The named.

One.

I awoke slowly without opening my eyes, the feeling of warm air around me, sensing the direct sunlight on half of my face. Not the worst way to wake up, compared to nights where I would wake up in a panic, or to sounds of distress. Sometimes the slightest noises rouse your mind to a journey of the worst possibilities, while you tell yourself, “it’s just the wind.” Opening my eyes, I let in the world around me, accepting that it was another day, by now I did so with a sort of accepting apathy. Preparing myself to go through the motions of another set of hours before I lay down and drift off, to then once again anticipate the start of another new day.

My surroundings were familiar, I had been staying here a while. The third story of an old building with large windows facing the small downtown square. In the mornings the air was filled with a gentle bustle, a few cars passing intermittently, birds chirping and people going about their day. The population of the town was about 20,000, having most amenities you could hope for without having to drive to nearby cities. The room was almost entirely bare, only an old painting hang on the wall depicting an elderly couple sitting silently. The man appeared to be writing something into a weathered notebook and the woman stared toward a fireplace. The fire looked to be almost out, and no logs were left in the rack next to it. Only a couple lonely pieces of bark remained under the rack that had fallen off in the process. The embers still had life though, and a soft, warm glow filled the small room they were in. I looked at the painting again briefly, and walked out the room. The rooms had no furnishings or decor, as was the same for the rest of the abandoned building. It was deemed unsafe for residents yet the cost to restore it would be too much for a small town with little tourism and so the condemned building simply added to the charm of the the town square.

As I walked outside I felt the cool gentle breeze perfectly compliment the direct sunlight. I had been working on appreciating these small things, it kept me sane, or at least not bitter. The clock on the town hall building read 7:08 and I walked around the square, nodding at the accessional person that passed. A grouping of fairly large oak trees were at the north end of the park in the middle of the square which had a couple nice benches that marked names of people I believed settled the town, or perhaps died and the memory of those individuals were commemorated by a bench, I haven’t figured out which yet and wasn’t sure how I felt about someone’s memory being honored in that way. Regardless I sat down on the one that read “Timothy Peters”, which was my favorite. It faced the old building I stayed in and from this point of view made it look like it was somehow alive, reminiscent of earlier days when it was still inhabited. However the large windows looking like eyes, now looked slightly sad, sinking with age. It was a Tuesday so I waited for Cathy to arrive. I watched the crows as they looked for their breakfast, and paid no mind to anything else around them, I found this remarkably similar to how people act.

I looked over and saw Cathy slowly making her way through the park towards the benches. The same gentle pace she kept every day, smiling at the couple she passed and seemingly just enjoying the privilege of being on this earth. That’s why I liked her, and I’ve been trying to learn to view the world the way she does. She reached the Timothy Peters bench and sat down, putting her small bag beside her. “Good morning Cathy.” I said smiling. I began telling her about my week, and how I was continuing to work on overcoming some of my anxiety and apathy. As I spoke I couldn’t help but reflect on some of the things I saw during the last week. I had seen a couple at a restaurant, dressed up nicely and they appeared to be very well off financially. At first the night seemed to go well, they made small talk about work over a couple glasses of wine. The husband mentioned he was sorry for all the overtime recently and a saw the corner of one of her lips slightly purse. Quickly it changed to a smile, but her eyes became ever so slightly more reflective, a couple fast blinks later and the reflection subsided. Over the years of watching people I knew what this reaction meant. The husband wasn’t oblivious either as his posture subtly became more defensive and he changed the subject and asked her about what she wanted to order.

The evening continued, the interactions very cordial and by the end of dessert even slightly flirtatious. Which despite the previously inferred emotions was nice to see from a couple in there 40s. The man paid and the woman drove back to their home, I imagine because the husband had more glasses of wine then she. Although he did not appear to be intoxicated, I appreciated this because I have seen far to many accidents in larger towns as a result of over-indulgence. They arrived at their home, large but not extravagant. As they entered the man poured himself a glass of whiskey and walked to his office, while she went upstairs. She went into the bedroom and took of her necklace, no doubt a gift from her husband, she looked at it only a moment longer than seemed to be normal then put it in the case and sat on the bed. Downstairs the husband checked his emails, the majority was junk, advertisements from companies that he might have at one time bought something from. He quickly deleted those and read a couple that appeared to be work related.

