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Chapter One

Chapter One

Time it was and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photgraph
Preserve your memories, they're all that's left, you

Simon and Garfunkel's "Bookends"

Another day in New York City, I thought with a sigh. The sun hadn't yet risen, and the air smelled clean and fresh, untainted by the foul pollution from factories and cars. There was a slight orange tinge on the horizon, while pink and yellow fingers of dawn light snaked their way through the deep blue of morning. I always went up to the roof of my apartment building to watch the sun rise. It was one thing that stayed constant in my life, and made me peaceful.

I was watching hard now as the whole sky slowly turned orangey-yellow. Finally the sun burst over the edge of the horizon. The whole city turned brilliant colors, for just one moment, before the fiery star climbed higher into the sky. I stared until I couldn't see anymore. Why, I don't know. It felt good to feel pain again, for I was still a little numb.

"Oh, Chris," I murmured, on the brink of tears. No! I told myself sternly. You can't start crying now! But the tears came anyway. It hurt so bad to think about him, but I couldn't help it. He had been my first and only "true love." Now that my heart was shattered, I wasn't sure how I could possibly love anyone again.

The City was starting to come alive. Regretfully I got up, cramped from sitting with my knees up to my chin for thirty minutes. Now I would have to face life again, face the emptiness and reality. I didn't want to do it, I really didn't, but Dad had told me to try and get on with life, even if it may seem impossible. There was always another day, he'd said. But I knew there never would be. Though it had been six months, I still hadn't gotten over his death.

I had a daily routine I followed so I wouldn't sink into a deep state of depression like I almost had once before. I had a good job as a secretary in a nearby office. It was a monotonous job where I didn't have to think much. I was so busy typing, proofreading, filing, sorting, and answering calls, that I couldn't let my thoughts wander.

One evening, when I was pondering whether or not to go out and spend an hour or so in a cafe, sipping at coffee, the phone rang. The loud ringing woke me out of the dream-like state I'd been in all day.

"Hello?" I said quietly into the phone. I expected it to be my parents again, checking up one me.


That voice jolted me back to my childhood. A dam in my head broke, and thousands of memories flooded through. Surely it couldn't be him...?

"John?" I said with uncertainty in my voice.

"Aileen! It's you!" he cried with pleasure in his voice.

"John, what are you calling here for? There's nothing wrong, is it?"

"Oh no, nothing like that. How've you been lately, luv?"

I was quiet. Could I tell him? Should I tell him? Had time seperated us so much that I would have to get to know him again first?

"I'm...all right." I replied carefully.

John heard the catch in my voice. "What's the matter?"

"I--I can't explain." Not over the phone, anyway. This time there were no tears. Was I getting over him? Did I want to stop mourning him?


"Yes... Why did you call?"

"I was wondering if you're free to come over?"

"You don't mean England! I couldn't possibly afford it. And my job...I can't just leave it."

"Come on, Aileen. I need you." John sounded slightly down. I thought of him in that big house of his, cooped up and not able to go anywhere because of fans, or either having a tiring session at the studio all night. I immediately became concerned.

"I thought maybe you could go on tour with us, too. It'll be nice to see you again. We all miss you. And you won't have to pay for any of it."

It sounded tempting. But everything was happening so suddenly. I hadn't seen him in person since last year, and that was only for a very short time. I'd barely been able to say hello before he had to leave for a concert.

"Come on, say yes. Please." John pleaded.

"Why now? Why all of a sudden?" I had no idea why I was asking these questions like I needed justification to go. Ever since that terrible night, I had always been suspcious and wary.

"I want you. Here." he added quickly. "I really have missed you, Aileen. It's been too long."

I thought for a moment. I was sure Dad would approve; he wanted me to get out of the rut I was in. And it would be nice to get away from all of the painful memories.

"All right, John. I'll come."

The rest of the details were arranged, and I discovered that a ticket had already been bought and sent to my house. That was just like John to do that. He knew he could convince me to do anything.

It was hard going to sleep with Chris's picture next to me on the bedside table. I couldn't stop thinking about him. He always lurked around in the back of my mind. Sometimes I wanted to forget him, and go back to before I'd ever met him, back to the innocent days of my childhood. That was silly of course. I was just going through the same, tired, old arguments that I thought every night. It was yet another routine. Somehow the comfort of it all kept me from crying as much at night. But just this once, I let the tears slide slowly down my face to wet my pillow.