Sarah woke up the next morning, took a shower,
and got dressed before even realizing that she didn't have to go to work.
She changed out of her work shirt and into a more casual shirt and sat
at her computer. She checked her mail, wrote a little of her stories,
and was about to turn on her stereo to listen to some music when the door
to her sister's room opened.
"Hey, sleepy head," she said, smiling at Brian as he looked out into the
"Hey. Who's banging on the walls?" He asked, yawning and rubbing
"That's my wonderful neighbors I tell you about, the ones who wake me up
at seven a.m. every morning," Sarah said, smiling.
"Oh yeah, them," he said. He leaned on the door jam and his eyes
closed. "I'm so tired," he said.
Sarah shrugged and looked at the computer
screen, typing. "Well, you can either sleep some more or you can
just stay awake, take your pick, you control what you do here," she said.
Brian's face turned into a wide smile and he opened his eyes. "You're
right, I do," he said. He came out into the room and up behind Sarah,
leaning on the back of the chair. "What'cha writin'?" He asked.
Sarah covered the screen with her hand and turned her head to him. "Nothing,"
she answered quickly.
Brian smiled a goofy smile and stood up straight. "Nothing I can
"Damn straight," Sarah said as he closed the bathroom door. She finished
up the paragraph she was on and put her computer on standby. She
walked into her room and turned on the stereo, putting on Z100, her favorite
station. It was just starting the song 'All Star' by Smashmouth,
one of her favorites.
"Hey now, you're an all star, get your game on, go play. Hey now,
you're a rock star, get your show on, get paid. And all that glitters
is gold. Only shootin' stars break the mold," she sang with it.
She grabbed her book and went into the living room and relaxed on one of
the beanbags, starting to read. She got so involved in her book,
she didn't hear Brian come out of the bathroom and she didn't see him starting
"Sarah!" Brian exclaimed as he jumped on the beanbag next to her.
"Ahh!" Sarah exclaimed, jumping. She looked next to her at
Brian, who was smiling brightly. "I cannot believe you just did that,"
"What? Surprised you?" He asked.
Sarah nodded and hit his head with her book lightly. "Yes, doofus,
scare the crap out of me, why don't you?" She asked hypothetically.
"Ok, I will, but later," Brian said. "I'm hungry," he announced.
Sarah looked at him over the top of the pages. "And? You aren't
getting any special treatment here, Mr. Pop Star. If you want something
to eat, there's the kitchen," she said, pointing back the way he'd come.
Brian leaned his head on her shoulder and looked up at her with big blue
eyes. "But Mommy said I'z not allowed to touch the stove, I could
get burned," he said in a childish voice.
Sarah laughed. "You always get what you want, don't you?" She
Brian nodded his head vigorously as they
both stood up. "Yup! And Mommy says I'm really cute when I
try!" He said, using the same voice.
Sarah laughed again and ruffled his curls. "You are cute, Littrell,
just don't over use it and it'll get you far in life."
"Hey, no one's ever called me that before," he said, following her into
"No, Littrell. No one has ever called me by my last name."
Sarah raised her eyebrows as she took out a frying pan and the carton of
eggs from the fridge, along with a few pieces of cheese. "Well, that's
standard calling around here, expect it from me, I always do," she said,
pulling a bowl out of the cabinet.
"What'cha making me?" He asked, leaning his head on her shoulder,
looking over as she brought out a fork.
"Cheese eggs, a.k.a. an omelet. Is that ok, Cheese man?" Sarah
asked, smiling at him as she cracked the eggs into the bowl.
"Sure, I like a lot of cheese, please," he said, unwrapping the cheese
by reaching around her waist.
"Fine, fine, I don't care, as long as it fits in the pan, that's all that
matters," Sarah said, scrambling the eggs. She made him his breakfast
and, after he complimented her and pigged out, she went into her room and
pulled on her sneakers.
"Where ya going?" Brian asked from the table.