The woman called from upstairs asking of he was coming to bed. He replied that he would be up shortly. She, now in her pajamas lay on the bed staring at the ceiling. The man still in his office pulled out a nice wooden box of cigars, he looked out the door cautiously and then brought it to his desk. It appeared odd because the box was clearly on display, so he would have no need to be secretive about it. I realize smoking is unhealthy and have seen the long-term effects but I apparently that’s not what he looked guilty about. He set the case on the desk but upside down, revealing a sliding panel, which housed a cell phone. He glanced at the door again briefly before taking out the phone and began typing a text saying “We have to wait a while, I think my wife is getting suspicious. Maybe next week. I miss you.” He then scrolled up to previous conversations between him and the woman, it was filled with long messages with a theme of lust, longing, and discretion. He opened and image she had sent, explicit. He stared at it intensely. Seeming to forget about how cautious he was before, as if the world outside his eyes had faded way. He then abruptly put the phone back in the cigar case, and placed it back on the shelf. He closed his office door, as if somehow leaving his guilt there and went upstairs to the bedroom. His wife looked at him as he walked through the door, he began to undress and sighed and said “Sorry about that, work.” She simply nodded. He got into bed and kissed her. As the kissing became more passionate, I turned to leave. I looked back and even though the room was dark I saw that he paid no attention to her eyes, which were closed but the sad reflectivity I had seen earlier in the restaurant had built up to a tear and slowly slid down the corner of her eye and across her cheek, down to the soft pillow below her head, disappearing.

Cathy still said nothing and after a moment looked down at her bag and removed a weathered hardcover novel. Opening the book to a chapter four and very gently placing an old, frayed picture of a handsome young man used as a bookmark, to the back of the book. I moved closer to her and we both read silently. Her reading pace was slow and deliberate, I could tell she let her mind travel to the world the novel contained. I waited for her to finish the page, and once she did she turned to the next. About an hour later she took the old picture back out and placed it where we left off. She closed the book gently and looked up out at the park for a moment before putting the book back into her bag, smiled and slowly stood up. “Have a good day Cathy.” I said. As always she said said nothing and walked away.

Two.

It was approaching noon, and the summer air warmed the park. I sat silently at the bench not really thinking about anything, almost waiting, though I didn’t know what for. The town hall clock chimed and brought my awareness back to the moment. I felt the indifference setting back in, which to me was just the evolution of bitterness. I got up and walked away from the square, looking back at the window to my room in the distance. I passed the park and saw a group of kids playing, while their parents passively kept an eye on them. Seeing their imagination and carefree spirits, I couldn’t help but smile. Ahead was a bus stop that went directly to the closest city, two people were standing by the sign, they appeared to not know each other. I walked over and waited with them for a few minutes until the bus came. The familiar sound of the breaks and the doors opening, reminded me how much I hated going to the city. Nevertheless I boarded and sat close to the back in an empty row.

The bus rumbled along, and I scanned the people. One young man was dressed nicely, wearing a tie and brown dress shoes with newer fitted jeans and a checkered dress shirt. His eyes fixed to the phone, allowing him to avoid eye contact with anyone else on board. A mom with her two young girls sat in the row in front of him explaining what they had to do in order to get ice cream later. On man toward the front appeared to be homeless, carrying a large black plastic bag, his eyes were solum and tired. Everyone onboard had a different set of goals to accomplish at the next stop, but it was still just a day that would fade from their memories, eventually utterly inconsequential. “Stop thinking like that.” I told myself. I closed my eyes, listening to the hum of the road. A few minutes later I again heard the brakes of the bus, followed by the slight screech of the doors opening. Thinking that if someone applied just a little bit of oil to the door it would prevent the sound entirely, I realized it probably just wasn’t enough of an annoyance to merit any action. I waited to stand up until everyone had exited, contemplating just staying on and returning back. Against my better judgement decided to exit.

The air felt slightly heavier in the city, as if the effects of added exhaust from the cars and lack of trees made a noticeable textural difference. The bus stop was a few blocks from the heart of the city with scattered stores and houses along the way. Some houses were pristine with nice cars in the driveway and well-manicured lawns, whereas a couple doors down there will be a house with faded cracking pain and a disintegrating driveway. You could only assume the car parked there was in the same condition but they were off at work. It wasn’t a large metropolis but had many buildings over 20 stories, filled with offices of large corporations. The buildings got taller the further I walked. Sometimes I would go and explore the many floors and offices and see what people were working on but usually it wasn’t all that interesting. Realizing I had no particular goal for being there I just walked with the flow of people.

