|A/N: This is a very rough draft of a story I am currently working on. I am open to any constructive cristism, so please read and review.It is about Charlie Turner, who dreams of being someone great but is held back by his dyslexia-like symptoms and comprehesion. During the summer, he meets a girl, Ruth, who will change everything he thinks and together they face the fear of growing up and becoming adults.
Ruth fingers the shallow crevices of the rough tree bark. The tree is old and twisted, its russet branches stretched towards the heart of the gray sky. She remembers a time when they were curved for shade and had birthed millions of tiny pink blossoms. Now there remain only a few dried flowers, blowing meekly in the chilly early-autumn breeze. Even over time and facing all harshest weather, this tree has always produced flowers that hang on to its branchy roots the longest, defying the oncoming winter. She smiles as she notices the few that are still there, clinging to life. Suddenly, a powerful gust of wind blows through the park, and a flower gives up and floats to the ground, resting humbly at the foot of the tiny gravestone that sits under the massive tree. It reads:
HERE LIES CHARLES W. TURNER,
A FRIEND, ARTIST, DREAMER.
It was so brief, so small, and Ruth can barely see how so few words could ever describe the person it is referring to. She sighs briefly and closes her eyes. Charlie. Yes, Charlie. Had it only been twelve years ago that he died? For a brief moment grief envelops her heart, but she quickly dismisses it and sits down besides the aging tree. This is where they had first met. Under the protection of the comforting arms of the oak, she had been lying in the grass, reading a book. She remembers the day; so clearly, she remembers everything like it had been yesterday . . .
Chad made his way through the crowd of students, trying to get to the front of the school.
“Ruth,” he called, “Hey, wait up!”
Ruth, hearing her name, turned around and waltzed over to Chad. “Hey you, I though you left already, to practice or something,” she said, charming him with a smile and teasing her golden blonde hair. “I didn’t see you after class so I was going to walk home with Linda.”
Chad reached for her hand gently, and both of them started to walk toward the exit of the building, fingers entwined together.
“I told you I was going to drive you home Ruth, remember? I was just a little late because I had to talk to Mr. Perry about my final grade.”
She nodded and hugged him closer. “Alright. But can we stop at the library? I need to get a couple of books.”
“For an assignment?”
“No, I just like reading.”
He chuckled. “God, you and your books. I don’t understand why you’re so interested in that stuff. So boring.”
Ruth just flipped her hair and ignored him, leading the way to the 1956 Ford Thunderbird parked outside the school, its red paint shining brightly in the June sun. She hopped into the passenger seat and clapped her hands together excitedly.
“I can’t believe summer break starts in two days! Aren’t you excited? We are going to have so much fun together! Romantic nights at the beach, ice cream at Eddie’s Diner, parties, music…and I’ll make you listen to my poetry…”
Chad, having made his way to the driver’s side, shut the door and sighed. He shook his head in some unexplained disbelief.
“What’s the matter with you, Chad?”
Chad turned to look at her sea-green eyes as he sighed again. “Did I forget to tell you? I’m not going to be here for the summer! I’m leaving with my family to go on vacation in Florida to visit my uncle! I’m leaving tomorrow!”
Ruth slumped in her seat and frowned.
“Well goodness, thanks for waiting so long to tell me! Getting my hopes up. How could you wait to tell me until now?”
“I didn’t think about it until you mentioned it! I’m so sorry baby!”
He leaned over and kissed her softly on her rosy cheek. “I’ll make it up to you when I get back, Ruthie. I promise. I’ll bring home presents and I’ll be yours for the rest of the year!”
Ruth turned to face him and faked a sad expression. “Okay, okay. But promise you won’t go off with any other of those girls at the beach, or you won’t be seeing another day of me, Chad Walter Spencer!”
He laughed and nodded. “I promise,” he said, giving her another kiss. “But that means you can’t be off with any body either, promise?”
“Yes, I promise.”
“Good then. Now let’s get going.”
That night was bittersweet. Ruth and Chad sat by the lake in Greenbury Park in front of the school, saying their goodbyes before the dying sun. She hugged him close and whispered that she would miss him so much; summer would be so incredibly boring without him, there was nothing to do around there. But he comforted her by stroking her glossy hair, and she felt protected by his strong arms. Looking into his eyes she noticed for the first time how different they looked. As the color of strong bitter tea, they seemed to glow with some unearthly copper, containing some kind of emotion she could not figure. It startled her, and she felt uneasy. But he disrupted her thoughts.
