On Holiday

Hopefully only a short-story by,

Ben Wuest

I beg to dream and differ from their hollow lies…

"Ok, I'll see you at two… Alright, bye." I said before hanging up my cell phone. That was Hector calling from the school I would be driving four hours just to visit. He was calling during lunch – it was about noon – and every time I heard his voice since a couple weeks ago more and more butterflies would be cramming into throat to fill my stomach.

Today was Friday, Sunday is my sixteenth birthday, and tomorrow is the night of the annual Holiday; Nebraska City's all-access formal dance. Driving my family's gold colored Sable was my mother, Marcie, and in the seat behind me my little sister Cassandra was sleeping with her head against the window. We had left at about ten this morning after waking at about eight and the whole trip had been silent except for the music I mixed onto a burnt CD.

Crammed into the large trunk of the spacious vehicle were my two packed suitcases surrounded with my mom and sister's smaller packs. They didn't have to bring five suits of clothing and three pairs of shoes for their weekend. No, they just needed casual clothing to get them by. Me? I couldn't decide what to wear for Holiday; I packed half of my wardrobe. Call me sloppy if you want; I call me classy.

Two hours from now I would be back at Nebraska City; the home I lived in last year and the home I had moved away from just six months prior to this moment. It was Friday, December 16th and it was almost time to begin what was sure to be the greatest weekend of this entire year.

Ok, so to fill you in a bit, my name is Lee Hatcher. I'm a sophomore at Norton Community High School in Norton, Kansas. I'm six feet tall even with blonde hair that falls limply just below my nose. All of my looks were from my mother except my eyes and my nose that obviously came from my father.

While I do have nearly one hundred friends in my hometown of Norton, I had made many more in Nebraska City in the one year I had lived there and I kept in touch with all of them since my move back home. Some of my favorite friends were Trent Wurtele, Jessica Roettger, Nikki Dunn, Adrien Baumann, and of course Hector Jeanneret.

When I still lived in Nebraska City, there was no better place for me to kill of time having fun than at the Imperial Garden where whenever I was in town I was welcome to work there and make some extra money. Working there for the money I make was almost a guilty pleasure; mostly my boss/friend Bryan and I would sit eating Chinese food and be watching the news or football. Business was an average of only fifty customers per hour, so to say the least I was never tired at the end of the day.

I let out a sigh as I reminisced. Not because I didn't like these memories, but because I had only just remembered a new one. A more recent one.

("I can't believe you would choose him over me." Dante told me only about a week ago, throwing me up against the lockers in the boys' locker room beneath the school in Phillipsburg. Behind him, Jay was frantically throwing a shirt over his bare chest, breathing hard in fear and adrenaline.

"Dante… I don't know what to say to you." I said shakily, my shoulders aching as they were sandwiched between the caging and Dante's strong grasp.

"Say I'm wrong. Say that this is not what it seems. Say that you weren't about to do what I think you were about to do. Lie to me. Tell me I'm dreaming. Tell me something but what this really is!" Dante screamed, tears welling up in his eyelids.

I couldn't speak! I just stood there, watching him backing away from me with a look of terror as if I were some sort of monster or as if I'd shot his dog. "Dante…"

He whirled around and punched me so hard that I slid down the lockers to a crouch and I passed out…)

To say the least, Dante sent me an e-mail reciting the closure of our relationship later that night. I loved Dante and it breaks my heart not because he broke up with me, but because I now realize that I've really become a monster. Over the course of my coming of age, I've abused the pleasures of sex to the point that the climactic orgasm is no more than a casual feeling to me now, like pain or warmth.

Sure, I'd relieved myself of the burden of masturbation a couple years ago, but when I have so many connections to so many guys my age in the general area of my home, who needed masturbation anymore? Every time I would get that feeling I would just call up Dante and we would hang out for about an hour or so before relieving both our selves from that feeling.

But about a month before the new climax – the end of the relationship Dante and I had built on since I moved back home – I met Jay at the After The Order concert in Phillipsburg. Sure, I'd met Jay before during wrestling season in the eighth grade, but never had he treated me like he had at the concert. Once the concert had finished, Jay led me just outside the school building and though he knew I was dating Dante, he still wrote down his phone number and personal e-mail address just in case I ever wanted to talk about it.

He was cute; I couldn't say no.

And then, on the day of our breakup, I had agreed to be Jay's guest at a basketball game. Unfortunately, that feeling came about again and I soon found myself under the basketball court in the boys' locker room making out with Jay. I had only relieved him of his t-shirt when Dante tapped my shoulder and threw me back against the lockers.