A few homeless people sat along the sides of the building, holding signs explaining their situation and asking for help. Some had funny messages outrightly asking for drugs or beer. Others with seemingly more honorable intentions of seeking food for their children. One day I had been moved with pity and hopelessness for not being able to help, I followed him that night as he took his sign with him and walked down the street. After a few blocks he pulled a set of keys from his pocket. I looked around and only saw a couple fairly expensive cars nearby. Lights flashed and the car in front of him beeped, unlocking. He got into the car, which couldn’t have been more than a year old and drove off. A few weeks later when I had been walking around I saw the car parked in front of a nice apartment complex, the car was parked in a spaced marked with the apartment number and I investigated. He lived alone with a nice TV and sound system. No kids, not homeless, just smart, in some aspects of the word, with little drive and even less shame. But this was not the case with everyone I saw begging that street. A different day I had seen an older woman as she slept on the streets, cold and alone. She had no alter-ego, no fake story and no desire for drugs or a bottle of the cheapest liquor she could get ahold of. One night I sat beside her, unable to sleep myself. Hours passed in silence until the sky turned from black to dark blue, hinting at the morning to come. I turned to her and saw she had finally drifted off. Later I would find out, she never woke.

I tried to stop reflecting at things I had seen in the past that bothered me as I continued walking. I killed time walking into a bookstore I was fond of. As I walked in I was greeted by the smell of fresh coffee coming from the small cafe inside. Although I’ve never tasted it, the smell was comforting and seemed to go well with books. I have often heard the expression in the past, “never judge a book by it’s cover.” As much as I agreed with this sentiment, I had little choice in the matter. Except when a book was accidentally placed upside down and I could read the summary or looking over someones shoulder after the title or cover peaked someones interest, and they opened to read a couple paragraphs. I walked over to the new releases, a couple of cookbooks highlighting a new diet, the sequel to a best seller, and a few others I could not really tell from the cover the exact subject matter.

Feeling as though I needed to improve my mood I walked over to the humor section. A Calvin and Hobbes book lay open on the ground, thankful for this somewhat rare occurrence I immediately sat down to read the exposed pages. It made me smile at least. I looked up and saw an employee from the bookstore walk over and pick up the book, looking for its proper place on the shelf and placing it back. I walked back over to the cafe where small tables next to large comfortable chairs were. I sat down on the well-worn leather and looked at the newspaper laying out on the table. I began to read one of the cover articles on global warming but after only a few sentences it stopped abruptly-“continued on D4” It made me laugh, I had made that mistake multiple times. The first time it happened I waited by the paper until someone would hopefully be intrigued by the same piece and turn to the article. After a couple hours an older man picked up the paper and adjusted his glasses. I watched as his eyes scanned the paper. His eyes stopped and I filled with hope as I saw him skim a couple lines and then open the paper. The hope quickly turned to a humorous disappointment as he passed the article I was interested in, and went for the crossword. He pulled out a pen and after he filled in two incorrect words back-to-back I lost interest and walked away.

I briefly glanced back at the paper, but not wanting to get sucked back into the same situation I got up and walked to the coffee bar. A girl with brown hair and green eyes kept busy behind the counter cleaning and restocking supplies. She wore a beanie hat, her attire looked as though she woke up late and wore a combination of pajamas and normal clothes. Her face however looked like she had all the time in the world to get ready. Very little makeup, if any, the sort of natural beauty that was desired by most girls. Although in my vast experience at people watching I’ve learned that beauty was a very individual experience, and perceptions varied greatly. Some girls who were truly beautiful sought the approval of the few how did not find them beautiful, as apposed to the majority who did. Creating a sense of disappointment in themselves based only on what they chose to focus on. As I thought about that I realized I did the same thing, I guess we all can focus on the wrong things.

Suddenly aware I had zoned out again I felt grateful she couldn’t see me blankly staring at her. I found that to be called “creepy” by popular culture. A handsome young man who appeared to be in his mid-twenties approached the counter and ordered a coffee. Then I remembered him from the bus ride over. I saw his pupils dilate as he obviously saw the same thing I had in the girl in front of him. She very causally took his order made his coffee and handed it to him smiling. He thanked her, put a couple of dollars in the tip jar and sat down where I had been sitting earlier and picked up the paper. I watched as he turned to D-4 and I quickly read the rest of the article over his shoulder. I looked at him and could tell he wasn’t even reading it and just kept occasionally glancing up to see if the girl making coffee happened to be also glancing at him. I was used to seeing this type of behavior, and typically it ended harmlessly. Sometimes that one interaction would be it and quickly forgotten. Other times people would return again hoping to slowly build a friendship, but rarely I have witnessed how some had insidious intentions.