“Ready to go? It’s getting dark.”
She nodded silently and they quietly drove home, not saying a word. The only sound present was Elvis emitting energetically from the car radio, filling up the empty words, springing loudly into the still night air. When they arrived at Ruth’s, he stopped the car and walked her to the door. Together they shared a tender embrace.
“See ya, Ruthie. Have a great summer. Try not to think of me too much.”
He smiled and strode over to the car, waving goodbye.
“Bye! I’ll miss you,” she sulkily cried after him, her eyes glistening.
Chad blew her one last kiss and she watched as he drove off into the sticky night.
The beginning of vacation was pleasant enough, even without Chad around. Ruth spent her time with friends, at parties, or working at her summer job in The Ice Cream Shop. One day, she thought it would be nice to take it easy, slow down, enjoy the beauty of summer. So she decided to walk over to Greenbury Park, to read. She sat on the park bench, allowing the soft breeze to ruffle her curls and caress her skin, and relaxed in the world of literature, escaping.
Her focus was shattered, however, when a grunt startled her. Looking up from her book, she tried to find the source of the noise, but found none. Then it happened again. The sound was coming from a boy, across from the bench, under a gnarled flowering tree. She watched as the boy ferociously scribbled on paper, his knuckles white and his face twisted in frustration. Curiosity got the better of her, and she could not help staring. The boy was taller than her, she could tell, even in sitting position, and his hair fell slight of his forehead, honey-brown, like the very color of the tree branches that shaded him.
A minute passed and it seemed to Ruth that the boy was not successful with his desperate attempts of whatever he was trying to do. In a final and furious act, he crumpled the paper into a ball and hurled it into nowhere, and then stomped out of the park, fuming. Ruth watched as the paper ball rolled gingerly near her feet, and she picked it up. It was none of her business, she thought, but she unfolded the ball anyway.
The paper was horribly tortured, with wrinkles and holes and ink blots bleeding through it. She could hardly read the few words that were written, and many were crossed out or just undecipherable. After ignoring all the obvious mistakes and piecing together the broken sentences and incorrect words, she finally decided that it was supposed to be a letter. It read somewhat like this:
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you or talked to you. How are you? Everyone here is all right and I am doing better in school. I’m reading books better now, and my art teacher says that my art is good. I might be able to graduate and go to art school if I try really hard. Pop is sad all the time. I don’t know why but he never comes out of the house anymore. There’s not much else to say…
The rest of the letter was not there, and he obviously never finished it. Ruth sighed and strode over to the tree the boy was sitting at. There was a pen buried in the long grass and flowers, as well as a book. Picking it up, she read the cover. It was Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. The boy must have forgotten it. She looked around in hopes of finding him, but he was nowhere in sight. Tucking the book under her arm, she started home. She would find the boy tomorrow and give it back to him.
The next day, Ruth waited on the park bench to see if the boy would come back. He did. He came back to the same tree and looked around, puzzled. She got up and advanced towards him.
“Excuse me,” she said, tapping the boy on the shoulder, “Are you looking for this?”
He turned to face her. Seeing the book in her outstretched hand, his features immediately brightened.
“Yeah, thanks,” he replied, taking the book.
Ruth smiled and smoothed her dress. “I found it yesterday under this tree, after you left. I thought you might want it back.”
The boy nodded in appreciation and held out his hand.
They shook hands and Ruth continued. “So, you’re reading Alice in Wonderland,” she said, trying to stir up a conversation. “It’s one of my favorites. Did you get to the part where she sees that cat? Or the rabbit? Where are you?”
Charlie shifted his gaze to the ground and mumbled something.
“Well, I don’t really know where I’m at, I don’t really get it.”
Ruth paused for a moment. “What do you mean you don’t get it? The symbolism? The meaning?”
“No, it’s nothing like that.” His voice was low and he looked shamed, as if he did something wrong. “I can’t understand the words.”
Charlie sat down and sighed, and looked up at Ruth. “I have a hard time reading. It doesn’t make sense to me,” he muttered, obviously upset. Ruth thought. Charlie looked so sad and lonely. Maybe she could read to him, help him out a bit. Besides, she had nothing else to do.
“Well, what if I read for you,” she offered, “So you can hear the story?”
Charlie gave her a surprised look. “But what if I don’t get what’s going on?”
“Then I’ll explain it best I can.”