"Nowhere yet, I just put on my shoes, that's all," Sarah said, sitting
in the living room.
Brian rinsed his plate and put it in the sink, then sat in the beanbag
next to her. "Sarah?"
"You're welcome, Brian."
Brian grinned at Sarah and she laughed. "You crack me up, Littrell,"
"I try," Brian said. He glanced at his watch and looked back up at
Sarah. "Is it ok if I take a shower?" He asked.
Sarah looked at him. "By all means. I don't want your stinky
body sitting around my house, feel free to do whatever you want around
here," she said.
Brian smiled at her again and went into the bathroom. Moments later,
Sarah heard the shower turn on. She stood up and went into her bedroom,
closing the door over behind her, and put in her Sarah McLaughlin
CD. She sang along with all the songs, forgetting totally about Brian.
She finished the song 'I
Will Remember You' and she heard a knock
on her door.
"That was beautiful," Brian said as she opened the door.
Sarah shook her head and blushed. "I'm not that good, I just sing
what I hear," she said modestly.
"No, really, you're good. Why aren't you out there sharing your gift
with everyone?" He asked.
Sarah shook her head. "I can't write songs, I can't write music,
and I can't get anywhere that I need to. I just gave up on that part,
I don't need to waste my time on my fantasy."
Brian shook his head at her. "You should never underestimate yourself,
believe in what you can do, I'm living proof that dreams come true," he
said as he turned away from her door.
"Yeah, you're one of the lucky ones, now aren't you?" She called
to him hypothetically as she closed her door. She laid on her bed
and closed her eyes.
'Wait a sec, Brian was wearing nothing but his boxers wow,' she thought.
She opened her eyes and glanced at her clock next to her bed, three o'clock.
She sat up and turned off her CD player, then walked out of her room and
over to her computer.
"You really like computers, huh?" Brian asked as she sat down.
She looked up at him as he came out of her sister's room, fully dressed
in a pair of shorts and a Nike T-shirt.
"Yeah, helps time pass quickly," Sarah replied, opening the Microsoft Word.
She sat back in her chair and wrote more to her story as Brian sat behind
her on one of the beanbags.
"Can I ask you a question?"
Sarah nodded, not looking away from the screen as she typed.
"What inspired you to first talk to me?"
Sarah shrugged. "I dunno, maybe that you seemed like such an interesting
person when I read your profile. I knew that there was something
different about you, something that drew me to you," she said.
"Why did you respond?"
"Because it was unreal, unusual for someone to write me a letter like that.
I'd read your profile and saw that you were a real person, not someone
looking for kicks. You made me laugh when I read your profile, I
figured that if you were that funny in a few lines, you'd be really funny
in real life. And I was right."
Sarah smiled at the computer screen and kept on typing, thinking.
"Where's your mom? I'd expect to see her."
"She went to see my sister at her college, she's having some problem there
and my mom went to help her. She's away for the week."
"And this is your vacation week?"
"Yup, no work, just relaxation."
"Kinda like me."
Sarah nodded slowly and finished the paragraph she was working on.
She saved the document and put her computer on standby, then turned to
face Brian. "Wanna go for a walk?" She asked.
Brian nodded and stood up, grabbing his hat and sunglasses then following
Sarah down the stairs. He took her hand in his when they reached
the bottom and walked down the block with her, neither speaking until they
arrived at the beach.
"Wow, there's so many people," Brian said, leaning on the rail.
Sarah nodded. "Yup, now you see why I hate coming here? Too
crowded, too noisy, and they're almost all rude. That and I hate
wearing a bathing suit," she said, leading him on a slow walk down the
boardwalk. She knew what she looked like, she knew she wasn't thin,
she knew she wasn't desirable by any guy simply because her body wasn't
beautiful. She didn't care about them any more, she only dressed
to impress herself, no one else.
