Return (Ginger Man 12A)

Four days later, Charlie drove his parents’ pickup into the parking lot of Bark Bay High School. It was late in the afternoon, long after the final class for the day had ended, and the parking lot currently hosted more birds than vehicles. Crows flew out from his path as Charlie drove around to the back of the building. He saw two cars (a nondescript sedan, and a sleek coupe) next to the cafeteria entrance; Charlie parked his truck two spaces away from the coupe.

As he walked toward the glass doors leading to the school, Charlie thought how this would be the first time he’d been here since graduation, nearly a year ago. But as he grasped the metal door handle, the touch seemed to spark his memory, and made him realize that no, this wasn’t the first time he’d been back. He stopped himself as the door closed behind him. Three months ago . . . he remembered telling his mother as they left that yes, he’d contact the principal, thank him for what he’d said at Mike’s memorial service. Those words came back in high-definition memory. Many people called me that awful night, asking me if I knew how he died. I didn’t know at the time, and what I realized in the coming days was that, it really didn’t matter to me. What I want to remember — what I do remember — is how he lived. And it’s that memory I hope we can all keep alive in our hearts.

Charlie shook his head and stepped forward, towards the large metal double-doors leading to the cafeteria. Today wasn’t about returning to anything, but rather about finding answers so that he could put to rest the crazy notions that were running around in his head.

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