The girl never made eye contact with the young man, seemingly aware how even an unintentional look back could send the wrong message. Although he seemed very nice, I wondered if perhaps she had a boyfriend. This is the sort of thing that helps me pass the time, even though I felt like those women captivated by day-time soap operas. Every once and I while I would go to nursing homes and sit with some elderly women who never had visitors and watch an episode or two with them. Not that it made them feel any better I was there but I guess it helped ease my conscience. Something about this girl at the coffee shop drew my attention, not her beauty, as that surrounds me every day. This wasn’t the first time I’ve felt this same sensation. A part of me filled with dread thinking back on how the other situations ended. I walked behind the counter to look for something that might stand out as interesting, realizing I was looking for clues I felt slightly embarrassed. Thinking back on famous detectives from a book Cathy brought once with a detective called Sherlock Holmes. “Come Watson” I said to myself, laughing as I walked to the back of the bar and saw a cork-board with a timesheet. I scrolled down to Tuesday and checked the time on the clock, “3:30-Close” had one name next to it, Claire. Trying to shake the looming sense of something wrong connected to this girl, I walked back towards the young man. He still was glancing towards her every couple of minutes.

After about 20 minutes he finished his coffee which I imagined was quite cold by now and set the paper back down on the table. He walked up to the counter and Claire looked up at him smiling. “Thanks the coffee was great.” He threw the cup into the trash. “You’re welcome, have a great day.” She said very genuinely. He looked as though he wanted to say something else and then just smiled and left. I followed him out of the bookstore. He briefly checked his phone and then walked across the street to an investment firm. I walked with him through the revolving doors into the heavily air conditioned lobby. The lobby had no ceiling other than the glass and steel roof at least 20 stories up. Of course all the floors did but the architecture of the lobby was impressive as you could see the windows of the offices on each floor. The decor was very modern, with no color other than a few plants near a fountain in the center. He nodded at the the person behind the lobby desk and pressed the elevator button.

We stood next to each other silently headed to to the 16th floor. There was no elevator music like in the movies, just the hum of the lift taking us up. I tried to analyze his expression for some sinister quality, but he seemed by all intents and purposes to be normal, almost disappointingly boring. I felt the elevator slow as it gently stopped and chimed at the 16th floor. The doors opened smoothly and the young man walked to a nearby desk. He logged into the computer and I looked around his office space for anything to tell me more about him. He had a picture of what I assumed to be his parents and maybe younger sister, a calendar with no dates marked and a simple office clock. His waste basket had a couple pieces of mail, and food wrappers. “Hey Chris.” I heard a man say. I turned around, a tall man in a grey suit stood there holding a couple pieces of paper in his hand. They made small talk about a basketball game the night before and then the man asked if Chris could work that Saturday to finish some reports. “Sure” Chris said. The man walked away and Chris quietly sighed. He pulled out his phone and sent a text to someone saying he’s not going to be able to make it on Saturday because of work. He then sat down and started typing, the bored expression on his face soon mirrored my own and I left him. I felt no looming sense of danger directly coming from him, it was just my own paranoia. “Well, that’s one way to kill the time.” I thought, feeling a little foolish.

I left the building, and headed back to the bookstore. For the rest of the afternoon I sat there contemplating the strange sense I felt around this girl. Although this feeling was familiar, in the past it only lead me to witness sad outcomes I could do nothing to prevent. Followed by an overwhelming sense of guilt and responsibility even though I had nothing to do with the things that happened. Being a bystander effected me, and I felt myself become a little less, every time I saw another bad thing happen. Years of being around people has taught me a lot about them, never failing to surprise me with their capability of love and brutality. Where I fit in to all this was a question I stop myself from asking now.

