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Kevin Walters

Visit Home: March, 2006


I hadn't been back to Hattiesburg in months—since after the Big Storm slammed in and blew the houses, trees and people around like 52 Card Pick Up.

Walking around town, through my old neighborhood and on the college campus, I inexplicably found myself searching for people I expected to see—classmates, teachers, lovers, rivals—but who had, instead, otherwise gone on and found new lives. See, I expected them to be there, like life hadn't gone on, but I had, and they should be there for me—like they were actors in my drama.

The arrogance of that thinking didn't faze me, though. I still left business cards twittering in doorframes and in mailboxes. I dialed numbers from memory—10 and 15 years of memory—and got wrong numbers and hang-ups. I stood in carports, like a stalker, then remembered that my friends had moved on. I crept away, strange dogs barking behind glass.

This person lived here. That person died there. We had such a good time that night. God, I got so, so crazy fucked up. Does it all seem smaller to you? 

I found myself looking for the younger, stupider version of me, haunting old classrooms and offices at the campus. Instead, I just saw the older, wise enough to know how stupid I am version.

This was craziness, to look for the past and expect to find it. I stood under one of the live oaks and told myself to stop fucking up so much, to accept people for who they were, to stop holding on and let go, to not be jealous, to stop being hardheaded, to realize that it's all craziness—all of it. I felt my eyes welling up, thinking about all this what-not swirling in my head, these lost strands and people, cut and pasted again and again over memories upon memories. 

A girl, maybe 20 years old, stopped in front of where I stood. She wore cowboy boots, jeans torn so perfectly at the knee that they looked as if they were torn by professionals and a diamond under her lower lip. Her brown hair framed her cheeks.

"Hey. Like, are you OK?"

I realized I had been talking to myself. Not loudly, mind you, but enough to call attention to myself.

More scared that I had not noticed this than embarrassed, I ran back to my car as fast as I could.

A native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Kevin Walters has recently completed a novel and is preparing to work on another. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in both online and hard copy publications. He currently lives in Nashville.

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