David did not anticipate a spring in his own life. He watched Leo and Franny become closer. He watched his father, Douglas, take back his place at the center of the Pine Street community, living in Marilyn’s old house with David. He watched Allison renovate her green house.
Everyone was moving on but him.
In order to escape the growing claustrophobia that threatened to overcome him whenever he saw two or three of the Pine Street friends laughing, talking, or walking without him, David planned a weekend away. Although he knew his father would support his need for a vacation, he did not tell Douglas about his plans.
David rose early that fall morning, left a note for his dad, hoisted a backpack onto his shoulder, and walked to the shuttle bus stop. About four hours later, David stepped off another bus in his old neighborhood in Seattle. He turned, scanned he sidewalk, oriented himself to the busy streets, turned his coat collar up against the rain.
Not rain. No, this was classic Seattle drizzle: steady, cold, nearly invisible. A wetness you breathed rather than saw, one that you drew into your bones with every inspiration.
“David! Over here!” The friend he’d craved a visit with, the one who had invited him as soon as he explained his situation on the phone, stood on the corner, waving. He took three long strides and they were beside one another.
Then, an awkward hug as David bent to his friend’s height, and tried to prevent his backpack from swinging forward.
Then, an even more awkward kiss.
As it turned out, Kassandra and David did have history. David was not the “D.J.” of her summer story. Indeed, David was ten years older than Kassandra, and was not near the lake of the summers of her youth.
“Hello, Sasha,” he said.
But he had met Sasha, many years after she had walked out of Kassandra’s life. A short relationship, ended by him, followed by a longer friendship, kept alive by her. In hopes, David believed, that the romance might be rekindled, at some point.
Hardly likely, now that he’d met Franny, but that wasn’t something he was ready to share.
In his emails and texts, he’d mentioned the barista on Pine Street who seemed too nice to everyone, Kassandra. Sasha replied, I knew a Kassandra once. Wouldn’t it be weird if this was the same one?
A quick photo snapped and texted, Sasha’s response, and David had a source of inside information on the barista. He’d hoped he could use it to gain further acceptance from that group, but no. They were insulated against him in every way.
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