Alex read a letter from his friend. He read it in bed because he didn't have heating yet. Joey was talking about his home life back in Medina, Alex's hometown. Alex left his home 3 months ago in an attempt to get out of a funk he was in. It was a sudden move, one he made impulsively. He still wasn't sure if he made the right decision.
In the letter Joey talked about his family. His little sister Joan was still playing with the toy Alex gave her. When Alex left Medina, it wasn't his family he had a hard time leaving; it was his friends and their family.
Alex listened to light mood music as he read. Joey's handwriting was awful, and sometimes Alex had to really look at it and parse the meaning. When Joey wrote "morning", he wrote "AM" instead. It didn't help him understand it.
"Alex" it read, "I wish I had the guts to leave like you did."
Alex paused and looked up at his room. It was still very sparse. He had a bed, a desk, and a small CRT TV.
It continued, "When I think about all the things that bring me down in this place, it just kills me. I bet a change of scenery is just what I need, too."
Alex stood up from the letter and went to the kitchen. He grabbed a bottle of whiskey he had and poured a glass. If he had an icetray, he'd of put ice in the glass. He went back to the letter.
"Franny hasn't been around for a few days. I'm starting to get worried about her, you know?" Alex took a drink.
"Jesus, Fran." he thought. "What're you up to?"
When Alex left, Franny was the last person to see him. She was upset, and he knew she would be, but they hadn't gone out for 3 years. When he was first thinking about leaving, he thought "She's over it now, isn't she?"
They managed to be loose friends, but their breakup created a gap between them.
The letter said, "I miss you, man. It's not really the same. You have to let me know when you're going to visit."
On Joey's porch, they smoked cigarettes and shared hard cider. The sky was pink and the sun was softly setting. It was warm, relaxing weather. Alex had said "I think I'm going to quit smoking."
"No s**t? Are you going to take those patches?"
"Nah. It's...not me anymore."
Joey was thinking "You make decisions so easy."
They looked out on their neighborhood ceremonially.
When Alex was leaving, Franny held him close to her. The smell of her hair fulfilled him, like it always had.
"C'mon, Fran. It'll be alright."
She was quiet and then she said, "It was nice to know you were around. And now you won't be."
Alex finished his drink of whiskey and closed his eyes. If he tried, he could still smell her, just a little.
Alex was sitting on his bed back home when he decided to leave. He had just come home from hanging out with Joey. He hadn't had a job in a month and he felt restless. But it was more than just restless. The job distracted him. He would sit on the computer and surf the internet for hours and do nothing.
The thought hit him like a rush of blood to the head. "I need to get out of here. I need to leave Medina."
Joey's letter said, "One day, I'll get out of here too. I hope everything is good in Deppen. I'll see you sometime."
Alex folded the letter and put it back in the envelope. He held it in his hands for a while. He thought about how he was going to write back.
He looked at the clock and it said 8 PM. He picked up his phone and dialed. "Hello?"
"Hey Josh. What're you doing?"
"Sitting at home, watching TV."
"Wanna hang out?"
"Yeah, sure. Come on over."
Alex put on a light jacket. He slipped the letter into the drawer and left his apartment. He didn't respond to Joey. He didn't know how.
When Alex came home that night, he laid down on the bed. He landed a job in construction last week. He was meeting new people and seeing a different town. Everything was different. But when he wrapped the blankets around himself and set the alarm clock for 7AM, he still felt cold.
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