"I wouldn't be able to handle all these people. Not only would I
probably get recognized, but there are too many people here, its too crowded
for me to enjoy myself, I need a big space," Brian said after a few moments
Sarah just smiled at him, not saying a word. They walked down the
boardwalk through the town and into the next town, which Sarah knew as
"Why is there almost no one here?" Brian asked.
"Because no one likes Ocean Grove, it's a sleepy town that is mostly inhabited
by the elderly and it's not that exciting. Too historic to be exciting,"
Brian nodded and followed Sarah's lead down a street and walked inland
for a block and a half before turning into a store.
"Hi, Kevin," Sarah said to the man behind the counter.
"Hey, Sarah, gosh, you get bigger every year, I still remember you being
that twig of a six year old!" The man said, smiling at Sarah.
He had a buzz cut of dark brown hair and brown eyes, standing about six
feet. Sarah and her family had known Kevin for a very long time,
he was an old family friend.
"I only wish I was that little six year old again," Sarah said with a smile.
She reached for the crispy M&Ms, her second favorite junk food and
glanced at Brian. "Go ahead and pick one out," she said. She
placed the bag of M&Ms on the counter and looked up at Kevin.
"How's the business so far this summer?"
"Pretty good, the more people who come here, the more people that discover
my little convenience store and the more business I get. Also, word
of mouth travels fast and with you coming in with a new friend every once
in a while, it goes even quicker."
"Well, I only bring friends with me because I don't like walking alone.
And as for the word spreading faster because of me, that's a bunch of bull,
I just tell everyone I see about the best little store in Ocean Grove that
I spent half my childhood in," Sarah said, looking at the ceiling and biting
"You're right, you spent half of your childhood in here, a quarter of it
in Freedman's, and the rest in the church."
"Yup yup, the church was very important to me, I liked being there too,"
Sarah said as Brian handed her a bag of regular M&Ms. "Is that
all you want? Are you sure?" She asked.
Brian nodded and kept his head low. Sarah looked around and spotted
the teenybopper magazines in the magazine racks with a few girls standing
in front of it, Brian and his friends on every cover.
"Doesn't he talk?" Kevin asked as he rang up the things on the counter
"He does, but he's shy around strangers," Sarah said quickly, paying.
"It was nice seeing you again, Kevin, I'll stop by again before the summer's
"Ok, Sarah, take care, and have a good summer."
Sarah nodded and waved as she walked out of the store with Brian.
She took his hand and started down the street lazily, but he pulled her
"Whoa, you're scared aren't you?" She asked, pulling him back to her.
Brian looked up at her with frightened eyes. "Very. Those girls
nearly recognized me, I was looking through the candy and was gonna pick
something when they walked in and straight to the magazines and started
talking a mile a minute about me. Me, Sarah, like I wasn't even there.
I mean, they didn't know I was there, I wasn't suppose to be there, but
it's really freaky when people know every single detail about you and your
life and you can't do anything about it," Brian said, talking quietly but
Sarah nodded and put her finger to his lips. "Shh, its ok, I understand,
calm down. We're away from them, they aren't going to come running
after you, its ok," she said. She remade her grip on his hand and
held his hand loosely as she continued down the street. She turned
on the corner and led Brian down a street called Pilgrim Pathway.
She reached a park and led him into the park. As they sat on a bench,
the pigeons flocked over to them for food, then went away when none appeared.
"This is where I spent a majority of my childhood, right here in Ocean
Grove, in this park," Sarah said, gesturing around. It was quiet
and peaceful, only one other person there, an old man sitting and reading
"Because this is where I was brought everyday during the summer.
I went to bible school across the street in the little chapel and then
walked to the church a few blocks away for play rehearsal. This is
my childhood, right before your eyes. My childhood that went by too
quickly for my own liking," Sarah said. She could almost see herself
and her friends running around the park, playing tag, then across the street
running in and out of the little chapel, carrying their crafts for the
day around, trying not to ruin them
before her mother came to pick her and her
sister up. Then she remembered the summer that she didn't go the
summer things started falling apart.
