Memories | Cole Hendricks

    In the Samuels’ residence, located on Rolling Road Drive, George packs his tan, rusted Honda with only one suitcase. He has just enough for the two-day trip to New Orleans. Kissing Christina, his wife, goodbye, he says, “I love you.” His two young boys grab onto his legs, and they try to hold him down, like two cement blocks attached to George’s feet. Crying at his feet, the boys do not let go, but George tells them, “It’s only for two days, then I’ll be back home.”
    While standing on the arrivals curb of the New Orleans Airport, an old, green Ford F-150 speeds up the ramp and slams on the breaks. The truck leaves dark black skid marks as it comes to a halt in front of George. He sees the same old Patrick, who hasn’t changed since high school. Patrick, elated to see his buddy, opens the door and runs to bear hug George who is sixty pounds lighter and five inches shorter than Pat. 
The lady standing a few feet away gawks at the awkward greeting, but George and Pat are caught up in their moment. 
    The reunion starts at seven in the evening, so the two have the day to themselves. They revisit the Southern Hill Elementary School with the faded sign out front and the squealy seesaw in the back. They drive to the woods behind Pat’s parents’ house and find them to be miniature compared to when they explored them for hours on the weekends in their elementary school years. Next, they drive to the old bar where they knew the owner and drank after the football games on Friday night. 
    The same cook still cooks on the grill in the back, and he gives the men a large grin to say hello when they sit down at the bar. His two missing teeth in the top row appear as he smiles. Memories of their youth flood their brains as they eat, drink, and chat.
    Now adults, they possess more prudence and wisdom than they had in high school. However, that drifts away, like the clouds in the breeze on that late spring Louisiana day, as they start to order beer after beer and take shot after shot. It is almost as if nothing had changed in that little bar since the night that Southern Hills High won the state championship. George and Pat have sloppy grins on their faces, just as they had on the fall Friday nights fifteen years ago.
    To go to the high school, they only need to walk a mile down main street in that small town just outside of New Orleans.
    The crowd has 300 members of their class already present. Everyone had changed, but neither of them notice. 
    Alison Thomas takes obvious note of the men as they stride past her. The men walk right to the dance floor, where they dance to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Alison makes her way out to dance with them. She was not the popular type in school, and she minded her own business. Her parents were always proud of her for her achievements in the classroom because she sacrificed her social life to earn only one B. 
    As she dances with the men, she realizes how she missed her opportunities as a teenager. Song after song, she inches closer and closer to George. When a slow song comes on, she grabs the drunken George, and dances with him for those four precious minutes, smelling his breath that reeks of alcohol. In his fuzzy brain, he mistakes Alison as his sophomore year girlfriend, Melinda Brands. The only common trait between the two is their blonde hair.
    After the song, Alison yanks the stumbling George into the hallway. They disappear down the dark hallway for the next thirty minutes.
    When George returns, Pat asks, “Whatcha been up to?”
    “I relived high school,” George replies.
    Pat laughs and the two finish the night with a few more dances before heading home to Pat’s. 
    They woke up early, so George could get to the airport. With his headache raging like a wildfire, George remembers the good time he had last night and can’t wait to tell Christina how much he misses his high school days.
    He arrives on his doorstep in Miami and kisses Christina. They sit down to talk about his reunion, but George let that one detail slip out.
    He begins to walk down Rolling Road Drive with only one suitcase, the same one he left with two days ago.