he story was going to end. It said right on the cover that it wouldn’t, but he’d had a lifetime of experiences with false advertisements and broken promises. Love you forever, like you for always. Sure, he could see there were a lot of pages, a lot more than most of the books he’d read, but the amount was measurable. Finite.
The grim inevitability had sank in as the sun sunk down. There had been a lot of sinking in his life of late. Hairlines, belt lines. Punchlines. None of the borders he’d drawn seemed solid. So, after supper and before indigestion, he got in his car and drove downtown. Winding his way in from the suburbs, like a brook trout fighting upstream.
The bookshop was gone, of course. Just another empty storefront on the main drag. But he didn’t need it. He never returned the book. It was in a plastic grocery bag in the backseat.
They’d wrapped the school in chainlink, but he found his way under, ripping his shirt and then cutting his hand struggling through a broken basement window. He was covered in blood, cobwebs and years.
The halls were hollow and hallowed and the place reeked of memory. He walked with his head bowed, like a monk in ceremony, filing past the procession of lockers. He thought of mistakes and missed opportunities. He took a piss in the girls’ washroom on the third floor. There was no one to tell him not to.
He had to bust the lock on the attic. He climbed the old stairs. He found an old blanket. He lit an old stump of candle. He sat down on the old wooden floor. Everything old, just like old times. Only he was also old this time.
He read and remembered most of it. It seemed shorter. Smaller. They were just words on the page. A rectangular object. The magic in it was gone. It was that bare nub of dandelion after the dust had blown away.
And here he was. Ten or twenty pages left. Then he’d have to go. Back up those streets, driving not flying, where there’d be no bullies waiting to throw him in a dumpster. They’d moved on. Got real jobs. They didn't miss him. Not the way he did, with a fierce and clutching love, for them and all the lost comrades that now seemed to loom from every dark corner of the attic.
It wasn’t a bad book. It was just ending. Like everything. He was all grown up, there was nothing he could do about it. Nothing.
Remember when you were a minipop, and you saw that film, you know, the one you loved that never had a sequel? Well, let's say it did. And it was just like you imagined it, only a little bit worse.