"Where's the church?" Brian asked.
Sarah smiled, snapping out of her train of thought. "That's our next
stop, after I show you this," she said, standing up. She walked hand
in hand with him through the park to the other side and to a partially
open sliding door of a large building.
"This is the Great Cathedral. Its more than a hundred years old and
one of the most important historic sights in Ocean Grove," she said, leading
him inside. It was slightly stuffy inside, but the air conditioning
was working quicker than usual and the performers on stage who were practicing
weren't dying from heat.
"I've performed in this place numerous times, night after night during
the August heat, after rehearsing for hours on end, I performed plays and
sang and smiled and danced for audiences of anywhere from one thousand
to thirty-five hundred people, each of them getting the performance of
their lives. The chorus and cast of anywhere from thirty to sixty-five
people, mostly children, worked hard every year, studying lines, learning
countless songs, and perfecting their stage presence. We've had people
here that were on Broadway and people that only wish they could be.
We've had many people that come here and perform their lives away simply
because they love it. I love the theatre, it's taught me a lot, and
right here is where I learned it."
"Its beautiful in here," Brian finally said, looking around. "You
know, whenever I'm in Kentucky and I visit places I haven't been to in
a long time, places that hold memories, I can feel the rush of nostalgia
hit me like a ton of bricks. Everything means so much to me, and
the more years that past, the more I forget, unfortunately," he said.
Sarah nodded. "I know what you mean. My first play ever, Peter
Pan, was here in this theatre. I was five years old, I couldn't even
read, yet I was performing for crowds of people that I didn't know how
numerous, all I knew was that I was making them happy. I barely remember
it, sadly, I just remember being a Lost Boy and being set free on stage
by Peter Pan on the pirate ship. I remember doing the little dance
we had to do and then running around and singing about how we were free
and that Peter was our hero. We sang about never wanting to grow
old, but I did anyway. And look at me now, sixteen and trying hard
to not live in the past," she said, gesturing around the theatre, then
at herself as she talked.
"You did only what you were suppose to, live, and in my opinion, you did
a fine job," Brian said.
Sarah smiled at him and glanced around the
theatre once more, almost hearing the laughter of the children at play
practice, and turned around to the door. She led Brian outside and
out of the park, walking back to Main Street and taking a right, away from
the ocean. They walked together down two blocks,
then crossed the street and walked up two
blocks until they were met with a
large red brick building.
"This is my church, St. Paul's United Methodist Church of Ocean Grove,
New Jersey," Sarah said, opening the door to the church and walking down
the stairs with Brian in tow. "I grew up in here too, I remember
a lot about here, I remember every square inch and where exactly I had
bible school every Sunday morning." She reached the bottom of the
stairs and opened the door at the bottom, walking into a red carpeted hallway.
She opened the first door she came to and walked in the dark room, reaching
around for a light switch. "And God said, let there be light," she
said jokingly as she found the switch. The lights on one side of
the room came on and bathed them in bright light.
"This is where we held practice for all those plays, day after day, week
after week, never a day without practice. I had so much happen here,
tears, laughter, and skinned knees from the carpet, it all happened.
I have a lot of memories here, more good than bad," Sarah said, walking
to the small stage at the head of the room. She ran her hand over
the wood slowly, remembering how she used to get a running start to haul
her body on the stage and do cartwheels around the stage, acting and singing
for the few people who paid attention. Sarah snapped out of her train
of thought and led Brian back the way they'd come, turning off the light
and walking back out into the hallway. She showed him around the
rest of the lower floor and where she'd had bible school, then reached
the door on the other side of the hallway. She walked upstairs with
Brian and into the church itself, still amazed at its silent beauty.
They sat in a back pew and talked about their childhoods until about seven,
then Sarah led Brian back home by way of the beach. They popped a
movie in the VCR and fell asleep watching it in the living room.