I sighed again from where I sat in the gold Sable, seeing a sign labeled Welcome to Nebraska City! Home of Arbor Day!. I rolled my eyes and sat up.

That was the corniest sign in the world, but never did I think it would excite me as much as it had today.

Our car took a left and went down a hill and then inclined up a new hill. Sitting on the top of the hill was the ever wondrous Nebraska City High School where in only thirty more seconds I would be walking through the doors.

"Remember what I told you, Lee." My mother said as climbed out of the car.

I shut the door and leaned over, poking my head through the window as I spoke, "I know, I know. Don't drink, don't use, and no sex before ten."

"You're funny and all, Lee, but seriously…"

"Mom," I interrupted, "I promise not to do anything stupid. I'll stop by the restaurant to pick up my bags after school."

"Have fun, Lee, and tell Trent hi for me. Also, thank Hector's parents for letting you stay. Remember to be polite!"

By this point I was already opening the front doors to the school, my eyes locked on the office ahead of me. I walked in and got a visitor pass before hearing it:

"Oh my god! Guys, he's right there in the office!"

I knew that voice. It was Trent Wurtele pointing at me from outside the windows of the office. Then two more people jumped into view and I walked out of the office only to be thrown into an ambush of jumping, cheering friends.

As air was closed off to my lungs by Trent's never-ending squeeze on my neck, I couldn't help but notice Hector standing shyly behind the building crowd of my loving friends. We both ran through the memories of our own friendship that had occurred last year and the thoughts became so uncomfortable that we both eventually unhinged our gaze.

"Guys, guys, guys." I said, pulling Trent off me, calming the crowd. "It's good to be home, but I've been on the road for nearly ten hours now and I'm too tired to celebrate right now."

"Yeah, yeah," Trent said, rolling his eyes as he leaned onto my shoulder, "What a surprise, guys; Lee is tired."

At Trent's comment everybody – including me – laughed rather hard. Let's just say that I had a reputation as a nocturnal being last year.

"Come on, Lee, we've got to get back to Study Hall now." Trent said, wrapping an arm across my shoulders as he steered me toward the staircase leading upstairs. Behind me I noticed Hector was keeping his distance, but still following us. My guess was that he and Trent had the same class this period.

"Now Lee, I'm going to introduce you to my date for Holiday, but I have to warn you; she's hot." We laughed; Hector's laugh a mere chuckle.

"The new chick from Florida?" I asked, double-checking my memory. Trent nodded and pulled open the door to the Study Hall classroom. "Guys! Lee's back!"

"Trent… no…" I moaned as another group of old friends began to jump and cheer all around me. Behind the group, Hector was sitting back into his desk and Trent was talking to a girl with long red hair and many freckles. Through the crowd I could already tell that Trent hadn't fibbed; she was in fact pretty hot.

"Lee, I'd like you to meet Laura." Trent said, pulling me out of the crowd and to the girl with red hair. She looked up and bit her bottom lip, blushing. "Told you she was hot," Trent muttered into my ear so quiet that I almost missed it. Behind me, several friends were asking me questions, but I couldn't pull myself out of the memories between myself and Hector to concentrate on them. Soon the questions ceased as I found myself staring at the blue carpet of the floor; my mind blank.

Trent was waving his hands to hush the group of people, explaining briefly that I was 'too tired' to answer their questions. I shook my head slowly and smirked, Where would I be without him?

Eventually I regained control of my mind and glanced up at Trent and then to Laura. "So are you two dating or just dates?"

"Dating," said Trent.

"Just dates," said Laura, speaking simultaneously with Trent's answer. She smiled and looked up at him and lightly punched his shoulder, "Shut up, you!" She blushed again.

Trent looked at me again, biting down gently on his tongue. It was then that I saw how different Trent's physical appearance had changed since I last saw him. His hair was a darker shade of blonde – almost a brown now – and it hung just below his ears, locks curling at their tips. Before, it had been really short and as golden blonde as my own hair. Also, he used to be about five-foot-six, but now he was just as tall as me. Really the only things that seemed to remain unchanged on Trent were his build – still scrawny – and his mischievous behavior.

But I had been able to tap into the more serious version of my dear cousin last year, when the end-of-year exams had been in effect at the school. It had been an open-campus system here at Nebraska City and Trent and I had both exempted our second hour exams, leaving us nothing to do for the next hour and a half. So, we decided to go to the Arbor Lodge across the street.

