(Disclaimer: I do not own The Catcher in the Rye. That is owned by J.D. Salinger.)

Lost in the Rye

This wasn't where he wanted to be. Lost in a crowd of damn business people in stuffy suits, trampling around just to catch the 6:00 train. That was what was on the mind of Stephen Clark before he got on the train to get to school. As soon as he got on, he walked over to the first seat he could find and plopped down with a large thud. Then he let out a long sigh. Another day, another portion of my life being wasted on a corrupt education system.

He was twenty-one years old, and already his life was starting to get dull. He wasn't in love with his girlfriend, he was struggling just to get by, trying to fulfill his father's dream of being an architect, and the girl he wanted to be with was somewhere else in the country. Stephen put a hand through his chestnut hair and stared listlessly at the window with his pale blue eyes.

There wasn't much to see, really; all that was there were just a boring old city, a boring old sky, and boring old people living out their dull and uninteresting lives. And yet the fact still remained; at least they were happier than Steven. If you looked closely at him, you could see that Stephen was not exactly Mr. Cheerful or other crap like that. Well, sure; he was very friendly to everyone he met and was at the top of his class. But how often was Stephen allowed to have fun and to do the things he wanted? Never. It was always, "Be an architect like your damn father, why don't you!" or "You're never around to pick me up on time for our date!" At times, he wanted to just shoot everybody. And yet he didn't do it. One, he wasn't too fond of blood on his fingers. Two, he just wasn't a violent type of person. But that couldn't stop him from imagining it.

After making sure nobody was watching him, Stephen pulled out a copy of The Catcher in the Rye from his black jacket pocket. Then he turned to a random page and began reading. It wasn't that great of a book, Catcher in the Rye. It tended to drag at times, and Holden Caulfield tended to get on his nerves. But Stephen couldn't help but feel a bit of pity and remorse for the character. I mean, the guy lost his brother when he was thirteen, couldn't hold onto a girl for very long, and he was treated like crap all the time. It sort of reminded Stephen of himself (except for the "losing my kid brother at thirteen" part; he didn't even have a younger brother). That was why he kept carrying the book with him all the time. Whenever he got the chance, he would read certain parts that he really liked. Sometimes he wouldn't read it at all; just keep it in his pocket and move on with what he was doing. He liked feeling the book on his body; it made him feel less down about himself and kind of made him feel tingly inside. There weren't too many books that made him do that.

After ten or so minutes, Stephen put the book back in his pocket and lay back in his seat; he felt like resting for a few minutes before he got to school. However, as soon as he closed his eyes, he heard a familiar voice scream loudly in his ear. "STEVIE!! OH STEVIE!!" Stephen jumped in his seat. Was that…? He thought to himself. "Nah, it's just my imagination," he mumbled. "STEVIE! I'VE FINALLY FOUND YOU!!" Before he had the time to look up, a familiar copper-haired girl forcefully grabbed him in a bear hug and started kissing his face repeatedly. When he opened his eyes, Stephen saw the pale green eyes of Kathleen Kane, his girlfriend of three years, beaming brightly at him. He also noticed the people in the train staring at him with disgust and amusement. One old lady in particular scoffed in disgust and muttered "Teenagers" under her breath. Katie kissed Stephen on the lips and exclaimed, "Hey cutie! I've been looking everywhere for you!"

"Hey, Katie baby, could you do me one itsby bitsy favor?" She nodded quickly. "Could you PLEASE get off me before you strangle me to death?" Realizing that Stephen was being crushed, Katie backed off, allowing Stephen a moment to catch his breath. After he caught his breath, Stephen glared angrily at Katie. "You want to explain why you're on this train, and how you found me here?" Katie sighed and looked down at her shoes. "I, uh, wanted to see you because I love you." These last words rung in Stephen's ears. His angry look was replaced with a gloomy one.

"Katie, I…" He clutched the Catcher book in his jacket pocket. "Why do you keep doing this?" Katie frowned. "Doing what?" She whispered. Stephen shook his head. "You know; following me wherever I go and crazy stuff like that. Why are you doing that?" Tears started falling from her face. "Because I miss you…" Her voice seemed strained and sad. "Why do you have to keep going to college all the time? I want you here…with me." She took Stephen's free hand and put it on her heart. "Don't you hear my bleeding heart, Stephen? It's crying; calling out to you. I need someone to love me and be there for me. Don't you understand that?!" Finally, she broke down and started sobbing uncontrollably. "Oh, Stephen!" She hugged Stephen and started sobbing in his jacket. "Why can't you understand how much I care about you?"

