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A Walk Down Memory Lane
It was late fall, almost winter. The air was icy cold and there were no leaves on
any trees. The sky above was very gloomy and looked like it was going to start to
rain any moment. A gust of cool wind blew the strewn leaves about. Everything seemed eerily silent. All anyone could hear was their footsteps crunching the
leaves under foot.
Jane walked down Elmer Avenue with her head down. This street held fond memories for Jane, but at the moment none of them seemed present in her mind.
Jane wore all black, black shoes, black pants, black leather jacket and even her
hair was pulled back with a black ribbon.
As she walked slowly down Elmer Avenue, several kids were happily playing in a pile of leaves in Mrs. Jones’ yard. Jane looked up and smiled. She remembered
that her and her brothers used to always do that every October. 'Leaf wars', her
mother always said. It was always started by Joey throwing a handful of leaves at
her younger brother James, and then Jane would come to her younger brother’s rescue by throwing several handfuls back at Joey. That was over and done with.
That fun activity would never come again to Jane. The memory passed and Jane began again to walk down Elmer Ave.
As she walked, she started to remember what brought her out that day. The event was fragmented in Jane's mind. She remembered the party, driving and lots of
beer, but she couldn't seem to get them all in the right order.
She slowed her already slow walking as she came to every teens’ dungeon, the local high school. Brookview High looked like an ancient castle, with its climbing
vines and gargoyles over-looking the school yard. As soon as she looked upon her former nemesis, a phrase began to repeat over and over in her head, "At least
only one had died." It was what the principal whispered to several of the teachers
at the funeral, trying to keep others from hearing. Jane heard it all right. The
phrase kept repeating over and over in her head.
Jane shook her head and started walking again, towards her destination, down Elmer Avenue. She passed many houses that she knew very well. There was Mr.
and Mrs. Taylor’s place, where she would help Mrs. Taylor every year with her garden. Across the street from their house was Old Widow McKay’s place, it was
very uninviting with a bunch of cats on the old creaky porch. Jane 'accidentally'
broke one of Ms. McKay’s windows while playing baseball and had been sentenced to a summer of chores there. Jane soon became quick friends with Ms.
McKay, and from then on always dropped by every other day or so after school to play cards and drink tea. Jane smiled at that thought, then it quickly turned into a
A couple of black cars came speeding down Elmer Ave. from the direction that Jane was walking towards. The people had such unhappy faces. In the last car she
could see a couple of her friends. There was Mark nursing his throwing arm; he was looking down at his feet. Mark was the High School’s star player on the
football and baseball teams. His arm had earned him a scholarship to a university
out of the area. Then there was Amy, Mark's girlfriend, sitting next to him, just
staring out the window. She had no expression on her face; it was a blank slate.
She looked like she had been crying. As the car passed Jane, you could see a single tear run down her rosy cheek.
Everyone in the cars ignored Jane; they didn't even glance at her. Jane watched as
the cars just passed her, then the horrible event came back to her.
The night of the first dance. Mike, the school clown, had thrown his annual big party at his place. His parents were always out of town on business and thus gave
him the house to trash. Jane, Mark, Amy and Joey always went, no matter what. Mike's parties were legendary; there was always booze and drugs. Jane's gang
always welcomed the booze but never took the drugs. Jane was their driver, so she said she would stay away from them both, but unbeknownst to the rest of the
gang, Jane accepted a couple of drinks from a couple of cute guys. Around 12:30,
everyone piled into Jane’s parent’s red pick-up truck to get a lift back into town.
The road was covered with leaves and with Jane’s drinking, and Jane’s driving, it
made the perfect mixture for an accident.
When the truck turned a sharp corner it tipped over, Mark in the back of the truck
was thrown into a pile of leaves. The last thing Jane remembers before conceding
to the darkness was shattered glass, and the smell of blood.
Jane shed a couple of tears before she started to walk again. As if identifying with
her, the sky let out its own tears, in the form of a soft rain. High above Jane, a
black bird let out a cry. Jane looked up without stopping to see what bird would
be out in the rain. This black bird flew slightly in front of Jane, guiding her towards her destination. Every five minutes or so it would let out a cry, like
scaring away the fears and anything else around him.
Jane walked out of Brookview, and on to the wooded dirt road. The road began to dip downwards. Jane took in the surroundings around her. The wooded areas
around her looked like a barren, wasted land with not a living thing in sight except the black bird circling above
Jane. The dirt road was still Elmer Avenue, but it was a more primitive part of it.
She continued to walk; the road began to rise uphill. On top of the hill lay Jane's
destination. She kept walking upwards, not noticing anything around her. She wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible and then leave. The bird above
her screamed towards her, like saying 'hurry up,' and in reply Jane whispered under her breath, "Yea, yea... I have short legs, give me a minute."
The bird flew down and landed on a dead tree on top of the hill, waiting patiently
for his charge to haul herself up the hill. A path on the right looked like it was
rarely used. There was a fence of old stone, enclosing an open area that the path
went into. As Jane came up the hill, all she could see was the stone wall, but nothing inside the area. The black bird leaped off his comfortable seat on the tree
and flew over the stone wall. Jane followed suit and walked slowly down the path. She had been trying to hurry up this moment for who knows how long, and
now she was trying so very had to slow it down.
The black bird in the far corner of the enclosed area again cried out a reminder.
Jane picked up her speed and walked towards the corner past the stone time capsules. The phrase that was repeating earlier began to repeat again, "At least
only one had died." She slowed as she came closer to the corner. She stopped in front of the newest of these stone time capsules.
"This is all my fault," she said towards the stone, "I have no words that can explain what I did. Oh why did you let me do what I did!" The rain stopped.
"Stupid me, stupid you... what else is there to say?" Jane asked herself. "I guess all
I can say is I am sorry." She removed a black rose from her inside jacket pocket
and placed it on the tombstone. "I am so sorry," was the last thing she said and
turned towards the black bird.
The black bird cried. "I am ready now, let's go." With that, the figure standing
alone in the corner of the cemetery and the black bird faded from sight.
The tombstone that Jane placed the rose on, read:
Born December 13, 1982
Dead November 3, 2000
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