Darius Hansen was allowed into the Daniel S. Gumpter Memorial Community Center in Uptown Oakview at any hour of the day, specifically the swimming pool, and even more specifically, the diving board. He even had his own key.
Darius was the town hopeful, a sure-fire Olympian. And he needed a place to practice his diving. More to the point, it was hoped that Darius’ success would mean the success of the whole town.
image: Jacob Haddon
Once, Oakview was a middle-class haven that also hosted a strong working class, too. It had once hosted an airplane seat manufacturing plant that employed most of the town; line workers, administrators, and middle managers, too. But, that was a few years ago. Since then, the plant closed down and relocated to China. If you had a dark sense of humour, you could say the town was grounded.
The only thing left in Oakview was anaemic strip malls, unemployment lines, the crumbling Gateway Bridge over the Spencer River where a guy committed suicide a few years ago, and the desperate search for a way out alive. Continue reading
Dian turned off her cellphone, and slipped out of the hotel suite she’d called home since the conference began a week ago. She rode the elevator down, walked across the marble floor of the hotel lobby, and out onto the street. She borrowed the keys to the rental car from Jackie her personal assistant who reluctantly agreed to clear the afternoon’s schedule while Dian made her trip out of the city and back into the suburbs of her youth. It wouldn’t just be a trip through the streets, onto the highway, and then out into the land of manicured lawns and the smell of barbecue coals on the air. It would be a trip in time, too.
She didn’t expect to see anyone she knew. She moved from here when she was seventeen, just before the end of high school. Now she was forty-eight, although she looked thirty-eight. Everyone else she knew was probably gone, too. That’s what you did when you were from a place like this. You did your time when you were a kid, and then you left. In Dian’s case, it was a move into the city with Mom and Dad for the last few months of high school, then university, then a job right out of school, several promotions, a marriage to Mark, a partnership in the firm, and two beautiful daughters not soon after. It was like a logical progression for her. It never occurred to Dian that anyone would actually want to stay in the town they were born in. There were too many ghosts when you stayed in one place like that.
But, coming back here for the conference, with her hometown only forty-five minutes away down the highway had been like a sign to her, perhaps another logical progression. She knew she had to leave, and go back to the old neighbourhood. Because sometimes, ghosts didn’t stay in one place, either. Sometimes, despite all of your sucesses, they followed you. They reminded you who you really were.
So, maybe this trip back would help. Maybe it would finally help.