“Are you sure? You don’t have anything else better to do?”
“No. I’m sure.”
So he made room for her, and she settled herself under the tree, her back against the knotty bark and his stomach situated among the flowers and grass, lying before her. Ruth began. “Alice in Wonderland,” she began, clearing her throat, “Chapter One.”
And while she read he listened, his eyes enthusiastic and yearning for knowledge, bright blue and beautiful in the sun. He looked as innocent as a small child, his face propped up by his hands, his mouth slightly open as if some wonder and amazement had befallen him. When she read it the story became alive and magical, and his head tried to follow as best he could. Sometimes she read too fast, and he would tell her to slow down. He wanted to be able to read it, to understand, to live in it, the moment, the story, fall down the very rabbit hole that Alice had herself.
Ruth read for hours, page after page, chapter after chapter, and Charlie lay there, drinking everything in, eyes full with imagination and inspiration. They hardly noticed the time until the sun started to sink and the warm colors of day melted into a buzz of crickets and shadowy dusk, and Ruth could no longer read the words before her. They agreed to meet again the next day, to continue reading. Charlie left with the book in his hands, disappearing into the darkening town.
Ruth stood there, under that tree, yawning and stretching. She couldn’t believe it. She had spent the entire day with someone she had just only met. But it meant something. To him. And she could tell by the appreciation in his eyes when he said goodbye. Charlie was someone no one wanted to spend the time with, she figured, no one wanted to do something about his desire to learn. They probably thought that it would take too much time, and in the end it wouldn’t make a difference anyway. That day was special, something happened that made her feel better. Charlie had cherished and admired her for her love of books and stories, although he was held back in some degree by his comprehension. No one had ever done that before.
For weeks after they met, Ruth and Charlie read everyday. One morning, when Ruth made her way to the tree at the park, she noticed that he wasn’t there. Disappointment settled in and she frowned. But a familiar voice relived her.
“Ruth! Over here,” Charlie called from the top of the hill leading to the lake below, “I’m by the lake!”
She turned and ran down the shallow hill to where the lake lay in the boiling summer heat, still and silvery in its character. Charlie was already at the bottom, waving to her, beckoning her to come. “Hey, Charlie,” she said, smiling, “What are you up to?”
Charlie grinned and took her by the hand. “I want to show you something.”
He led her to the tiny, broken down dock on the east side of the water. Ruth was puzzled. “What are you doing? Where are we going?”
When they got to the dock, Ruth noticed brushes and paint bottles dotted the surface. Charlie stopped and picked up something lying on the dock. “I painted this. Of the lake, of course. How do you like it?”
Ruth stepped back, astonished. The painting was beautiful. The colors were soft and pastel, the reflections so real she wanted to touch it to make sure it wasn’t just a dream frozen on canvas.
“Charlie…” she whispered, breathless. “It’s wonderful. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my entire life.”
Charlie grinned sheepishly.
“I woke up at dawn and was painting all morning. I hoped you would like it.”
His voice was excited and enthusiastic, rimmed with joy. “I want you to have it,” he said, holding it out to her. Ruth snapped back to reality.
“Have it? Oh, no, I couldn’t. You should sell it. You are an amazing artist. You are very talented.”
“No, I made it for you. Kind of a thank you, I guess. For reading to me, being there, you know.”
She sighed and took the painting from his hands, marveling at the craftsmanship. “That is so sweet of you, Charlie, I’ll always keep this.”
Charlie looked pleased.
As they started to walk back up the hill, Ruth wondered about school. “Charlie, what kind of college are you thinking of going to? After graduation, I mean.”
Charlie was quiet and stuffed his hands deep into his pockets, thinking of something to say. Since he couldn’t think of anything, Ruth continued.
“Well, why don’t you think of going to an art school? Like Pratt? That’s in Brooklyn you know. I think you might have a fine shot at a scholarship, if you keep up the kind of work you showed me.”
Charlie looked up. “I have tons of artwork,” he said, the hope in his eyes glistening, “I’ve been drawing since I was little. I love doing it.” And then, after a silent pause: “Do you think I have a chance at all? I mean, I’ve failed all the written tests and exams, all the questions. I just don’t understand the material, the things they ask. Its like my mind can’t hold any information. I wouldn’t even know how to get into college.”
There was a morose tone to his voice, grasping at his very spirit. Ruth didn’t know what to say.