Trent had brought me to the monuments of the park – an area I'd never seen before – to a long, semicircle-shaped wall made of polished stone. In the middle of the monument was the Greek goddess Artemis, cradling an olive branch in her arms maternally.

("We used to call this the Whisper Wall when I was younger, my brother and I. Daniel used to always sit me down here, at this end of the Wall, and then he would go to the other side – like this – and he would cup his hands together and whisper comforting words directly into the concrete. Somehow, and I still don't get it, I could hear the words whispering to me; from way over here!")

Trent smiled at me that day from where he sat on the opposite end of the Whisper Wall from me. He tapped his finger to his lips to signal silence to me before twisting around and leaning close to the edge of the wall. He cupped his hands together and whispered:

("Me and Lee, friends to the end.")

See, we had started as friends when I had first moved here to Nebraska City, but as the year progressed we began to piece the puzzle together and after a long chain of family relationships (he's my great-uncle's deceased wife's nephew's cousin's son), we decided to make it easy and dub ourselves cousins. But the point is we started as friends, so he and I always call each other friends because it is what we became used to.

I hate spacing off.

"Jeez, Lee," Trent said with a soft laugh as he threw his backpack over his shoulder, giving me a clap on the back, "You must be either so psyched to be back that you've looped back to bored, or you're just flat-out bored. But whatever, man, that's the bell to go to next hour now. Come on, you're going to love Spanish class." Trent said, gently pulling me to my feet from the desk I'd sat on top of.

"Sorry about that, Trent." I said, leaving no opened excuses.

"Dude, are you ok? You've changed so much since I last saw you. You used to be so hyper all the time," Trent said, actually sounding serious for the first time since the park memory from a year ago. "But now you just seem like there's always something bothering you. Do you need to talk in private somewhere, like we used to?"

"Nah, I'm fine Trent." I said, managing to forge a smile, "I'm just tired. Hey, do you know where I can find…"

I couldn't finish my sentence. When we came around the corner I heard Nikki Dunn's ever-familiar voice cry, "Lee!" She plowed through the crowd of moving students – attracting more attention toward me – and ducked down, wrapping her arms around my legs. She hoisted me into the air and pulled me into a 'deathtrap hug' – her specialty. She kissed me several times on the cheek, laughing the whole time before putting me back on my feet. "Oh god, I've missed you so much, Lee! You and I should totally hang out later this weekend. Unfortunately, I've got to get back to class before I'm late! Ugh, Government class… so lame. Catch you later, Lee!"

And with that, I was left to the awkward stare of Trent as we resumed our walk toward the Spanish room. Inside, I quickly found that I wouldn't be sitting next to Trent, and that I wouldn't be surrounded in questioning friends. Instead, I would be sitting in a desk right beside Hector, silently waiting for my friends to finish their Spanish test that would tally the results for who could exempt from the semester exams.

About ten minutes into mentally slamming my head against a wall, a notebook gently slid across my desk; silently and swiftly. It was open to a page that was headed Hector to Lee. I glanced up at Hector, who was back to testing, and I smirked as I read the message he'd written to me.

: Jade goes to school here now. She wanted me to let you know that. She hopes that she can talk to you before you go back home, because it's been so long since she'd heard anything from you. You should really consider it.

I glanced at Hector, who quickly slid a pen across the desk for me to respond with before he dug out a new one and continued testing. I shook my head and bit my tongue before lifting the pen.

: I'm not mad at her, Hector, she is the one who started all of this. If she wants to see me, then that either means she's going to attempt to murder me, or she's going to apologize, or – knowing her – she'll just pretend nothing ever happened between us and she'll small-talk me until we get so bored we just walk away. But it's odd… I didn't see her today in the halls, did I?

I tapped the tip of my pen on the edge of my desk twice, code for Now? and he tapped his desk twice casually, never looking away from his paper. It was true what I had written; she had started this. Jade Lanswit – another cousin of mine, but one known to be a relative before moving here this time – had gotten pissed off with me over the summer due to me withholding a secret from her for her own good, and she just isolated herself from me entirely.

: She has changed, Lee. So much more than you have changed, anyway. Her behavior has morphed, her appearance has warped, and her day-to-day life has completely revolutionized since you-know-what happened this summer. It's pretty sad to have seen her go like this, but there's still a shade of Jade inside her still. You did see her in the halls, Lee; you just didn't know it.

