Posted on September 16, 2013September 15, 2013 by Patricia Ann McNair9.16.2013 Journal Prompt Image from A Thousand Clowns September 16, 2013: There was nothing else he could do. Share this:ShareClick to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
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There was nothing else he could do. He shook his head and sighed. He had to get credit for trying, he thought, even if he’d made mistakes before. He looked up the length of the street. It was all changed and he didn’t really recognize the place. It had all started here and it felt like nowhere he ever knew.
His folks were long gone from Sixth Street. They had a plot up at Markie’s Cemetery and he’d stopped there first, out of respect. The stones were leaning and the graves were all neglected. He pulled at the grass, cropping it ragged and short, and he laid flowers at the foot. He thought to pray, but then he didn’t.
The block where they’d lived had been knocked down and there was a new supermarket in its place. He stood there a moment, searching for something, anything that might remind him that this was home once. A kid in shorts and with his hair all tails and tangles asked if he had a cigarette to spare and the boy called him ‘mister’.
It wasn’t the graves of his folks that had brought him back. Not exactly. It was something to do with a girl he once knew and the wrong that he’d done her. Her name was Laura and she was something to him years back. He didn’t have a picture of her, not even as a girl, and her family name was something lost to him, too. Just Laura was what he had and an address where she’d once lived and a fistful of memories that he clung to even though they were sharp as pieces of broken glass in his tight fist.
There was a space in the street, a whole block missing, like a page torn out of a book and the ragged edge of the torn page left behind, a gap in the story. He asked around, asked what had happened.
‘Been down for years, Son. They was gonna put up fancy apartments and make a killing, only there was suddenly no money and so we got left with a hole in the neighbourhood.’
He asked about a girl called Laura, only she’d be all grown up now and married maybe and with kids. The old man shook his head. He didn’t know no Laura hereabouts.
‘People don’t stay in the one place no more,’ the man said. ‘Always moving and always lost.’
Laura, a girl in his memory, a girl he could have married once. And he should have. The child she was carrying was his after all. But he took to his heels and ran as far away as running could take him. He was just a kid himself at the time and there were things he wanted to do in his life. That was his excuse then and his excuse still. Laura and a kid with his name would only have got in the way. And he had made something of himself in the years since, and his parents might have been proud if they could’ve seen past the rotten that he’d been in running.
Of course, he could never make things right, no amount of money could do that, but he was here trying to. His son would be nearly twenty by now and maybe he could give the boy a leg up in the world. Or he could set Laura on her feet and tell her he was sorry for what he’d done. Only, there was a gap in the world and a whole chapter of his life missing. He shook his head and sighed and kicked at the broken dirt. There was nothing else he could do. He folded the piece of paper with Laura’s address on and he slipped it into his inside jacket pocket. Then he left the way he had come, not stopping at Markies cemetery on his way out.