Once they made it up the hill, back under the tree, Ruth noticed that Charlie was staring off at the children playing in the park. They were tossing a ball, and tackling one another, their screams of laughter erupting into the air, adding to the sounds of summertime frolic.
“What’s the matter, Charlie?”
He looked at her, his big eyes full of longing. “I just wish I could play sports again,” he said, sighing.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, a couple of years ago, I got into a car accident, and I could have died. I didn’t, but I had injured my lungs and heart pretty bad, and the doctor told me I couldn’t go off and run and horse around and stuff. Because I could pass out, or die of a heart attack or something like that.”
His voice was far-off, like he was talking to no one, his words carried off into the breeze. “That was my only chance to go to college, football. I was pretty good.” He chuckled to himself, slightly, then stopped suddenly, pulling his lower lip in and biting down. Ruth watched him, his face all twisted like the first day she had noticed him under the tree. Her heart went out to him.
“God, Charlie, I’m so sorry…”
“No, no, it’s alright.”
They both turned to watch the children playing, whose faces were simple and pure, who had not a care in the world, no future to worry about yet, nothing to think about except how to win the game and when dinner would be. For a moment all they did was listen to their giggles and shrieks, while they sat and watched.
“My father was so disappointed,” Charlie said, suddenly, keeping his eyes fixated on the game. “He knew all I had was sports. There was no way to hide the shame after the accident. He just stopped talking to me.”
Ruth turned to look at him. She could tell he tried to maintain a straight face, as he avoided her gaze altogether. Being daring, she asked where his mother was.
He paused for a moment, and then answered.
“She’s in the hospital. But not here. Far from here. She was in the car with me, the accident.” Charlie twiddled a blade of grass between his fingers, trying to distract himself from everything.
“That makes sense of the letter, then,” Ruth said to herself, but he heard. He abruptly turned to face her, eyes squinted in accusation.
“You read that? The letter I threw out?”
Ruth turned red and nervously darted her eyes. “Well, you kind of threw it at me. I picked it up.”
Charlie sighed and bowed his head. “I guess you know what I’m talking about then,” he mumbled softly, “I bet you couldn’t even read it. I’m just stupid.”
“No you’re not. Hey, Charlie, you’re not stupid. You’re not stupid at all.”
But Charlie looked away.
“Sure,” he said, “Sure.”
That night Ruth lay awake, tormented of thoughts of her future. She had her own problems and fears; she was terrified to think of leaving the only home she knew and everyone in it behind. It seemed every one had their life set for them. Chad had universities lined up to interview him, for a full football scholarship. His life was all ready planned for him. All her friends had decided which school they wanted to go to, and they were determined to get there. She was just trying to get through high school as best she could, not sure of anything.
Charlie was in the same boat as she was. They both were terrified of growing up, facing life. She wished the summer would last forever, so this way they could throw away the worries and panic, live in peaceful nights and sunny days. Summer was a mysterious reality, a period of carefree and happy thoughts, full of cotton candy and sunshine, but it lingered on the edge of the fact that school and routine were always creeping up from the front, every day passed was a day closer to September. She knew she couldn’t hold on to it forever. Charlie only helped her forget about it sometimes. He made her think, or not think. When school started again, she would miss their daily conversations by the tree, fishing by the lake, filling their heads with wonderful stories of rabbits and queens and pirates and treasure. Turning over in bed, Ruth smiled. She would be seeing Charlie tomorrow, no worries.
Summer days passed rather quickly, however, and before long, it was over. She sat next to Charlie, under the tree, watching the sun set on the last day of break, resting her head on his shoulder.
“Can you believe that summer’s really over?”
Charlie sighed and gazed out onto the rippling lake. “No, it went so fast,” he said, “I wonder what’s going to happen after today.”
Ruth closed her eyes. “Well, we can still see each other, after school, and I can still read to you and stuff if you want.”
“I’d like that.”
“Yea, me too.”
Then, a loud, authoritative voice echoed through the park. It was Chad.
“Ruthie,” he cried, running out to her, “I’m back Ruth!”
“Oh my God, Chad’s back,” she exclaimed, getting up to meet him.
They hugged and she kissed him. “Wow, I forgot you were coming back tonight!”
“Yea, I came back early. I needed to see you sooner!”
Ruth stepped back. Chad looked good. He was tan and his eyes shone even brighter than ever before.
“Oh, Chad, I want you to meet somebody,” she said, taking his hand and leading him to the tree.