Later, after school, Hector and I were sitting in his mother's truck on our way out of the city limits toward his house out in the country. He had loosened up a bit, or at least he was better than back at school, and was talking about 'the good ole days' with a short chuckle after each memory.

And then that night, we both were laid out on his roof, staring up at the stars. "What happened to this place, Hector?" I asked, breaking our continuous silence since we'd made it out here.

Hector placed both arms beneath his head and stretched out his legs before letting out a sigh. "Things change, Lee."

"You haven't changed."

"Well," he smiled, "I didn't say all things change. But soon, even I'll change."

"What makes you think that?"

He rolled over and looked at me and I did the same for him. "Because soon you'll be home again."

I locked eyes with him for a very long while before rolling back onto my back, placing my own arms beneath my head this time. "Do you think it would have been different for all of us had we told them about ourselves?"

Hector was still and quiet, resuming his view of the stars. "Yup." Was all he said for the remainder of the night…

That night, I was sitting in the recliner in his living room while he was in the office playing a game. I had gotten tired of watching the simplicity of the game's strategy and was lucky to have breached a writing craving. So I found myself sitting in his recliner with a notepad and pen in my hand, writing lyrics to a song I hoped to eventually sing with my band back home.

: Such is mine in my own distress…

Ugh! I smacked my head and scratched out the words. I remember thinking about how cheesy and so last year that line of lyrical structure had been, but I also remember that there had also been a distraction as I was writing. I remember rolling around in full clothing, tangling my body and Hector's in a pool of blankets on my old bed; the bed I had owned when I had still lived here last year. Our tongues were twisting, but his one rule had been to never touch there until he was ready. Not that he didn't trust me. Not that he didn't love me. Just that he didn't want to just yet. I understood and respected that, thought I guess part of me had been disappointed…

I couldn't stand the memories of us, however, and it took a great load not to throw my notebook and pen and scream. Instead, I took my items and I went upstairs to his room and crawled underneath the blankets on the bottom bunk of his bunk bed and I closed my eyes, ignoring my surroundings.

The next morning, Saturday, – day before my sixteenth birthday and day of the Holiday dance – and I woke up to Hector's golden Labrador Silver's tongue licking my ear over and over again. Above me, Hector was laughing at my situation from the top bunk. I simply crawled out of bed, slung a pillow at Hector's face, and marched out of the room to take my morning shower. Once out, Hector met me at the door and said, "Grab your bags. You ready?"

"Ready for what?" I asked him, running all the possibilities to be ready for as I did as he ordered and zipped up my suitcases.

Hector simply smiled and walked off mischievously and I followed with a fixed face of confusion. He led me out the door and around the house surrounded with trees to his garage. He threw open the door and revealed a royal blue-colored Dodge truck. Hector caught my attention next by dangling a key from a keychain held loosely in his fingers.

As the truck roared down the dirt roads with my suitcases in the bed, we ran through 'the game plan'. "So I'm going to swing you by Imperial, and you're going to do what?" Hector asked me, rarely moving his eyes from the road as we began to pass the nuclear plant located only about a mile away from Hector's house.

"I'm going to be working at the Imperial Garden from three to eight and then I'm going to head over to Gomez's house to shower and get ready, assuming that you'll be dropping off my bags after you've dropped me off?"

Hector nodded, "Done and done, Lee."

"And you'll be picking me up there at about eight-thirty?" Then I asked, "What will you be doing in these next five hours?"

"Oh, I've got some plans of my own. Nothing to concern you, Lee, if you don't mind."

I shrugged, "Whatever, man."

At the Imperial Garden – the most popular Chinese restaurant around, and former employer of myself – I walked through the door and surprised the hell out of my coworkers and after a moment of catching up with them, I soon found myself dishing up hot dinners for waiting customers.

"So Lee," my boss, Bryan, began as he whipped the wok of sweet-and-sour chicken into the air over a roaring flame, "how did it work out between you and that one girl, um, Steph?"

I kicked up my own batch of chicken and scooped it onto a plate and brought it over to the rice box before answering, "Luckily," I began, "we're still friends, but we did break up at the end of October."

Bryan scowled and Russ walked up behind him with a smirk and I found myself confused for a moment. Bryan reached into his pocket and pulled out a ten-dollar bill and handed it over his shoulder to Russ. They both smiled and soon laughed and I bit my bottom lip as I gave out the chicken order to the customer and I shook my head, "Yeah, yeah, and really funny, guys. Let me not remind you that I'm the customers' favorite employee here and you guys are just the 'assholes who give me crap'."

