"Man. I love it up here. We can just listen to the birds chirp, the wind blow, the trees creak quietly as they sway back and forth. It's beautiful up here too. I can see my house, your house, Michelle, and even the church that sits on the mountain all the way over there. I gotta say, this was a great find. I now dub this place "Our Hill". The hill where we can just talk about anything, you know? We can chill up here for hours and hours. Maybe we could even camp here sometime."
What's there to talk about?
"Whatisn't there to talk about? We've known each other for as long as I can remember. It shouldn't be hard for us to come up with topics. We talk all the time, but it's different here because we're secluded from the rest of the world. Oh, and everything that is said here, and everything that is done here, stays here. We tell nobody. We don't tell them where the hill is, and we don't tell them what we've said and done up here. Let's keep this place our own."
But what if we make new friends?
"Then we set up a meeting and we discuss whether or not we want them here. It's really not that hard. Anyway, we can work out all the details later. The main thing is that we have a place to talk. So, now let's talk about something. Who's first?"
I think you should be Max. It is your idea after all.
"Right, right. Of course. Uhh, let me think. Just give me a second. Hmm...I know! I'll tell a story. We all like stories here, right?
"Okay, well, one day, along time ago, when I was at home working on my novel, I heard a knock at the front door. Now, see, I was home alone at the time, and I hadn't invited anyone over, so I was a little more than curious. I walked down the stairs to the front door and kind of stole a quick peek at the guy. It wasn't anyone I recognized, so obviously I was even more curious. So, I opened the door.
"Now, before I go any further, I'd like to direct my attention to my arms. Look at these things. Do they look like they could fend off a big, muscly guy?"
They don't look like they could hold off a kitten.
"Shut up, Rick. Haha, but you're right. I'm not afraid to admit it. I'm skinny. It's just who I am. But eh. I don't care.
"Anyway, so I opened the door and said, 'Hello, sir. Can I help you?' You know, in a formal sort of way.
"And the guy just said, 'Yes, you probably can.' But he didn't say anything else. So I stared at him with a frown for a second, then gestured for him to go on. Then he said, 'Oh, right, right.' Stumbling around trying to collect his thoughts or something. 'Well, kid, I was just wondering if you could direct me to the Fair Hotel?'
"Obviously, I felt inclined to help him out, so I stepped outside the door and led him down the driveway. I pointed towards the end of the street, gave him some directions, he thanked me, and then he headed for his car.
"For some reason, though, something about him intrigued me. I don't know if it was the way his shoulders slumped as he walked, or how he avoided eye contact when we talked, but I felt like something was wrong. So I said, 'You're taking a vacation here?'
"Then he faced me. 'Actually, I'm on my way to see my daughter.'
"'Oh really?' I said. I was thinking at this point that maybe he was just a little tired from the drive, but uhh, something still didn't seem right.
"He shrugged and added, 'Yeah.'
"Unfortunately, I didn't stop talking there. I said, 'Well, tell her hello for me.'
"He smiled slightly, then nodded. 'Will do. Thanks.' Then he turned and started to head for his car again.
"I really really wish that I had just stopped talking. I could have just walked into the house and closed the door. But no. I said one last thing. And I regret it. I guess first I should explain why I said it. That's the problem though. I'm not quite sure why I said it. It kind of just slipped out."
What'd you say?
"Well, I asked him if she was okay. I was referring to his daughter. I guess I asked because for one, he only looked like he was in his twenties, so his daughter couldn't possibly be old enough to live on her own. I also asked because it wasn't summer, so it wasn't like she was on vacation. Besides that, though, I didn't really have a reason."
What did he say?
"At first, nothing. He just stopped in his tracks. There was awkward silence, and I felt as though I should just turn and run, but I didn't. I stayed put. Then he shoved his hands into his jacket pocket and turned. That was when I saw that he was crying. Tears were streaming down his cheeks, and it looked as though he was going to begin convulsing, but he stayed calm. Finally, he said, 'I don't know.'"
How could he not---
"That's what I was wondering at first. But he kind of explained himself. He said, 'I haven't seen her in five years.'
"Then I said, and I wish I hadn't, 'That's terrible! How old is she?'
"Then, uhh, he said something that made my heart skip a beat. 'Five years old.'
"I paused for a moment, and just stared at him. That was when he threw a hand over his face and cried into it. I just folded my arms and tried not to look as though I was pitying him. Even though I was.
"Next thing I knew, his mouth was open again: 'I saw her when she was born, but then, I left. I took the first train out of there. I didn't think I was ready for a child. For a little girl. So I left. I chickened out and ran as fast as I could. And I wish I could say I never looked back, but I did. I did.'"
"The next part made me want to cry. 'For five years, I've wondered how she's been, if she's healthy. If she's even alive. I wondered where my girlfriend was, if she was still taking care of her. Then, one day, I couldn't take it anymore. I had to go back. So I'm going now.'
"'How do you plan on finding her?' I asked.
"'I know her mom has an apartment on the east side. I'm going to wait outside and beg them to let me become a part of their family.'
"He then said he had to go, so I let him, but as he was leaving I shouted out, 'It'll be alright.'"
Do you know what happened?
"Two days later, I was reading the newspaper and when I saw the headline that said 'Suicide at Fair Hotel', I knew that I was wrong. It wasn't going to be alright. I guess his daughter or his ex-girlfriend just didn't want him..."
That's a depressing story!
"But it's true!"
Goodness, Max. For our first story on the hill you tell us something like that? Are you stupid?
"Well, my turn's over anyway. Sorry I ruined all of your lives."