It was the most heartbreaking thing I could imagine: an entire mysterious lifetime being abandoned and then forgotten. I considered my purchase of the ancient suitcase stuffed with faded photographs to be something of a rescue mission. I wouldn’t know the names and stories behind the grave, staring faces, but I would be letting them live on somehow anyway. I hoped someone would be so kind to me. Flipping through the stacks there in the musty antique store, I found myself already inventing entire histories for these strangers who had slipped, lost and lonely, through the cracked boardwalk of time.
I looked through the glass at her. I did not know if the place that was now a sign store had actually been a movie theatre, but it had been made up to look like one at any rate, and the “ticket booth” was manned by a mannequin wearing a stained green blouse, cat’s-eye glasses, and a nametag that proclaimed “LAVERNE.” She held a strip of tickets in her plastic hand and stared vacantly at the passing cars. There was something that seemed terribly lonely about her, as if she remembered being real and was now trapped inside this shell.
She’d been so fond of this yellow bikini with white polka dots when she’d bought it earlier in the summer, but now she was afraid everyone would think she’d only purchased it because of that song that was suddenly all over the radio. Well, she certainly was not shy like the girl in the song–she was proud of her visible curves as she walked along the beach, collecting seashells, building sandcastles that would soon fall victim to the relentless tide, diving head-first into the crashing waves to emerge with her strawberry blonde hair salty and pressed against her, laughing.
So many times she found herself wandering the city streets, looking for him. She didn’t know where he was and she didn’t know what she would do if she found him but she knew she had to keep looking. Skyscrapers dipped around her, making her claustrophobic, the asphalt tore her bare feet, but still she walked, needing to be on his doorstep. He would know what to do with her, he would make everything exactly how it should be. In the morning, she felt hollow. She went through the day with a cloudy head, not entirely sure it wasn’t real.