They both immediately stopped laughing and glared at me and I found myself laughing harder than I had in a really long time at this.

At about six o'clock, we found ourselves eating our own dinners while Fox News aired their live broadcasts to us. "So what are your plans then, Lee? I mean, in general." Bryan asked me, picking at his crab-rangoons.

"Well… tonight I have Holiday and then I'm going back to Hector's, I guess." I said these words slowly, because I'll admit that I didn't quite understand what he meant by the 'in general' part of his question.

"And how do you think Holiday is going to go?"

"I don't know," and I didn't, "I guess it'll go ok, but then again, Hector's mom said we have to be home at ten or we're in trouble."

"That's only like an hour to be there, though!" Bryan said, setting his plate aside as his eyes enlarged in surprise.

"That's what we said!" And we had!

"Tell you what though," Bryan said, drawing a piece of scratch paper and a pen from his pocket, "I'm writing down my cell number here. If things get a little boring at the dance, I want you to call me and I'll take you to Lincoln for some real fun."

I took the piece of paper and looked at it curiously. "What do you have in mind?"

Russ shook his head, "You aren't really thinking about bringing him to the strip club, are you?"

"I could get him in," Bryan said to my surprise.

"Oh yeah, how?"

"Amber." Bryan said confidently.

Russ smiled and laughed at him before looking to me, "You aren't seriously considering that are you, Lee?"

I looked back at Russ with an expression of concern. "I don't know… I mean, it wouldn't be that traumatizing, would it?" I looked back to Bryan, "But only if it gets boring, ok?"

The time came for me to get out of there and Russ very kindly drove me to Andrew Gomez's house. I walked up to the door without knowing exactly what I was pulling myself into. The door opened and Mrs. Gomez greeted me nicer than I think anyone ever has. She and Andrew crowded around me, asking me if they could do as many nice things as possible to help me get ready before leading me to the bathroom. They showed me where everything was and took my dress clothes to have them ironed.

I probably said 'thank you' a thousand times in the ten minutes I was there.

Hector met me at eight-thirty perfectly, dressed in a black suit with a red rose in his left hand given to me (story too long for me to write in a short story… sorry if I got your hopes up for an explanation) and we were off after a couple of photos.

We arrived at the dance and Trent met me in line and threw an arm around my shoulders as he talked to me about how fun tonight was going to be. I just couldn't help but get the feeling that there was something very wrong coming at me, and these thoughts already killed my concentration as Trent spoke to me. More friends grouped around me, and Hector soon became agitated and left to go find his own friends. I wanted to go after him – I also wanted to scream at him and tell him my true feelings for him, but I'd save that for a different place and time – but the comfort of being around so many of my other close friends kept me from moving anywhere but closer to the gym where music blasted and people danced.

The dance DJ was a new-guy, so I interpreted by the occasional skip in the music, but whatever. This was a formal dance; we didn't need quality in the rap music anyway. I tagged along with Trent for the beginning, talking with people I've never met or didn't see at school yesterday.

Then, the first slow dance came about half an hour into it. To my surprise, almost immediately my shoulder was tapped and I turned. Behind me, my cousin Jade stood with her hands behind her back and she rocked back on her heels. "Dance with me, Lee, we have some catching up to do."

I thought the idea to be pretty amusing, but didn't care because I knew that everybody else knew we were cousins. So, I took her right hand in my left and placed my right hand on her waist while she situated her left hand to my shoulder. About thirty seconds into the slow song, she broke our silence. "You've been working out."

I blushed and let out a quick laugh at this unexpected comment before nodding, "What can I say? You look absolutely beautiful Jade," I smirked and knew I had to say the follow-up: "It's so not like you."

She laughed and gave me a light punch on the arm. "Yeah well, the Gothic thing just wasn't working for me… or the Catholic school, so I decided to take a turn for the better this year."

"Hector told me your whole being changed, but I didn't think of it like this after the hell you went through over the summer."

"Yeah," she was quiet for a moment as I spun her, "But enough about me… sort of."

"Sort of?"

"Look," she said, taking a long breath as we shifted left, right, back, forward, left, right… "I want to apologize. I was…"

I shushed her and shook my head. "It's nobody's fault. Let's just forget about that entirely, ok?"

She did stop and looked away from me. "This song's almost over. I'm going to go now." And before I could speak much more than 'dur… dah… de… but…' she was gone.

