53: A Short Stroll Down Memory Lane

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Back home, Autumn stands in the middle of the living room, not sure where to begin. 

Her mother was never really a scrapbooker, but sometimes made photo albums of events in a few minutes. She liked to preserve her memories, and always kept them in this room. 

She had never really paid any attention to where they were put. She never found the need to remember. But now was important. She wanted to know. 

She started in the corner, because looking somewhere was better than not looking. She checked the drawers and cabinets, even under the sofa and between the cushions. 

Though she was alone, she felt guilty. This room had always been forbidden, not strictly, but enough to make her afraid of it as a child. Now here she was, tearing the place apart, searching for a photo album or two just for some piece of mind. 

Working her way around every spot in the room, checking every nook and cranny, looking under and over and through and behind everything there was an under and over and through and behind to, she looks. The longer she searches, the more desperate she becomes, as her curiosity only grows. 

After nearly an hour, on her third check over the room, she discovers a thin photo book about the size of her palm just sitting out in the open on the white wooden coffee table. She swears it was not there ten minutes ago. 

She flops down on the couch and holds the book above her head, letting the ceiling light backlight the pages so she could see the pictures without any glare on them. 

The pages flip briskly, Autumn skimming each one for any sign of Jayson or her father, now starting to wonder if those memories of her father were just dreams, or figments of imagination spurred by wishful thinking. Were they memories she had, or just ones she wished she had?

This album consists of pictures of herself as a baby, but no pictures of anyone holding her, let alone her father. She sighs at the last page and puts it back where she found it. She knows there are more. 

There has to be more. 

After a few minutes, she finds a second one, this one thicker with more pictures. Relief floods her mind as the title reads 1990, five years before Jayson... died...

She stares at it, now stuck in another daydream. Jayson is dead. How could he be here, in a local city, yet somehow completely hidden from his parents? And what reason would he have to hide? 

She sets down the photo album without flipping a single page. It's a waste of time. Jayson wouldn't have a gravestone if he wasn't dead; he would be here. The message on the phone proved he cared about his family, so why would he just desert them?

Lots of people have blue eyes; she scolds herself, and dark hair. It doesn't mean anything. Coincidentally, your dad did too. 

But what about his long nose and round face? the hopeful side of her reasoned. And his initials? Those things can't be just a coincidence. 

It doesn't matter, both sides of her mind admit. 

She wishes more than anything that she could ask her mother exactly what happened in 1995. She wishes the story had been written down, or at least told by ear to her. But the first time she brought it up as a child, her mother had a nervous breakdown, and after that scarring moment, she never asked again. 

It was one mystery that had left with her mother, and, against all odds, may return to give the truth one day. 

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