Lee checked his watch, like he always did, and stepped over the welcome mat. He was home. It wasn't a particularly impressive home, with its threadbare red carpets and grimy, unwashed windows, but it was his own home. He'd owned his own place for about three years, and wasn't exactly inclined to go back to his parents spare room. There were enough withering looks passed around during the holidays they bothered to visit for, thank you very much.
Mom was disappointed in his college days. His engineering plans had fallen through when he didn't make it to the college. He'd tried his best, but the environment was just too hostile. He'd had to sell the rest of the coins just to stay afloat from the student loans. Dad was cross because Grandad's coins had gone with them, but Grandad would have wanted him to be safe, rather than in jail with some shiny Polish change. Well, Grandad had been through a lot to get the coins too… but no, he would've agreed.
The job he'd gotten was paying his bills. He'd been entering data at the bank for about three years now, and it paid most of the bills. Mortgage and Water were the main two. Sometimes electric or gas had to go by the wayside. The job was still better than nothing. Plus, it let him spend some time out of the house, which was always better than being alone.
Mail was tossed on the counter and temporarily forgotten, as Lee couched over his fridge. It was mostly empty, but there was still one soda left. Mail continued to wait, watching as he set himself up with a glass and two iced cubes. Lee pulled up a wicker chair, and began to flick through the envelopes. There was a couple bills for the cable and from Bell, some junk mail asking him if he was a bad enough dude to learn karate, and something else.
The sorting went on for a minute or so, as Lee rechecked his envelopes to make sure they were really for him, and opening the ones which required to be open, and as one can imagine he found this to be quite tedious. The chair legs scuffed the tiles as he stood up to go, which is what he would've done had he not spotted a red envelope sticking underneath the rest of his mail stack.
It wasn't a fancy envelope, with just paper, his address, and no return address. Lee wasn't a suspicious man, but this letter still ticked off some alarms in his mind. He shook it, poked it, prodded it, dropped it, and a variety of other trials to determine any malicious content. The letter remained inert. With the letter's mundanity satisfied, he opened it, slowly tearing from one corner to another. Reaching inside, there wasn't any paper. Just a polaroid.
Just? Lee squinted at it. He was sure it couldn't have been a picture of him. How could it be? There wasn't anything left from those days. He blinked, rubbed his eyes, then looked again. The picture refused to change, and faced him indifferently. It was him, Cindy, and Andy. They were grinning stupidly at someone who was taking the picture. Lee blinked, and the wicker chair creaked as he sat down again.
This was from the trip Lee had taken with Rusty and the others in '76. It hadn't been a particularly exciting trip, and the hubbub of almost college had entered his mind almost directly after they'd gotten home. Kirk Lonwood High had been one of the last times he'd been happy. The familiar tendrils of nostalgia began to creep over his shoulders as he stared.
You should've stayed home with them.
Lee shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts, and not succeeding. The photo slipped out of his fingers, fluttered down onto the counter. Lee closed his eyes giving himself rationalizations and condolences. He was okay. There was a good purpose for him here, and he was living his own life. Going back would've been a dumb thing to do now, with all the time that's passed. When he opened his eyes, he saw a message scrawled on the back of the letter.
We've had a great year, haven't we? Hope to see you again soon!
~Love, Cindy XOXOXOX
Sleep didn't come to Lee easily that night. Images of photographs, red, his friends driving, listening to the radio, and everything else from the summer came flooding back to him. Touching his lips, where Cindy had kissed him, he pursed them together and thought about his life now. Dwelling in the past would get him nowhere. The photo would be off his nightstand and in the bin by tomorrow.
…we're hitting up the amusement park later today, if Rusty and Andy can get the driver/navigator mechanic going. Honestly, it seems like they each have their own ideas of how we should get there. I'd volunteer, but that'd probably just cause more drama…
The blaring of an alarm yanked Lee from his sleep, and he spasmed with a start. Rise from bed, eat two scoops of cereal, no milk, shave after combing hair, get dressed with shoes, pants, shirt, go to the mirror to button the coat, then undo it and button the right way, then out the door. The whole day was uneventful, except for the niggling little gremlins in his mind that had been awakened from the photo. As boredom wafted in, he tried to think about where the trip had taken him. Did it really matter?
The picture was still there. The bin was there, so it could be dealt with for good. It was probably just from some ass who hated him back home. Maybe he should keep it then, in case more photos come in. Just in case. The photograph ended up tucked within a jacket pocket.
That whole year was a blur… the summer was what had counted. Everything that had happened, then and now, came from that trip. Building up a whole year for one last summer, then pissing his life away afterwards. But the summer had been a golden moment between them, where nothing mattered and you could do what you want. A great end to a year of buildup. Instinctively, he reached his hand into the jacket pocket to touch the photo. Still there.
Sleep came easier that night, with the painful memories of the day before replaced with the more palatable memories of nostalgia. All the good times at school, even before the trip. Band had been fun. That's where he'd met Cindy. They'd been partners for band stuff, and he'd helped her with… . Lee frowned, and glanced back at the photo. Where had Cindy met him?
…omething about the damned money was the last I heard." She smiled at him, and he returned the gesture. The school was in some tough times, but it gave him an excuse to talk to her. Speculate on whether or not the place downtown could supply-
Lee bolted up, grabbing at everything around him as he scrambled out of bed. Hearing a buzz, his hands instinctively went to cover his ears, and teeth bit tongue. How could he have forgotten Syncope? Why should he remember it? He fell back onto his bed, clutching his throbbing skull. They'd been… something at Lonwood. Wincing, he felt blood stream down from his nose, pooling in his lips.
There was something about Syncope. Remember. They would remember you. Pieces flooded his consciousness. There was a school he couldn't leave… his bandmates at the game… and Syncope. They'd been a group at the school, they were there from town… no, that was wrong. Lee wiped the blood and looked back to his nightstand, to the photo. It looked the same. The buzzing grew louder.
Lee could hear it.
Very sorry. Know you're unhappy here, and apologize for the times done to. Frustration and fear, and are willing to work with if only take the time to see the overall composure. Know that many of have been hurt or set to tower for the goal, but were only for the beat, have to make some practices to bring it to the full potential. Not a place, like some of have said over this time. Don't have people with, working to make the beauty for or otherwise. All want to accomplish is making the orchestra of life. All of have been playing roles, as single notes in grand symphony.
Please, rise for the overture.