*Exercise from The 4 A.M. Breakthrough. #188 Lost*
“What are we doing here?” Jenna asked her great grandfather.
Elijah put a gnarled hand on her head and smiled down at her. “This is my old home.”
“You lived here?” Jenna’s eyes widened as she looked down on the city again.
It was strikingly empty. There wasn’t a single car or person to be seen. Buildings were in desperate states of dilapidation. Some had crumbled, some were decorated with graffiti and broken windows, and others were covered in vines and other plant life.
“I lived there,” Elijah said. He pointed to the east, where the businesses ended and what used to be a cookie cutter neighborhood began.
The houses were worse off. Few were still intact; most had collapsed in on themselves. There were trees growing through some of them. You couldn’t tell where the street ended and the yards began. Almost like someone dropped green paint over the whole place.
“I remember the last few weeks I was here. Most everyone had already moved on. Well, not that there were many left after the incident.”
“Incident?” Jenna said the word slowly, not really knowing what it meant.
“The terrible accident that killed a lot of people. Including your great aunt, my little sister. You were named after her, you know.”
“Yes.” He’d told her that many, many times. It cropped up in most of his stories.
“But, yes. When I was getting ready to leave… some of the town was already broken. The incident caused it. Most of the businesses were boarded up. The only people downtown were the misbehaving youth. They broke into buildings and are responsible for the first layer of graffiti.
“But I think the worst part was the quiet. I might have stayed if it hadn’t been for that. No sound of cars driving past. No kids playing in the streets. No one mowing their grass on Saturday mornings… Silent. Enough to drive a person mad. So, I moved away with the rest of them.”
Jenna watched her great grandfather with wide eyes. He was always telling her great stories about when he was young. But this one seemed different. She didn’t want him to be sad.
“What about before?” she said.
“Hmm?” He’d been lost in thought, staring out at the houses.
“Before the incident. What was it like?”
“Oh, it was a fantastic little town. You knew your neighbors. There was always some kind of community activity on weekends. Movies in the park, parades on the square, fundraisers and car washes for the kids… All kinds of things meant to bring people together. Jenna loved it here. Even after our parents died and it was just us. She didn’t want to leave…so we stayed.”
Jenna reached up and tucked her hand inside her great grandfather’s and gave it a squeeze. He smiled down at her.
“But enough of this. Let’s go get ice cream.”