Will scooped a handful of sand. “This is life.” He raised his hand, sand leaking between his fingers. “No matter how hard you try, time slips away. I won’t let that happen to me.”
“How can you leave?” Heather wiped away a tear.
“I’ve got to chase my dreams while I can.”
She grasped his hand, forcing more grains from his grip. “Time isn’t the only thing that can slip away.”
“Come with me.” He caressed her blonde locks. “You don’t have to stay in the shelter.”
Her voice cracked. “I can’t turn my back on them. They need me…and you.”
Heather stacked the dishes, her vacant gaze without focus.
“You okay?” Valerie set the mail bin on a table.
“He sent you something.” Valerie held out an envelope.
Heather bounded across the kitchen, snatching the letter from her friend.
Washington is beautiful, so many trees. I have an audition with a band, it’s the break I’ve been waiting for.
She clutched the note to her chest, a tear tracing the contour of her cheek.
Valerie hugged the younger girl. “He’s not coming home, is he?”
Heather shook her head, burying her face into Valerie’s shoulder.
Heather sat at a table near the back of the dining hall. The scratching of her pen echoed through the early morning hours:
Things aren’t the same without you. Mrs. Hawkins says lunch doesn’t taste right when you’re not playing the piano. How I wish you were here with me.
“You’re here awful early.” Valerie turned on the kitchen lights.
Valerie began her morning routine. “Didn’t mean to startle you.”
“I wanted to write Will before I got busy.” Heather tied her apron.
Valerie studied her friend. “You’ve been sulking around for weeks. We’re having a party in a couple weeks. You should come and socialize.”
“I’m not really…”
“Nonsense,” Valerie interrupted. “I’ll come get you if I have to.”
“Big crowd today.” Valerie shuffled through the mail.
Heather heaved a sigh. “I know.”
“You coming to the party?”
Heather didn’t respond.
Valerie waved an envelope. “It’s from him.” She tucked it under her arm. “Promise you’ll be there tonight and you can have it.”
“You brat.” Heather laughed, reaching for the letter. “Alright, I’ll go. Now give it to me.”
The lights in Vegas are amazing. I heard they need show musicians. Wish me luck.
Thinking of you,
Heather sat in the corner, gazing out the window with an emotionless expression.
“Party’s are supposed to be fun,” an unfamiliar voice said. “I’m Jim. You must be Heather.”
“Valerie’s told me how much you help at the shelter. I could use someone like you at my restaurant.”
The young lady smiled. “I’m sorry, I can’t abandon them.”
“Maybe we could catch dinner?” Jim inquired.
Heather glanced away.
“Ah, a boyfriend.” Jim shifted his weight. “If you were my girlfriend, I’d be here with you.”
My precious Will,
I pray you catch your dreams. Jim says I deserve somebody here for me. I miss you so much.
Heather wiped down the tables.
“Did I miss lunch?”
She looked up. “Jim, what are you doing here?”
“It’s been a month; have you reconsidered?” He smiled.
Heather stayed silent.
“Here’s my number, just in case.” He slid a card into her hand.
She ran into the kitchen.
“What’s wrong?” Valerie asked.
“I’m so confused.” Heather’s voice cracked. “What should I do?”
Valerie held an envelope. “Maybe this will help.”
I’ve got a gig in L.A. It’s my big chance. I promise some day I’ll come get you.
Heather crumpled the paper, eying the number on the card. Her hands trembled as she dialed the phone. “Jim? I’ve changed my mind.”
“Dinner was great.” Heather beamed. “I’ve never eaten at such a nice place.”
“Being the owner has its advantages.” He walked her to his car. “I was hoping you’d come to my place.” He traced her cheek with his finger.
Heather drew back. “I barely know you.”
“You don’t understand.” Jim grabbed her wrists. “I always…”
“It sounds like she’s not interested.”
“Will!” Heather gasped
Will pulled Jim away from the young lady. “You better leave.”
Jim sped off.
Heather fell into his arms.
“I’ve spent all this time chasing the dream,” he said. “And it was right here all the time.”
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