I sometimes look back at that evening in Mac’s yard. Summer starting, and so many other things ending. School out, time to move on to the big, wide world beyond. There’s a photograph tucked in a box somewhere in my closet. The eight of us. Fat Hal Lennox acting like he’s going to toss Mickey in the pool. Kyra held aloft, laughing, on the shoulders of Ali and Zack. Will Harris at the side, raising his bottle at the camera like a brandy snifter. And Stacey flinging herself at me like she’s not sure whether to put me in a headlock or kiss me.

Kids, graduating from nothing much to nothing at all, life at its brightest and most goddamn stupid.

They cut Mickey out of the wreckage of his car three months later. Wrapped it round a tree on the Richboro road, trying to impress a couple of girls he nearly killed alongside him. Ali and Kyra lived together for a while. Then he moved to New York and became a suit. She married, had a kid, divorced, works teaching English to the next batch of clones off the same conveyor produced us. Neighbors found Hal in his bathtub two years ago. I still see Zack around town, but his eyes, hell his whole body, gone dull and faded through drink. Don’t think he recognises me, or if he does, then we’re both pretending like we don’t. I heard Will was put away for armed robbery not long after we all graduated. Stacey… Stacey was here, and now she’s gone.

I still think about her, now and again. Even after everything, all that happened, and all that’s passed since then. You never forget. Even if you want to. Wonder where she is, what she’s doing. If she’d talk to me. If she’d be happy to see me if I showed up, or if memory of what we had and what we didn’t would make her kick me to the curb all over again.

No bigger barrier to overcome than the long stretch of your own history, and the gulf between what you are now and what you once hoped you’d become.

I take out that photo, just sometimes. Eight strangers looking back at me from the past, and I’m one of them.

By me. “Wakes” is (intended to be) an occasional-regular writing exercise, fragments out of nothing, inspired in part by whatever cycles through iTunes as I sit down to work.

Wake 3: 'With Me' - Sum 41