Photographs

Several minutes later, John was carrying Lissie's pots back to her house.  Once the pair reached her house, she held the front door open for him.  While he placed the pots in Lissie's kitchen, she grabbed two fishing poles and a tackle box from the closet.

               Looking at the equipment in her hands, John asked "We're going fishing?"

               Lissie replied with a simple "yeah" before walking out the door.

               John followed her outside.  She locked the door and began to walk east along the sidewalk.  John, carrying the tackle box, ran to catch up with her.  The pair walked for well over a half hour.  During this hike, each of John's questions was answered by the statement "Just wait."

               After some time, John and Lissie reached the edge of a lake.  John was greatly surprised.  Previously, he believed that the area was dry as a bone.  In the midst of this arid region aid an expansive body of water with cool, azure water.  The waters were deep and John was unable to see very far below the surface.  Near the shore, he was able to see several aquatic plants.  Once John took his eyes off the lake, he noticed Lissie dragging a weathered boat towards the water.  Before John had the chance the help, she had pulled the vessel into the lake.  She looked up towards him, squinting in the sunlight and spoke.

               "Are you coming or not?"

               John answered in the affirmative and carried the tackle box towards the boat.  Placing it behind one of the seats, he made sure to not upset the balance of the boat.  Lissie saw John's look of concern when the box served to push the boat further into the water.

               "Don't worry, it's seaworthy," spoke Lissie.

               She boarded the vessel carefully and motioned for John to join her.  He did so warily, still unsure of the craft's safety.  Once he was safely seated on the boat, Lissie shoved off with a wooden oar.  Once the two were in the middle of the lake, she handed him one of the fishing poles. 

               "Oh, I almost forgot the worms!" Lissie spoke.

               Opening the tackle box, she quickly found the bait and handed one of the wriggling creatures to John.  Taking one for herself, she impaled with her fishing hook.  John did the same and cast his line.  The two sat in silence for some time before Lissie spoke.

               "I bet you're wondering why I brought you out here."

               "Of course."

               "I just wanted to talk with you about this morning."

               "Great," John thought, "I hope she doesn't get upset again.

               "I know you're worried that I'm going to turn into a blubbering baby," Lissie continued.

               John nodded.

               "I know it's an emotional subject for you, Lissie."

               "You remember how my father brought home more than just a guitar?"

               "Yes," John replied.

               "When he came home, he brought a lot of weariness with him too.  He had spent so much time in Europe that it haunted him throughout the rest of his life.  I'm not sure what he saw during the war, but it must have been just dreadful.  The only time he ever acted like his old self was when he was teaching me to play guitar.  Eventually, he stopped showing me and I had to learn on my own."

               "So what happened to your father?"

               "The horrors he must have experienced just got to be too much for him to handle.  I don't know exactly how he went, because my mother refused to tell me.  I think the casket at the funeral was empty, though."

               Lissie again sat in silence for what seemed like hours to John.  He was wary to break the silence but finally worked up the courage to do so.

               "So, Lissie, while we're on this topic, I need to ask you about something."             

               "What is it, John?"

               "Martha and Bill had a son, right?"

               "Right."

               "I was wondering if you know anything about what happened to him."

               "I wish I could tell you.  Nobody has ever told me.  It's as much a mystery to you as it is me."

               "Oh."

               "I wouldn't suggest bringing it up to the Hodges.  They don't seem like they want to talk about it."

               After several more minutes of silence, Lissie spoke up.

               "So, where are you planning to go after you get your truck fixed?"

               "I'm not sure.  I might go east to where the big farms are.  I hear they could use extra hands this time of year."

               "So do you try to stay away from the crowds?"

               "When I can."

               For the third time, the pair fell silent.

               "We should be heading back to shore."

               "But why?  We haven't caught any fish."

               "This lake is too briny for fish to live in."

               "So why did you bring me out here?"

               "I wanted to get some stuff off my chest."

               John did not reply to Lissie's statement but simply grabbed the oars and paddled the boat to shore.  He was not upset with Lissie.  He knew that she was introverted and was wary to discuss her concerns with any person.  Grabbing the tackle box and rods, John strode to Lissie's house.  She stayed behind him several yards during the entirety of the walk, deep in thought.  Once John reached Lissie's front door, he waited for her to unlock it.  Instead, she handed the house key to John and began to walk away.

               "Lissie!" John called, "Where are you going?"

               "To the restaurant.  I'll be back in an hour or two."

               Without waiting for a response, she turned her back towards John, and walked away. 

               John unlocked the front door and went inside.  He placed the equipment back inside the hallway closet, and sat on the couch.  He spied a book with a label written by Lissie's own hand.  The soft curves of her letters distinguished her handwriting from all others. 

               Opening the book, he was able to see photos of a much younger Lissie with friends and relatives. The first photograph showed the girl, possibly sixteen when it was taken, sitting in a small café playing guitar.  She was performing in front of a relatively small audience.  It was, however, many times larger than the one that had watched her play in the diner. 

               Suddenly, John pitied Lissie for her situation in Salton.  The town she lived in now was much too small for her.  It stifled her.  He knew that she longed for the days when her home was one amongst thousands, and not one amongst the few dozen that existed here.  As soon as John discovered this, he grew aware of his loneliness.  He, too, was tired of the nomadic life.  He longed for a life in which he was able to sleep in a bed each night, have a career, and come home to loved ones.  He contemplated this for some time, before deciding to meet Lissie at the Hodges' home.

The End

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