Chapter 29

[Note: This is shorter than the other chapters. Consider it as a bridge between Parts Two and Three.]


It’s funny how the distance can make you feel close

And the things you lost are the things you want most.”

                        -Eva Cassidy, “Say Goodbye”



            Justin sat in the large cushioned chair, swiveling slightly from left to right. He tapped his pen impatiently against the wood veneer of the large conference table.

            “So, let’s configure the profits made from this tour,” Johnny said. “Minus all the expenses, of course.”

            Tim, sitting next to Johnny, nodded and grabbed his calculator. Together the two of them went over the various bills, receipts, and sheets of paperwork strewn across the table.

            While they worked, the five guys in the band sat in their chairs, bored. Two days back from the tour and they were already back to the same routine.

            Joey reached into his pocket and after some searching, triumphantly pulled out a quarter. From across the table, Chris caught the glint of the coin and sat up eagerly, ready to play some football.

            Justin saw what they were doing and decided to follow suit. He took one of the notepads sitting near him and ripped off a piece of paper, then folded it into a triangle.

            “Come on, flag football,” he mouthed to Lance.

            Lance nodded and they began their own match, quickly getting involved in the game and not paying any more attention to the financial calculations.

            JC watched the two games with interest, barely stifling his laugh when Joey’s quarter hit Chris in the nose.

            “Guys!” Johnny said loudly.

            They immediately turned to face their manager, all putting on innocent faces except for Chris, who was rubbing his nose.

            Johnny gave them his you-aren’t-fooling-me look, but opted not to say anything. “I’m happy to inform you that this tour was a major success. Much more so than the ‘No Strings Attached’ one. Here,” he said, holding out a piece of paper with a number circled on the bottom, “This is what it comes out to.”

            The five of them leaned in to get a closer look at the number.

            “Holy shit!” Chris exclaimed.

            “Yeah, I wouldn’t put it in those words exactly,” JC said, “But that is a lot of money.”

            “Be proud of it, you earned it,” Johnny replied with a smile on his face. He looked around the table and saw that they still had wide eyes. It was good that some things could still surprise them.

            “Well, you’re off for the rest of the day. Do what you want,” he suggested, getting up and ushering them out the door.

            “Man, I feel like I’m sweating liquid gold,” Joey joked. “This is sweet.”

            “Let’s not get too cocky,” Lance warned. “We’ve all watched ‘Where Are They Now?’ on VH1. Let’s not forget MC Hammer.”

            Chris laughed. “You said ‘cocky.’”

            Lance rolled his eyes. “So what are we gonna do with this free day?” he asked, changing the subject.

            “Let’s cruise around,” JC said. “It’s nice to finally be able to drive ourselves around again.”

            “I think I’m going to head home for now. Unpack the rest of my clothes and everything,” Justin decided instead, heading to his car.

            JC gave him a concerned look. “Alright, but call us when you’re done.”

            Justin nodded and got into the car, driving away. He needed some time to think, and it was better to just be alone.

            He unlocked the door to his house and stepped in, letting the cold air wash over him. It was always weird the first few days back from touring, because everything was so unfamiliar. The house didn’t even smell right. It was like he was just visiting instead of actually living there. Well, living part-time.

            He climbed the steps and went into his room, lying down on the bed and getting comfortable. Then he reached over to his nightstand and took a book that was lying next to the clock. Dandelion Wine. The book itself wasn’t important, it was what was inside it that he wanted. He pulled it out.

            It was the letter from Lillian. He must have read it at least a hundred times already. The paper was starting to get a little wrinkled because he folded and unfolded it so much. Carefully smoothing it out on his lap, he scanned the words again.


            Hi Justin,

            I’m not really sure what to write, to be honest. What happened at the club was awkward, I guess, for lack of a better word. And since then, we’ve both been kept pretty busy. But don’t think for a second that we’re not friends. I won’t forget about all the fun things we did together, like playing pranks on Lance and teaming up every so often for the L and J connection. Some of our memories were priceless, and although you may forget about them after new things come and replace them in your mind, I know that I will always cherish them.

            When we first met, we didn’t exactly hit it off, obviously. But given time, things settled down. You taught me some things, like giving people second chances and being more trusting. A year ago, I wouldn’t have even considered writing a letter like this. You might not realize it, but you did help me.

            I wish that things didn’t turn out this way. There could have been other possibilities, but I suppose this is how it’s going to be. I regret that sometimes, but whenever I feel sad I can look back at the happy memories that you were a large part of. I guess that’s all I wanted to write. Take care of yourself.





            Justin sat there, reading it over and over again. This nagging feeling kept bothering him, like there was something he was missing in the letter, like there was a deeper meaning behind the words. He reread it constantly, thinking that maybe it would come to him. What was she trying to tell him?

            ‘I wish that things didn’t turn out this way…I regret that sometimes.’ He regretted things too. He should have talked to her after the kiss, at least showed some type of response instead of avoiding the whole situation. But it was too late now. He didn’t even know where she’d gone. Not college, because it was the summer. Not to any relatives’ house, because she didn’t ever talk of any and he knew both her parents were gone.

            What’s the point, J? It’s over. Move on with your life. It’s not as if you love her…

            He sighed, finally folding the paper back up and slipping it back between the pages of the book.


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