At first I had wondered if I were a ghost, just with no memory of who I was before I died. But then I wondered why I never saw any other ghosts around. Then exposure to various people’s faith made me believe that maybe I was some sort of guardian angel, but I couldn’t do a damn thing to help anyone, so that theory went out the window. Admittedly I did try to interact with people for months before mostly giving up. And occasionally I still can’t help myself and attempt to stop people before they do something I know will end in pain. While most of my life and how it works still alludes me there are a couple things I am fairly certain of. I can’t directly interact with anything, so if I’m sitting on a chair and someone comes up to sit in the same spot I just find myself standing next to the chair. I tried standing in front of a train once, I watched as it approached and obviously it didn’t slow or honk, just rushed through me. And though I can walk through walls and if I think hard enough about a place I’ll find myself there, I prefer to act like I’m a normal person. People ignore strangers around them all the time, it feels nice to pretend. Obviously it’s hard to make friends for someone in my situation so I gravitate towards people with routines, like Cathy. She I would say, is my best friend.

The sun began to set as I sat back at the bookstore pondering my purpose, if there was any and waited for something bad to happen. Claire began to close down the cafe section, putting the couple uneaten pastries into a paper bag, and turning of the lights. She took of her apron and folded it neatly into her bag, I noticed a scar on her collarbone that I hadn’t seen with the apron on. She adjusted her shirt slightly and it no longer was visible. She waved at a couple of the bookstore employees, saying goodbye as she left. The sun now below the horizon only left the a faint red glow in the sky as she walked out.

She headed down the street, walking with a fast confident pace. I had been here late at night, and knew like any city very few good things happen after sundown. I walked a few paces behind her looking around for anything out of the ordinary. She put on some headphones and I caught up so I could see what she was playing. The song was called “War” by Josh Record. I saw her increase the volume, louder then necessary as if she was trying to drown out the world around her. I couldn’t help thinking this was foolish, she should be able to hear what’s around her, especially alone in this part of the city. But the look in her eyes as she listened to the song told me there wasn’t much she was afraid of. This look I’ve only seen by two kinds of people, those who are oblivious and know little of how bad this world can be. The other type is those who experienced the bad, to a level that equips them with an armor stronger than anything I have seen. Sadly it looked like she possessed the later. I gentle put my ear next to hers and listened to the music as we walked. I felt her strength as if it somehow passed to me a little, I felt a little less helpless and determined to prevent whatever looming threat I felt from happening to her. She reached her house and quietly unlocked the door. The living room light was off but the tv was on. I saw a man laying on the couch, asleep. Claire turned off the tv, and put a blanket over him. She walked up the stairs and gently opened a door, leaving the lights off. Following her I entered what I quickly realized was a little boys room. He lay sleeping in what looked like a terribly uncomfortable position but his serene face said otherwise. She looked at him for a couple minutes then gently kissed his forehead. She left the room, softly closing the door. She went to her room and I could tell she was getting ready for bed. Sensing no immediate danger I left, debating whether or not I would ever check on her again. I was reminded of the many previous times I thought I could help and left defeated.

My first inclination was to assume the man downstairs sleeping was the source of the pain she experienced, abusive fathers were among the worst creatures on this earth, I had no sympathy for such people and often imagined ways I’d love to hurt them. Numerous times I witnessed despicable actions, with excuses of drug and alcohol influence. When I first came to this world, for lack of a better term, I stayed in an empty apartment, it was for rent but just unoccupied at the time. I was still trying to figure out everything and got a cruel crash-course in my limitations. One night I heard a young girl crying, it sounded like it came from the floor above me. I climbed out on the fire escape to get up to the window to her room, unaware at that time I could’ve just walked through the wall. The young girl looked like she was about 7, room decorated with warm colors and a collection of stuffed animals. A couple drawings were on a little plastic table, it showed a girl with green princess dress on with a sword pointed at dragon. The picture was obviously drawn by a child but the dragon legitimately looked evil, the sort of evil this little girl should know nothing of. She clutched a small stuffed bear and sat in her closet. “What’s wrong?” I asked, she kept her eyes tightly closed not saying anything. As tightly as her eyes were closed, tears still made they’re way through, soaking the bears soft fur.

Suddenly the door flew open and I saw the silhouette of a man holding a bottle. He walked into the soft glow of the girls night-light, and I looked into his face and then back to the drawing of the dragon. He almost gently closed the door, walking slowly towards the closet. Panic filled me, as he got closer and grabbed the girls arm. I tried to tackle him but just found myself on the ground. I yelled every expletive I knew, throwing punches that went right through him. I looked into his eyes, slightly yellow but blood shot and unable to focus. He whispered to the girl and picked her up and sat on the the small bed. I ran down stairs and found the kitchen, looking for anything sharp, I saw a knife, not the sharpest but it would do. I knew by this point that I had been unsuccessful at interacting with the world but I refused to believe that this time. I put my hands over the knife and pulled with all my strength. The knife did not budge, as if it weighed thousands of pounds. I heard the girl scream followed by a muffled noise. I screamed almost inhumanely in anger trying once more to move the knife. I felt exhausted, I walked up the stairs with a hatred so cold it frightened me, as if I was capable of being a worse monster, to kill all the other monsters. I stood outside the closed door, there were little stickers on the door which read: Nancy’s Room. I was overcome with grief and though I wished for the relief of tears, none came. “I’m sorry Nancy.” I whispered. I never went back.

