad school.  She wants to accelerate her career.  That’s smart.  Still, she is lamenting the amount of relationships that she will likely lose as a result of this.  It didn’t get said, but I understood that my friendship was almost surely among them.  This is especially depressing, considering that I have just been trying to get it back.  Some people have not gotten why, so I guess I’ll explain.

I believe something.  Something core to myself as a person.  I believe that the relationships that we culminate along the paths of life are the only thing that really matters.  When I die, some people will remember me as that guy with the blog they read.  Though not for long.  I’m just one blog among the vast ocean.  That is something that will fade with time.  I’m not going to be memorialized in some great museum of writing.  I know that I’m not Hemingway.  So what will be remembered of me?  What legacy will we leave behind, if only for a lifetime?

It is my belief that it will be the people whose lives I touch.  There was this great descriptive term in the REALLY pretentious film Meet Joe Black, where a Jamaican woman described how she remembered her long life, when she is talking to Joe about going with her into Death.  She described it as ‘ If we lucky, maybe, we got some nice pictures to take with us.’  That’s a nice way to put it.  I have some absolutely amazing pictures in my life.  I may be depressing and suffer from depression, but I’m not so fargone that I don’t have pictures in my life that are beautiful.

LakeThere are the summer days that I spent on the lake, with the first girl I ever loved.  We swam, laughed, laid out in the sun, letting it dry us.  There were the nights that my first friend and I talked about the country we would make and how the people would live there.  There are the days that I was talking to my grandma in the summer.  Summer.  Some of the summers that I have as a kid, so beautiful.  The wind, the trees, the smell of the air.  There is my first kiss.  It was so anticlimactic.  It came out of nowhere.  She looked so sad.  We had been talking about serious stuff.  It got heavy.  There was the Periodicals Room, with a girl who still means everything to us, even after how some things happened.  Holding her as she cried, trying to hold it all together.  She’s so strong.  She refuses to let herself show weakness, so when she trusted us to let us see that, it was amazing.  I remember the butterflies in my stomach afterwards.  It was amazing.  I remember rescuing a friend who had been abandoned at the bar by her friends.  The way she ran into my arms when I showed up.  I felt like a knight in armor, holding a bloody sword, with a field of fallen foes behind me.

These are my nice pictures.  Now the question becomes – have I put any nice pictures into the heads of anybody else?  Have I given anyone else something to fondly keep with them, when I am no longer around?  What about her?  Have I given her any nice pictures, if we do end up parting for good?  The pictures that we leave each other are the things that truly matter.  It’s easy to say that you have lead a full life, but the truth is – you have only lead that life when you have left memories in those who matter to you.  It can’t just be you.  A full life will undoubtedly affect other people.

So what does that mean in respect to me and my efforts to rekindle a friendship that may last for just another month?  It means that I am going to keep going.  Even if it all does amount to jack-diddle, I want to get a few more pictures.  I want to leave her with a few more pictures.  Things got so ugly before.  This is a chance to let things go on a note of happiness.  Isn’t that what any decent person would want to do?  I will miss her, if our time together ends in January.  It will hurt, knowing that this is it, and we will never get another chance.  But I have pictures in my head, and I will keep those pictures with me.  I hope she will too.

What pictures have you left behind?  What pictures do you keep with you?  Feel free to let me know in the comments section.

Until next time, a quote,

I don’t think you can analyze love. It’s the greatest mystery of all. No one knows why it happens, or doesn’t. Love is a chance combination of elements. Any one thing might be enough to keep it from igniting – a mood, a glance… a remark. And if we could define love, predict it – it would probably lose its power.” -Neelix, Star Trek: Voyager

Peace out,

Maverick