"Because he doesn't love you." Stephen froze. That voice sounded familiar to him. Why on earth couldn't he remember? As the mysterious person came closer, Stephen almost gaped as he realized who it was. "Hayley Brown?" Stephen clutched his book even tighter, even as his fingers got red and his knuckles became sore. Hayley swished her long, blonde hair and stared lovingly at him with her grey eyes. "Stephen…" Then she turned to Katie. "Look, kid. I don't know who you are or what you think you're doing to that man. But I can see that he doesn't want to be near you at the moment, so I'd appreciate it if you could just back away and leave him alone." At hearing these words, Katie rose up and growled angrily. "What's it to you, bitch?! How in the hell do you know him?" Hayley sighed. "Because I dated the man. At least until seven years ago." Katie dramatically gasped and put a hand to her mouth. She slapped Stephen across the face. "You jerk! How could you lie to me like that?" Stephen sighed. "Look, Katie; that all happened before you came along. I didn't want to tell you because…well, you're kind of possessive." And he wasn't lying. Katie was a jealous person who only cared about her happiness before anything else. No matter where Stephen went, Katie always had to tag along. She would consistently call him at random times to make sure he was okay, an annoyance that continued into college. "Katie, you need to let me live my own life for once and leave me in peace! I'm too damn sad all the time, and you're one of the main reasons! I don't mean to be rude, but please leave me alone!"

Katie froze in shock. "What did you just say, Stephen Clark?" She said in an icy tone. Stephen pulled out his Catcher book and held it in his hands. "Why can't you start looking at how phony our relationship is becoming and start thinking about how I feel about all this?!" Katie went in a state of madness. "DAMN YOU, STEPHEN CLARK! THOSE ARE GONNA BE THE LAST WORDS YOU EVER SPEAK!" She raised her hand to slap him, but was stopped short by Hayley. "Look, I've seen enough Let Stephen go, alright?" Hayley said in a frustrated yet peaceful tone. Katie turned around and slapped Hayley across the face. "You shut up! You think I'm gonna listen to some slut who got it on with my BF? I don't think so!" A sad look appeared on Hayley's face. She held Katie's hand in hers. "Katie, please stop this fighting. Look, I am 25 years old, only 7 years older than you. But you are the only one acting immaturely here. There's a way to act and talk around people, even if you're mad about something." She put a finger through Katie's hair and stroked it. "A young and beautiful woman like you shouldn't be acting in such a childish and ridiculous manner. Stephen is a grown man with his own problems and dilemmas. You didn't make it any better for him by slapping him across the face, did you?" Katie shook her head. "No." She whispered. "Then why don't you come with me, so we can talk about these things woman to woman?" Katie scratched the back of her head shyly and said, "Okay." The people who had been watching the incident now went back to their seats. Then, after Katie sat down, Hayley walked over to where Stephen was sitting, a hand on the place where Katie had slapped him. "Are you gonna be okay?" Stephen silently nodded. Then, he added, "How did you find me?" "I had come back to go to my cousin's place when I found you here."

Hayley sadly smiled at Stephen, and he returned the exchange. It may have been seven years, but Hayley was still as charming as ever. Stephen was tempted to kiss her, to relive the same feelings he had felt all those years ago. But he knew all too well of the time now past, of how long it had been since he first laid eyes on this beautiful woman standing before him. Yet he knew their love could never be. It had been heartbreaking to see her go away to college, and she never contacted him at all after they were separated. Stephen considered their relationship to be over, and he did not want to pursue it any further. The thought made him sad, but he knew it was the right thing to do; move on with his life. That didn't mean it made him feel any happier, though.

Hayley and Katie got off at the next stop. After waving a tearful goodbye, Stephen just stood there in the train, thinking about all that had just happened. He looked at his book and sighed. He remembered a line that Holden talked about in Chapter 23: "If a body catch a body, comin' thorough the rye." Steven pictured himself as a simple boy, lost in the terrifying world of adulthood, with nowhere to run to. Maybe that was what he was, a kid lost in the rye.

Maybe all Stephen needed was a catcher in the rye to rescue him. But would he ever come? Would it be too late? Would he fall into a dark abyss and disintegrate into dust? Or would he be saved by a great catcher in the rye?

(A/N: I know the story hangs at the end, leaving many unanswered questions. But that was my initial idea behind the ending; leave it up to the readers to decide for themselves what happens to Clark and his love life. However, I am expecting many flames as a result of this sad and confusing ending, so here is my solution: if enough people comment about wanting a continuation of this story, then I will consider doing it. It may not come soon, due to all of the work and stress going on right now, but I can find time for it. Keep reading to your heart's content, and to all those writers, keep writing!!)