Three.

Wednesday morning came and with it the familiar first light that slowly poured into my bare room, beckoning me to do something with the day ahead. I watched the dust dance in the suns glow, while I contemplated yesterdays events. Walking over to the window to feel the sunlight I looked over the town square. It was still early, the crows were out on the dew coated grass looking for their breakfast. I wanted to tell Cathy about the girl at the bookstore, and whether not I should check on her, but I would have to wait almost another week before we would meet at our usual bench. Often I contemplated completely isolating myself that way I would spare myself the pain of the of witnessing others suffering. I guess that’s why I moved from the city to this town, traumatic experiences were far less frequent.

Leaving my apartment I took a walk in the still-brisk air. I wondered why I could experience sensory details like temperature, or why I could smell the bakery across the street, like a soft cloud of sweet butter. But I don’t eat, and sleep only comes as a relief from the day. I found I can go weeks without sleeping, however I enjoyed the feeling of peace, where the burdens of my thoughts finally rested. The town hall clock read 6:20, I continued walking around the square. I looked in the windows of the shops as I walked by, most were closed, a few had lights on as they prepared to open, and I could see figures bustling in the background. One shop had papers taped to the window, advertising services offered like lawn maintenance and guitar lessons. There was one that showed a bulletin of upcoming town events, the town hall was opening a small museum later today at noon. This peaked my interest slightly mostly because I had always assumed the town had very little history, let alone enough to make even a small museum about. That gave me something to do though so I walked over to my favorite bench and sat and waited.

I guess another difference between me and most people is I don’t mind waiting. I am in no hurry and if I let it, time moves by rather quickly. I call this Zoning, it’s similar to when I choose to think about a place I want to be, I close my eyes and when I open them sometimes I’m there, although I haven’t really perfected it yet. I wished their was a manual for the things I can and can’t do but even if there was I guess I wouldn’t be able to open it to read it anyway. The town hall clock chimed and I looked back up, 12:00. I had zoned out apparently…“Perks of being… whatever I am.” I thought. There was no line gathered outside for the museum opening and it appeared either no one knew it opened today or no one cared, both were equally likely. I walked up the steps towards the entrance of the building. It was old but well constructed, very simple in its architecture, the only sign of any excelling craftsmanship was the large wooden entrance door. Many feet taller than it had to be and full of intricately carved lines. No words or pictures, just series of lines that occasionally intertwined and ended at the four corners of the door. The wood appeared to be naturally stained with age, as if it was once clean, lightly colored wood a hundred years ago but was now a rich brown, almost black on the edges. Because no one else was there I was forced to walk through the door instead of following behind some who could open it.

The inside of the town hall was nice, clean wood floors and white walls, the air was cool but did not feel artificial. I walked through the main entrance down the hallway, which was decorated with paintings, mostly of landscapes, but one showed the town hall before the square had been filled with shops. Scattered oak trees filled the courtyard and few crows were visible on the grass, and of to the north corner, a single bench. I smiled recognizing my favorite spot. Continuing down the hall, to my left was small auditorium for the various meetings that were occasional held, and to the right was a door with small sign saying “museum.” I followed the sign and examined the small collection of old documents and pictures, showing the founders of the town. In one picture I recognized the building I was staying in, however it looked much better than it did today. Below the picture a small sign read, “Peters Estate” Next to it was a picture of a young couple and a baby, smiling standing in front of the house. The caption for that photo read, “Timothy, his wife Jean, and daughter Cathy.”

I was taken aback for a moment, realizing that Cathy chose that same bench not by happenstance but because her family had been in that town since the beginning, maybe as a way to remember her parents. I continued further into the small room where a small collection of old newspapers were displayed behind glass. The feelings of warmth and nostalgia quickly faded as I began reading the headlines. Suddenly I sensed someone else in the room and turned but I saw no one.

— To be continued.