CTR Stories


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For The Strength of Youth

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Submitted by spazmom on 22 February 2007 - 3:20pm.

CHAPTER 1

“Astoria.” My breath caught in my throat, I could hardly believe my eyes. Having just walked into my apartment from work–a normal boring, hot August day in Salt Lake City–I’d tossed my mail on the counter thinking it was all junk. After grabbing a quick glass of cold water, I’d picked it up to throw it in the garbage when I saw the return address on one of them, causing my heart to beat rapidly.

Letting the other letters slip back to the counter, I sat on the nearby stool suddenly shaky and weak. It wasn’t December--which was the only time I’d seen that address for the past three years--and for some reason that brought panic. Why were they writing me? What news did they need to share?

“Astoria.” I whispered the word, lightly running my hand over the thick cream colored envelope. The mere word was bringing back images, memories, smells and sounds that I had long ago forgotten.

Suddenly long hidden memories were flowing back, reminding me of lush green forest, foggy beaches and baked Blackberry pie. Funny how it never triggered this response in December. When I’d see their card, I’d open it, read it, stick it up with the others and promptly put it out of my mind. I’d never spent Christmas there, after all. Only summers. Cool, lush, green summers, I reminded myself, looking out the sliding glass doors of my apartment at the heat waves coming off the pavement below.

I licked my dry lips, turning the envelope over to slide a nail under the flap and tear it open. “Dearest Angie,” I read silently. “We realized this year how long it’s been since we’ve seen you, and how long it’s been since we’ve talked. We’ve been thinking of you so much lately, we insist you come visit us this summer. You’ve been hiding yourself away in Utah for too long. Please come see us.”

I couldn’t believe it! I closed my eyes and the thoughts that had only teased me a moment before rushed back through with full force. The salty sea air coming in off the river, the barges moving past the docks, the chancy rain showers. How I had missed it! And here was a chance to go back.

Opening my eyes, my vision landed on the photo of my parents. I stood slowly, walking over to run a finger along the edge of the soft wood frame. What would it be like to go back without them? Would they linger everywhere I looked? I didn’t know if I could bear the echoes of their voices and laughter... Sighing, I glanced at the letter before looking out the window at the dry parking lot with wilting trees, dying grass and radiating heat.

“Astoria.” I whispered, suddenly feeling tears fill my eyes. I was glad no one could see me. I had no idea why I was crying! But, I knew I was going. It was like the answer to every prayer I had uttered since I was 19.

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