"JAMES MATHEWS". that's what was written. I knelt down and placed the lily by the grave. I hoped it's be ok in the crisp autumn air. My friend tapped me on the shoulder. We had been there for about an hour now and it was getting colder by the minute. I said one last prayer and stood up. The two of us started to head back to the road, hands in our coat pockets. It was really quiet out. The kind of quiet that made your very breathe seem loud.
"Hey, you alright?" she asked me, in such a gentle voice as if not to upset me.
"Yeah," I said quickly but softly.
There was another moment of silence. The flowers along the path were already wilting, and gave a very depressing feeling. I did my best not to give in and cry. It was hard not to though. I suppose if I had been alone I would have. She reached to me and jabbed me lightly.
"So, changing subjects, how long has it been since you guys seen each other? About year now? Probably about a year. You should be eager to see him. Ya know?" this time she seem more relax.
"Yeah. I am eager. But..." I tried not to but I ended up glancing back at the grave. "Anyway, yeah. It's been awhile."
"Is he visiting too?"
"No. Well I don't think so. They never really knew each other."
"Oh right, right. I see." She bit her lip, a habit she's has whenever we talk about difficult topics.
"He was a friend." I said, her head jerked up, and was all ears. "Say, you ever heard of a story about a girl named Alexa?"
"Hm." She paused a moment and looked at me, " Naw, I haven't." She stopped walking and sat down by a tree and nodded me to come and sit by her. "How's it go?"
"Well." I told her sitting down beside her, "Picture a little town but not too little. And on the outskirts of the town, a huge bridge. And on the other side of the bridge, opposite from the little town, a convenience store."
Alexa was a smart kid, but lack motivation. Her grades were poor and often she was scolded. But every time a teacher yelled at her, she merely apologized and continued to do her best at doing nothing. She found it hard to believe that she could even pass the grade. Despite having a reputation for purposely slacking off in class, Alexa was still the kind of person to flinch when yelled at. It's not like she liked the bad grades but the topics were pointless. Most of the time, she would sit and stare at something outside. If the classroom had no windows she would read the labels of boxes or something. Every once in awhile, the class would talk about something interesting, and only then would she listen.
Lunch was even worse. It was the longest and most irritating time of the day. The food was awful, kids screaming at the top of their lungs, and the occasional touching someone's used gum under the table. Though, even she would admit, it was the one time of the day to focus on the real important things that any 16 year old would find important.
"Alexa! Hey! Over here!" yelled a girl with curly brown hair, who nearly mauled everyone over to get where she was going.
"Hey. Long time no see. How was that trip you and your family went on?" Alexa asked resting her head the table.
"Ah man, it was so annoying." She rolled her eyes and kept shifting herself in her seat, like a little kid who can't keep still. "See, when we got to our hotel, this guy was like, 'Oh sorry but the key to your room was broken' or something and gosh, it was horrible. And my parents are total nut heads. They kept saying stuff like, look on the brighter side, and crap." Alexa basically stared out into nothing and kept nodding only half listening to what she was saying. It wasn't like she hated listening to her, but Nina Victoriano sure could talk a lot. Even though she could talk for hours she was also a good listener. Of course, that was if you could even get a word in. Besides that little detail, Nina was Alexa's best friend. They met one day while walking to school. Nina had broke her leg after tripping over a power cord during one the school's plays. Alexa had volunteered to help carry her school bag during that time, and before you knew it, they were friends.
Most days, Alexa would just head home after school, while other kids went and hung out. It really wasn't something she found 'fun'. But that didn't mean Alexa never had fun. Just not the kind of fun others would expect. Actually, she found the things other did to be completely pointless. She found many things to be pointless, but if you asked her, she'd tell you it was her parents' fault. Her parents weren't the best of parents to put it lightly. It wasn't like she hated them, they just had issues. In the past there were many problems and since about two years ago, Alexa had lived with her older sister, Megan.
Megan was really your typical hard working twenty year old. She was more like a parent to Alexa then even her own parents. Yet, at the same time, was someone who would be glad to pile blankets on the floor, and watch old scary movies with while talking about guys. But really, what girl wouldn't?
The two of them lived not far from Alexa's school. Alexa walked to and from almost everyday. Most of the time, she would come home to an empty house. It didn't bother her so much. She was pretty used to it by now. Megan worked the second shift at a restaurant. Alexa found the emptiness quite calming. The stillness in the air cleared away all pointless thoughts. She found it to be the one time of the day, where she could sit and merely listen to her own thoughts, instead of the thoughts of others.
She made herself a sandwich and pulled a chair up to the table and looked through the magazines that had been sitting there for about a week. The people in the ad looked so happy and cheerful, so much Alexa ended up throwing the thing away. Just looking at the phoniness of it made her sick. She spent most of her even reading some books and watching television, and of course, blowing off any school work.
It was around ten at night, and the sound of a car engine was in the driveway. Alexa counted the seconds it took from the moment the headlights turned off, to the moment the door opened. Not like she had anything better to do. Eighteen seconds was as far as she got when the door opened and Megan stepped inside. There were shadows under her eyes and she dropped her stuff on the kitchen table, nearly missing the edge of the table.
"Tough night I take it." Alexa started trying not to sound to blunt.
"You have no clue." She wobbled her way over the couch and nudged me over and plopped herself right down. "What have you been doing these days?" Normally Megan would talk about her own day before ever asking Alexa, it was clear something wasn't right. Alexa didn't think too much of it though.
"Not much. Just flunking school. Ya know, same old same old." She picked at the dirt under her nails waiting for her to respond.
"Hey kiddo, listen to me closely. Some stuff has come up and my pay might be cut somewhat." She said it while staring at the tv. "At the moment it's not a problem but, maybe you should think about getting a job."
"Nope." Alexa responded
"What?" Megan gave her a sharp glare.
"Right, right, I'm kidding. I'll see about it this week." With that she got up and headed to her room. That was the end of that conversation. The following morning, she got up early and took a bus around town and checked out different places. It was pretty hard finding work when there was really no help needed. She kind of spaced out just enough that she ended up missing her stop. The bus headed towards the bridge. Alexa looked out the window and stared out at the water below. It was really high up and sun that reflected against the water gave it such a gentle, almost magical feeling. Finally on the other side of the bridge, Alexa got off. She found herself in front of a little convenience store. She nearly walked by it carelessly until she saw a 'HELP WANTED' sign in the window. She wrote down the address and caught the next bus heading back to town.
That next day was a Saturday, so she decided to check out the little store and see about getting a job. She got off the bus and walked through the front door. An old, but not too old, woman was at the counter.
"Can I help you?" She asked. She had a nice smile and neatly done hair. There was something about her that was just pleasant.
"Uh yeah. I was wondering if I could get a job?" They talked for a little bit and she agreed to give her the job. It was kind of obvious they really needed the help. She was just about to leave when a guy walked in carrying some boxes.
"Oh excuse me." he said. He was wearing this really odd looking hat. It was navy blue and fuzzy, with a string coming out of the top of it that had a smiley face on the end. Alexa nearly laughed when she saw it.
"Oh good you're here." The woman, who's name Alexa found out to be, Nancy, call out. "This here is Alexa. She's gonna be working here starting tomorrow."
"Oh really?" He placed the boxes down and reached out to shake my hand. "Nice to meet you Alexa. They call me Sunny." He made a really big smile. She shook his hand and gently smiled back.
Alexa got on the bus and headed back to her sisters house. As she crossed the bridge, she saw some ducks chasing each other around in the water. It made her laugh. She was in a good mood. She had no idea why, but for the first time she was quite excited to go and work.