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December 19th

This is chapter three of a story I’m working on called The Other One. For chapter one, click here.

It’s funny how some things start to come back to you. I just instinctively remembered how to get to the grocery store, despite not driving around town in years. In fact, the store itself hadn’t changed much, so even the layout of the old store was oddly familiar, bringing back memories of the countless times I was in here growing up.

However, even with the sudden rush of familiarity, this supposedly quick trip to pick up things for my mother would still likely take far too long minutes, due to her habit of making remarkably vague shopping lists. She knew exactly what she needed, so she wrote the lists out for herself in some language only she knew how to speak.

Without fail, though, she would ask one of us to pick the things up for her, and without fail, we would waste the majority of our time time trying to interpret which particular brand or size she needed.

I always wondered if she wanted to make it some sort of game. Maybe she got a good laugh out of knowing that we would inevitably bring home at least two incorrect items. But whatever her reasons, it was a foregone conclusion that the next several minutes of my life would be spent wondering if she needed sticks of butter or a tub of margarine, or even something in between.

Right about the time I was surely about to contract hypothermia from the dairy section, I started to worry that other people in the store would start staring, worried that I had lost my mind. I could already feel eyes falling on me, wondering if I would ever come to a decision.

“Aaron?” came a voice to my right. “Aaron Palmer?”

Turns out eyes actually had fallen on me, and was thrown off by a voice that I was certain I didn’t recognize. Read More…

December 18th

This is chapter two of a story I’m working on called The Other One. For chapter one, click here.

As expected, my first day back was a massive blur of southern hospitality. Everyone acted as if this were the first time we had even seen each other in years, not just my first time back in Manchester. There were sports to watch, ornaments to hang, and food to eat. Not to mention so many collard greens, mustard greens and turnip greens that I was certain I was through with the color green forever.

Thankfully, the next day was different. Things were calm, or at the very least calmer, and it allowed me time to borrow a car and explore the city. I wanted to eventually make my way to certain places I hadn’t been in years, though for some reason I felt like I had to build up to that.

More than anything else, though, it gave me time to process. Think about how things felt different, though they looked the same. Think about the past seven years. And to think about how things were seven years ago. Read More…

December 17th

This is chapter one of a fiction piece I’m working on called “The Other One”

Ethan had always been obsessed with the number 7. I could never figure it out, and although he was my best friend, he certainly never explained it to me. But he listed things in 7s, always kept 7 sodas in his fridge, and somehow knew a way to spend exactly 7 dollars at any fast food place in town. When they changed prices, it was like he was a little kid on Christmas morning and it was all game that he would very quickly win at.

It was uncanny. And truth be told, it fascinated me as well. Then again, his bizarre behaviors were always fascinating, and it’s what made him easy to hang out with. He wasn’t demanding, he wasn’t needy. He was just odd and comfortable with that. That fact is what made us friends in the first place: the fact that we both felt too “odd” to quite fit in.

When everyone else our age was getting ready to go off to college, Ethan and his family got the unwelcome news of illness. Even I was floored by it. I wanted to help, but couldn’t. It felt like one of those weird dreams where I was in danger and only half asleep, but couldn’t move my body at all. When he got sick, it felt a bit like the world was starting to implode.

And when he died….well, I left everything behind. It was years ago, but it still feels fresh to me.

Moving across the country wasn’t really as difficult as I thought at first. A major change to be sure, but the adjustment was the only hard part. I wasn’t sacrificing much. No close friends. No pursuit of higher education. I was good enough with technology to make a living off of that wherever I ended up. I didn’t feel like I was really leaving anything behind here in Manchester, Mississippi.

Anything except my family. And because of them, I now find myself at this tiny Mississippi airport, waiting for a ride to the place I wasn’t sure I wanted to see again. Read More…