“Chad, this is my friend Charlie,” she bumbled excitedly, “And Charlie this is Chad, I’m with him.”
They shook hands and glanced at each other strangely.
“Hey,” Chad said, “Weren’t you on the football team a while back?”
Charlie nodded. “Yea, for a year, but then I quit.”
“Oh that’s right, I remember. Nice meeting you again.”
Ruth smiled and clung to Chad’s arm. “I’m so glad you two have met. Charlie and I here, we had a great summer together.”
Chad coughed a bit and looked at his watch. “Right. Hey Ruth, we better get going, or we’ll miss the movie. The tickets were sold out, but I already bought some for us.”
Ruth looked upset. “But what about Charlie,” she asked, “What’s he going to do?”
Charlie shook his head. “Don’t worry about me, Ruth, I’ll be fine. You haven’t seen Chad in a while. I bet you have a lot of catching up to do.”
“It’s ok, really.”
She smiled and broke free of Chad to give him a hug. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Charlie,” she whispered in his ear.
And with that, Chad and Ruth took off, leaving Charlie in the dark.
For Ruth, the days after school were spent with Charlie, reading to him books of art and of art schools and such. Fall was setting in, and the blossoms on the tree were bloomed and falling fast, as of course, were the leaves. Ruth felt bad for leaving Charlie alone that single night, and wanted to be with him at all times. When something made her cry, she went to Charlie. When she wanted someone to listen to her read, or listen to poetry, to understand her, she went to Charlie. A month passed like this, until, however, Chad began to notice.
“Hey Ruthie,” he asked her one day, “What is going on with that Charlie guy? You never have time with me anymore. You’re always out reading to him, or whatever you two do.”
Ruth sighed. “It’s nothing big, you know. We just enjoy each other’s company.”
“Well, I’m feeling kind of left out,” he mumbled, frowning.
“Well, come and listen to me read, then,” she suggested. Chad made a face and turned red.
“I don’t want to spend my time doing that. I want you to be here with me.”
“Chad! Leave me alone. He understands me, he listens to me. You just tote me around.”
Instantly, his eyes turned black with anger and his mouth became a thin, pressed line. “What are you saying? I don’t understand you? And he does?”
Ruth crossed her arms and started to walk away.
“Hey,” Chad boomed, running after her, “I think I listen to you. What does he know? He is just some stupid freak. I hear he’s dumber than me, can’t even write a proper paragraph.”
Ruth slowly turned to face him. “Don’t you ever say that about him, that’s not true.”
But Chad ignored her. “Is that why you read to him? Because he can’t do it himself?”
“Shut up, Chad. You’re being a real creep.”
“C’mon, Ruthie. If you’d pity me, would you come and read to me? Be my friend?”
Ruth fought back the tears, and Chad grabbed her. “Let’s be serious,” he said, a little softer now, “Do you really like him or are you just succumbing to the whims of a charity case?”
She fought him off. “Get off me, Chad, you creep. Get away from me!”
Ruth, crying, ran into the park, hoping to find a place of peace.
She sat at the edge of the dock by the lake, all alone, watching the water slowly lap the wooden edges. Maybe Chad was right. What was she doing? She needed to get her mind out of summer and think about the future, her future. She needed to focus on school and getting the most out of her education. It was senior year. Time was running out.
A tap on her shoulder startled her, scattering her thoughts.
It was Charlie.
“Hi,” she said, turning slightly to face him. He just stood there, hands delved deep inside his jacket pockets, his face grim and as gray as the sky above him.
Finally he spoke. “I heard what Chad said. I heard everything.”
Ruth tried to look for a place to hide, to get away from him, and guilt crept up inside of her.
“So is it true? Am I just a joke or something?”
She just looked away, refocusing on the water. “Of course not, Charlie, of course not. It’s just that I need to start thinking ahead, you know, like what we were talking about before, about colleges and things. Remember?”
His head dropped and hooked his eyes to the dock’s surface. “Yea, I do,” he muttered, “I’m just afraid I’ll never see you again if you leave.”
“You don’t need me, Charlie.”
His head snapped up and he bent down to turn her to face him.
“But Ruth, I do. Don’t you see? When I’m with you, I feel better. When you read I feel like I know what’s going on for the first time. I feel special. You’re smart, and I’m afraid. I’m afraid that you’ll leave to college and I’ll be too slow and be left behind, with no one who cares. No one does but you.” His tone was urgent, pleading, eyes begging for condolence.
