I drove a couple hours down to the beach in autumn to see a girl I used to know. When I got there she never answered my calls. I drank a couple beers after walking the boardwalk; I never remembered this place being so run down. Perhaps it was all different 14 years ago. I drove to my old neighborhood, to the old house on Falling Lane. There were two kids out front of the townhouse, shirtless and skateboarding in the street. It was the same way my brother and I used to skate.
I thought about the time he told me to say the f-word and I yelled “fuck” without realizing there was a priest across the street greeting a family whose mother had just died. I thought about the time him and Jammi and I snuck up to the old autistic man’s house, the one that always kept his door open and let his television blare out to the street, and the time we heard him talking about killing someone on the phone before we scattered.
I thought about the dealers we’d spy on and the man the next street over who was killed because he didn’t have enough money for the drugs. Then there was the time we sat in the car that used to be in that driveway and my mother told me that Granddad was going in for a simple bypass surgery before she told me that the complications killed him.
The time I stood on the steps as she told me my grandmother had been diagnosed with breast cancer and that my brother and I should pray for her. The day my father came home honorably discharged from the Navy because his heart was diseased, the months he went without work as my mother struggled to keep paying the rent. The time I fell face first into the asphalt and chipped my front tooth. The beach was always run down, I was only ten, I thought being poor and constantly enduring new heartbreak was the way life was supposed to be.
Originally from Fredericksburg, Morgan White is a reporter and creative writer living in Farmville.