"This is stupid. What do you think you'll find? Evidence? Because I'm pretty sure all of it went up in flames." Travis slung his backpack over his shoulder and waited for Sharol to continue.
"And what if you run into someone you know? It's not like you can have a conversation with them; they all hate you!" Travis walked around the kitchen, looking for his keys. He found them in the basket they kept the mail in.
"What if the police see you? What do you think they'll do? They'll take you in to question you. And you said when you first told me about all of it, you said that you would never answer the questions." Travis slammed his hand down on the counter and turned to Sharol.
"I need to see it! I need to know what I really caused! I need to know what those people went through because of me! It was all because of me. I need to know what I did! Do you want me to just leave those people alone for the rest of my life?!" Travis's heart pounded, and his mind was racing.
"Yes! I mean-no. No, I don't want you to let them suffer with what happened. But I also don't want you to get in trouble, or have to do anything for the police. But what if those people hurt you? I can't let anything happen to you." Travis ran his fingers through his hair. Grabbing his phone, he walked towards the front door.
"I have to do it." Travis walked out the door, ignoring the noise of Sharol yelling.
Travis switched lanes and got onto the highway. The sports radio channel was playing, but Travis wasn't paying much attention to it. The only thing he could focus on was what Sharol had said to him, and what he had said to her, before he left.
"Yes! I mean-no. No, I don't want you to let them suffer with what happened. But I also don't want you to get in trouble, or have to do anything for the police. But what if those people hurt you? I can't let anything happen to you." Travis played it over and over in his head, trying to make sense of it, even though he already knew what it meant.
Travis honked at the person who cut in front of him in the traffic. That person honked his horn back, and Travis rolled his eyes.
Travis looked at the Pointerville welcome sign and sighed. This was it; now or never. Right after the sign, there was a road and Travis turned on it. Nothing had changed. Just trees for a minute, then the “Bubble School” (one of the small public schools), and then just houses. Travis drove, looking around, noticing that nothing had changed. He finally came to the dead end and parked the car. Grabbing his backpack off of the passenger seat, he got out and found the path that led back into the woods.
Twigs and leaves crunched under his boots and Travis’s heart pounded from all of the memories. Things came to his mind, like when he would attempt to catch a bunny or a bird, when Travis would race his cousins down the trail, or when he learned how to go hunting with his...father. Remembering that, Travis stopped in his tracks and tears started rolling down his face. He reflexively wiped them away and sniffed. Travis continued his walk for about five minutes before turning to the right. There was a wider path this way, just big enough for a car to go through. Travis walked down it until he stopped. He looked around for what should have been his childhood home, but was greeted with nothing but a pile of rubble.
He proceeded through the open area, trying to figure out if maybe he had gone down the wrong path. But this was the only one. And that was the tree that he would lean up against while playing his guitar. After what felt like hours, Travis realized that his home had gotten torn down. Taking the evidence with it.
This had been his home, his safe place, but now seeing it gone, Travis couldn’t help but cry. He dropped down to his knees and sobbed.
Travis got up after an eternity and dried his eyes. Taking one of the backpack’s straps off of his right shoulder, he dug around until finally finding his cell phone. He walked around the clearing and the pile of rubble and took pictures. After looking at a couple of them, Travis gave up on his phone and grabbed his real camera. Once he was satisfied with the pictures he had taken, Travis started the trek back to his car. He still had one more stop to make.
Travis stood in front of the door and knocked-three hard and loud, two soft and quiet. After a moment, the door opened to a woman in her mid-nineties.
“Marie? Is it okay if I come in?” Without saying a word, Marie stepped back and opened the door wider to let Travis in. He nodded at her and walked to the table at the right of the main room; just as he had as a child. As he sat down, Marie closed the door and did the same.
“Look, Marie...I just wanted to say that-” Travis stopped short when Marie held up her hand, signaling for him to stop talking.
“No. You cannot say that you are sorry, for we all know that you are not. That you got what you wanted, and you do not care what happened to the rest of us. You may leave now.” Marie motioned to the door, and Travis saw the seriousness in her eyes.
“But, Marie. Come on.”
“Goodbye, Travis.” Reluctantly, Travis got up from the table and pushed in his chair just like Marie had taught him all those years ago. He nodded at her in understanding and left the house.
“Sharol. You were right. Even Marie hated me. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.” Travis enveloped Sharol in a hug and she hugged him back.
“I know. I’m sorry, too.”