“That’s not true, Charlie. There are other people who care!”
Charlie shook his head, and his voice became cracked. “But there aren’t. Don’t you get it? I’m the slow one, I’ve always been. You don’t know what its like to be called stupid all the time, laughed at, stupid! By your own family and everyone else. I hate it,” he cried, “I hate it so much. And I’m tired. So tired. What’s the point of living if you’re living like that?”
He was trembling now, face white and lower lip pulled in, his mouth biting down, holding her, shaking her. But she pulled back.
“What are you talking about Charlie? Stop feeling sorry for yourself! The only reason people may think that way is because you think that’s what you are! I know you’re not stupid or dumb at all, but you are proving me wrong by acting you are. Get a hold of yourself. You’re not worthless. Alright?”
Charlie blinked back tears and hesitated.
With that she embraced him, and together their breath formed icy mist in the chilly air, and she whispered in his ear. “You are special, Charles. You will do great things. You will be an artist or whatever you want to be. You are you.”
He laughed and broke free of her hug. Wiping the tears from his eye, he smiled at her sincerely. That was a thank you enough.
For a moment they sat there on that dock, staring into each other’s misty eyes, wondering what they were to do next. And in a quiet and utterly sweet moment, they joined lips and kissed, their frostbitten lips warmed by the love that had taken place. Nothing was around them; all the bad faded away and only happiness blossomed through the autumn air.
They parted and laughed, something quite abnormal to do after such a moment, but then, it was just their way, and it didn’t matter.
But someone was watching, from the hill, above. He ran down, and rammed himself into Charlie.
“Get away from her,” he yelled; kicking him, “Who do you think you are?”
It was Chad, in a rage of jealousy. Ruth, anxious, pulled him away. “Chad! What are you doing? Leave him alone!”
But he didn’t stop. “You’re a real freak, you know that,” he cried at struggling Charlie, “You stupid idiot. You’re never going to mean anything to anyone!”
Chad grabbed Ruth’s arm and forced her up. “Let’s go,” he growled, pushing her toward the land. Charlie got up and pushed Chad away. “She doesn’t want you,” he said, “Stay away.”
Fury raged through Chad’s veins. He tried to hit Charlie, but he was too slow. Ruth called his name, told him to run, but he didn’t. Being twice the size of Charlie in build, Chad was at an advantage. Before long, he had Charlie down and kicked him over and over.
Ruth yelled. “Stop it, Chad! You’re going to kill him!” But no one heard her. The only way Charlie could help himself would be to run.
And he did just that.
He somehow scrambled to the land, crawling out of Chad’s wrath, and picked himself up. He started to run. His head pounded, and his chest fluttered. He ran faster, heart hammering ferociously, breath coming rapid and heavy. The stress was building up. He was free. Nothing could describe it. Nothing had been so beautiful and so true, the wind biting his face, his legs shaking in exhaustion. But he found himself stopped, and Chad caught up, and shook him, shook him till his teeth rattled. And the lights were all dim and the frosty colors melted and under the tree he slumped down, as the last flower reached the ground. The heart had stopped.
Chad stared down in disbelief and shock, and stepped shakily away from Charlie. Ruth ran up from behind him. “Oh my God, Chad! What did you do? What did you do?”
She brushed past him and knelt down next to Charlie, underneath the tree. Chad just stood there, shaking his head, trying to believe that it wasn’t real. He hadn’t meant to kill him.
The wind blew fiercer than any other that day, and sent all the blossoms and leaves on all the trees spiraling to the bare ground.
The funeral was quick, but solemn, and Ruth didn’t understand any of it. It happened so fast, the summer, the life, the death. And now she stood, placing a flower on his coffin, saying goodbye. She wasn’t mad at Chad or herself or anyone; it was no one’s fault. But the memory of him lingered in the very air she breathed in.
After he was buried, she found that she couldn’t be around the school, or the park, or the lake. So she left town, and didn’t come back for many years, until she was ready to. And by then she was married and had a wonderful job and a promising future. And she smiled at his grave, memories filling her head, remembering the adventures they had.
That summer she moved back, with her husband and daughter, Emily. And everyday she would take her daughter up to the park, and read Alice in Wonderland; under the very tree she had so many years before. No one could take that joy from her. She had learned so much that year of ’56, in such a little time. Charlie lived in her, and she gave all whom she met a special feeling. He had made something of himself after all.