Hi lovelies! So, it’s that time of year: finals for us college students. I know everyone isn’t in that boat right now but, at the moment I’m drowning in revisions. And I think – I THINK – that this is how What Could Have Been / What Was begins. Thoughts would be SO appreciated!
What Could Have Been / What Was
The living room of Frankie Whitener’s house exploded into silence when Jamie McCann walked through the front door. The music had been quieter than normal when he’d driven up, parking in the loosely scattered gravel that passed for a driveway, but he had still been able to hear the thudding bass and raucous cackling of drunken girls as he walked up the rough wooden stairs. His heart beat loudly in his ears, replacing the bass one of the lanky Hull brothers – Jamie never had been able to tell them apart – had turned down when he saw Jamie standing in the doorway. Jamie shifted from one foot to the other on the crinkled linoleum flooring right inside of the door, scanning the room of recognizable but unfamiliar faces; recent Maiden High graduates, girls from his class, boys still dressed in the plaid button-downs they’d worn to Blake’s funeral. A young man with patches of scruff and crooked, yellowed teeth walked behind an armchair and lightly pinched the shoulders of the two girls sprawling in it, who had begun to giggle over some private joke. When he leaned between their heads, Jamie could make out a slurring introduction: Blake’s brother…accident…respect.
Pushing himself off of one of Frankie’s well-worn couches – the brown leather pillows of which looked as if they’d had half the stuffing beaten out of them – Seth walked over to the younger boy. There were nearly a dozen crumpled cans of cheap beer on the table across from where Seth had been sitting and another, uncrumpled, still in his hand. He slung his arm over Jamie’s shoulder and cracked a smile that poured sadness through his teeth. “Let’s get Blake’s brother a drink!” Seth said loudly, steering Jamie through the living room and into the kitchen. Frankie was pouring shots of clear, pungent liquid out of a glass bottle with no label. He handed two of the scummy glasses to Seth, who set his beer on the counter and passed one into Jamie’s hands. Jamie copied Seth’s hold on the small glass, unsure, and the three shuffled back and forth for a moment, glasses half-raised. As if in an afterthought, Frankie scooped Jamie’s truck keys out of the boy’s other hand.
“Stay here tonight,” he said, pulling open a drawer behind him. Jamie could see a collection of key rings jumbled in the drawer before Frankie swatted it closed and he felt his eyes begin to water and shook his head, blinking. Frankie clapped Jamie’s shoulder before raising his own shot glass above his head. Seth and Jamie did the same.
“Welcome home, man,” Frankie said. “To Blake.”