23: Oklahoma

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They travel North to Oklahoma, making their 33rd state. Adrian, this time, admits he doesn't have anything specific planned for this state, and that Autumn can do a little researching and find something she'd like to do. 

They relax at the hotel, wasting the rest of the day, while Autumn searches for something to do tomorrow on the internet. She browses Google's results and keeps coming back to the same ones. She feels uncomfortable asking to go there, but the Oklahoma City National Memorial is something she's wanted to visit for a long time. It is a personal connection that she doesn't want to have to share with Adrian if he asks, but she trusts him and isn't afraid. 

"I-I found something," she says after a long hesitation. 

"What is it?" he asks. 

"The Oklahoma City National Memorial," she responds. She doesn't feel like it's enough, so adds, "It's a memorial for everyone who died during the Oklahoma City bombings." She stops herself from mentioning the name. 

"O-okay..." he says slowly. "Am I allowed to ask why you'd want to visit a memorial?"

They lock eyes, and Autumn looks away. "It's... it's nothing. It just sounds cool," Later, she tells herself, I'll tell him later. 

Adrian agrees, and doesn't ask again. They drive in near silence, letting the noise of the motor drown out their thoughts. 

They pull into a nonexistent parking space about a block away from the rows of stone. Autumn walks ahead of Adrian, not looking back. She glances briefly at each glass headstone, her eyes flicking over the words, in silence. She spends about half a minute in front of each. 

Adrian follows, reading each name and the fact that goes with them. He looks ahead of him to see that she has stopped in the third row, staring intently at one structure. It's no different from the others, but she doesn't move from it. Adrian catches up with her. 

He doesn't say anything, just puts a hand on her back as he peers over her shoulder. She flinches slightly but doesn't look away. 

He reads the name, wondering why it seems so important to her. 

It reads:

Jayson Paisley

1973-1995

He looks at her. Tears glisten in her eyes, and she's obviously struggling to keep them from falling out. 

Adrian dares to speak. "Did-did you know him?" He knows the answer already, considering he had the same last name as Autumn. 

"My brother," her voice cracks. She gives up holding in her tears and lets them go. Adrian folds her into a hug, and she cries lightly into his shoulder. 

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