By this time, it was already nearing nine-forty-five, but lucky for me Adam negotiated with his mom to give us until eleven instead of the previous ten, so I wasn't rushing as badly to get into a conversation and get out. In other words, I now had some time to dance with some friends to the beats of whatever music was booming. I grinded with my best girl friend Jess to rap music, moshed to the rock, and even did a little 'honky-tonk' (most retarded terminology, and I even wonder if I used that term correctly…) to country… my least favorite in the music world.

But soon, my mind began to distract me again and I couldn't help but find myself wondering if Hector was ok. I hadn't seen him since we split directions at the registry line… So, I did just what anyone else would've done; I set away from my friends to find someone beyond friendship to me.

I guess it wasn't as hard as I expected it would be to find him, or at least not as hard as I figured. With just a bit of asking around, I found him sitting with elbows on knees and a Mountain Dew bottle sitting limply between his fingers. The blue tie I loaned him on his black suit hung loosely around his neck and he seemed dazed. Usually I'd think he was drunk, but I knew him better than that.

I sat down close beside him so that he could hear me at normal speaking voice. "Have you danced any?"

There was a silence so long that it made me worry for a moment if maybe he was dead on me or something, but his blink every now and then reminded me of a time when I walked in on him meditating on his bed. Hector eventually shook his head to get himself back to reality and he looked at me and smiled, "Sorry about that. Um… not a lot. Nikki had me dance with her at that song you danced with Jade to. Other than that, well, I'm only here because I knew how much it meant to you."

I thought for a moment, "Come to think of it, I've never seen you dance before."

"It's because I can't." Hector said and even through the strobe lights I saw that he was beginning to blush.

"Come on, Hector," I said, climbing to my feet with his hands in mine, "we'll dance in the bathroom if we have to. But one way or the other, you and I have to dance before we go anywhere."

Then, as if a gift from God (you know, the guy I used to think hated me… yeah, him), Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day began with its enticing acoustic strumming. I quickly led Hector to the tall curtains behind the photo booth where I knew nobody would be going and I took both of his hands in mine and our fingers entwined as our hands fell down by our waists. He moved close to me almost immediately and laid his head on my shoulder and I lost to my own temptation and laid my own head on his. Slowly, ever so slowly, Hector and I swayed to the music as I sang gently to him with my eyes closed.

: Summer has come and passed, the innocent can never last

Wake me up when September ends

Like my father's come to pass, seven years has gone so fast

Wake me up when September ends

Here comes the rain again, falling from the stars

Drenched in my pain again, becoming who we are

As my memory rests, and never forgets what I lost

Wake me up when September ends

During the opening instrumental, Hector lifted his head and looked into my eyes before kissing me gently on my lips. "You're going to leave me tomorrow, Lee."

"No," I said, allowing myself to smile as he rested his head on my shoulder, "No, I'm not going to leave you, Hector. I'll always be here, when you need me."

"But we will see each other again, right?" He asked, his voice very serious.

"Of course, Hector, of course."

: Summer has come and passed, the innocent can never last

Wake me up when September ends

Ring out the bells again, like we did when spring began

Wake me up when September ends

Here comes the rain again, falling from the stars

Drenched in my pain again, becoming who we are

As my memory rests but never forgets what I lost

Wake me up when September ends

During the next instrumental, Hector kissed me once more as all around us strobe lights flickered and couples danced. It was almost as if all of this were scripted, even for this one moment, and I couldn't have loved it all more. I was just happy that it was with him…

The never-ending motion of our tongues ceased me from finishing the song, but maybe it was better that way. Maybe the song was never meant to end.

: Summer has come and passed, the innocent can never last

Wake me up when September ends

Like my father's come to pass, twenty years has gone so fast

Wake me up when September ends

Here comes the rain again, falling from the stars

Drenched in my pain again, becoming who we are

As my memory rests, but never forgets what I lost

Wake me up when September ends…

The next morning, out of irony or dumb luck, it was raining outside as Hector stood by his truck and watched me get into my mother's truck. I could tell he was crying, but thanks to the rain, my mother didn't notice. I didn't want to talk about us more than I needed, because she didn't know any of that part of my life. As we drove out of the Nebraska City city limits, I nearly cried when – of all songs on the damned radio – Wake Me Up When September Ends began to play. I really did wonder at that moment if I would ever see Hector again, but I knew that whether or not I did, I would never forget about him. Never.

I want to thank you for reading this, and allowing me to be the writer I am today. All of you are what makes me… me. I love you all, and I hope to hear from you soon!