by C.L.

The ocean breeze blew through his hair as he stared out at the sun setting on the ocean. He had been in Southern California for nearly a year, but he still missed all the staff of WNYX. Even Matthew. He sighed, remembering that they were the former staff of WNYX. It had been a year since they had all left him for New Hampshire, but he could remember it as if it had happened yesterday. Or five minutes ago. The worst part was that they had never called him, trying to convince him to leave WNYX. He had wanted to a couple months after they had left, but he was too proud to tell them that. It was about that time that Matthew had gone on vacation to visit them. He never came back. On the surface, Dave had been glad to get rid of him. Inside, however, he felt alone. None of them were with him anymore, and it was unbearable. He was just about ready to cave in when coincidence, fate, God, had intervened. His new boss owned a fairly big FM station in Los Angeles, and she wanted to send him to be the station manager. It was a promotion. He had planned to turn her down, to quit altogether and go to New Hampshire when he got a call from Lisa. She was crying, but they were tears of joy. She had found out that she was pregnant with Johnny's child. She was so happy, and it was at that moment that something snapped in Dave's heart. He had the sudden realization that he now had no chance with her whatsoever. It was a surprise to him, but he realized he'd been hoping against hope that she would leave Johnny and ask him to come to New Hampshire so they could be together again. But that would never happen now, and Dave knew that living in New Hampshire would just be a reminder. So, he muscled up the courage to be happy for her, and he sounded sincere when he wished her the best of luck. The conversation didn't last long as they both had to get back to their respective jobs. He remembered that day nine months ago so very clearly. When he finished on the phone with Lisa, he had called his boss up to ask her when he was leaving.

The sun had almost fully set now, and a cool ocean breeze whipped past him. He fought back the tears as he remembered all the memories from the past. Beth bringing him coffee and listening in on his conversations. She had always been so . . . exuberant. He missed her red hair and her spunk. Joe and his paranoia. Dave almost regretted never telling Joe how much he meant to the station. The same with Matthew. Matthew was never good at work, but having him there seemed so right, even when he was an annoyance. Dave cracked a small smile when he remembered Mr. James and his confusing advice. Mr. James certainly had a way of confusing him, but, ironically, it always seemed to help him make a decision. He could sure use some guidance at the moment. He remembered Max and, though he could be extremely disgusting and, well, weird, he had his good qualities, like that one time when he had thanked the staff on air for giving him a chance. He remembered Catherine. God, he hadn't seen or spoken to her in so long. Since Bill's death. He still missed Bill. He could still remember what Bill's letter to him had said, and it never failed to bring tears to his eyes. He also remembered all the weird ass stories Bill would tell about his childhood. If even half the stuff Bill said about that were true, then he truly felt sorry for Bill.

But the person he missed most of all was Lisa. Even when they hadn't been going out, her presence always made him feel better, even when they fought. He had never stopped loving her, and his heart continued to break when he remembered her voice on the phone, so happy and emotional. It was the last time he had talked to anyone from WNYX. Maybe he should call them.

He was the only one still there, as the sun had set and the stars were coming out. The cool wind was becoming chilly, but Dave didn't mind. His remembrances of the past made him oblivious to his physical surroundings. It had been nine months since he talked to Lisa. No doubt by now her and Johnny's child had been born. He briefly wondered whether it was a girl or a boy, and whom it looked more like. He desperately hoped it was a girl who looked just like Lisa. Perhaps someday she would bring some joy to a boy who would love her and cherish her and never let her go. A boy who wouldn't make the same mistakes he had with Lisa.

He looked up to the sky and saw the stars twinkling there. Normally, such a sight filled him with a sense of awe and beauty, but on this particular night the stars seemed so cold and distant, offering no help. Should he call Lisa and the others? Would they even want to talk to him? He knew why they hadn't called him. He had left New York without even telling them. Were they upset about that, or did they even care? He wondered what they were all doing right now. The thought of all of them sitting in Mr. James' big cabin, talking and laughing together, or maybe coddling over Lisa's baby, overcame him. It was such a powerful thought, so very real to him, that he felt he had to be a part of it. Impulsively he stood and walked to the nearest pay phone, determined to reconnect with the people who, up until a year ago, he considered family. He knew the number to dial without needing to look it up and, a few moments later, the phone was ringing. He felt his heart pounding, nerves and anticipation building inside him.

His heart stopped after two rings. "Hello?"

He would know that voice anywhere. It was Lisa. Suddenly, his mind drew a blank and he couldn't think of anything to say. He remained silent.

"Hello?" she repeated.

In an act of fear, Dave hung up the phone. When he was able to breathe again, he berated himself for calling and thinking that they would want to talk to him. He stood and stared at the phone for another minute, wondering if he should try again. His breathing finally calmed, and his heart pounded normally. He glanced at his watch and realized he'd better get going. He had to be up early the next day. Looking at the phone again he walked away as he thought to himself, 'maybe some other time.'


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