You don’t go looking for the picture; it falls into your hands. Serendipity? Or a cruel twist of the knife permanently embedded in your gut?
Dom, Peter and Elijah, arms around each other, smile into the camera; but you only have eyes for Elijah. Some things never change. He looks happy, you think. Happiness—such a simple, uncomplicated emotion; too bad you’ve rarely been able to achieve that state, especially in the years since New Zealand.
But neither has he, and you wonder now, with a thrill of hope and fear: has he finally moved on? On second consideration, though, you understand. (Haven’t you always understood him, better than you’ve ever understood yourself?) It’s the happiness of the drowning man clinging to a life raft. For a brief space of time, New Zealand has been recaptured, in all its life-changing glory.
How does he feel, now that the euphoria has inevitably subsided, and the truism that you can’t ever go home again has reasserted its dominance? Silly question; you know exactly how he feels, and why.
You. It always comes back to you.
Without conscious volition, your fingers stray to your cell phone. They ghost across ten numbers—the secret code to unlock the door to your prison of loneliness—with the unthinking assurance of a blind man reading Braille. So many times they’ve followed this same pattern, never pressing quite hard enough to spring the lock.
Maybe you can’t go home again, but you can start anew.