beautiful sight, like a painting on Nature’s wall that fit seamlessly into the gorgeous day. Dane needed the reprieve, and he loved Mies Park, which was the picture-perfect setting to unwind and release.
The huge area boasted scenic sights, long picturesque bike trails, discrete picnic areas and plenty of space for children and lovers to play. Sometimes he’d come, sit on his favorite bench under an old oak tree and read his Bible or write out his sermon. Other times, he’d just daydream. Every day here, he found something extraordinary, beautiful or whimsical to sink one or more of his five senses into—something that moved his soul and spirit, making them slow dance to the natural music of the gifted day. Today, he came to escape his own worries. Josh had been admitted into the hospital and was sliding further down into a dark chasm, which caused grief to all that loved him. Since their dinner, Dane had kept in constant contact with his ill friend on a daily basis, trying to not become a nuisance, but he was driven to hear the man’s voice. The more time passed, the weaker Josh seemed. Dane tried to offer words of encouragement, refusing to admit that he, too, sometimes felt angry with God about the recent turn of events. He hung on to his optimism, hoping that this was truly one of those moments when things grew increasingly gloomier before bursting like a star storm of energy and bestowing a blessing in the nick of time.
Dane sat back on the bench, legs slightly parted, and crossed his arms over his chest as he drifted into his memories. He was briefly distracted when one of the priests from his parish walked past in the near distance.
“Hi, Dane!” Fr. Sinclair called out, waving.
“Hey, Stewart!” Dane waved and forced a grin, though he wasn’t in a smiling mood, and the man kept on his way.
Dane could see Josh clearly in his mind—the two of them cutting across the high-school field, laughing and goofing off during football practice, only to be reprimanded again and again. They were bad influences on each other, but couldn’t help themselves and were hitched at the hip. Twin souls, the best of friends, more like brothers. It started in the third grade, and never stopped. You couldn’t find one without the other; their lives were intertwined and they’d experienced so much together.
He remembered how devastated Josh had been after his parents divorced but soon after, a new exciting chapter arrived in his life, saving him from his own hopelessness. His first love, Marilyn Lopez blew the lid off of the seemingly quiet, suburban life the two young men had grown accustomed to. The sexy Latina siren from Massachusetts moved to Lavonia from Canada with her father. She, too, was a product of divorced parents and lent Josh an ear, as well as her heart.
The new girl with waist length jet black hair, alluring green eyes and a Spanish accent made the boys’ toes curl. All the junior guys wanted a chance at her, and Dane and Josh played a bit of rivalry to get her attention, but Dane could see that Josh really dug her, so he stepped back and let it all play out. After a while, they both had steady girlfriends and were living it up—football, dates, parties. Life was a blast. But then, Marilyn was gone, just as quickly as she’d arrived. She moved away after less than a year, when her father was transferred to managerial job in New Mexico.
Josh had tried to play it cool, but inside the poor guy was fading. Despite Dane’s support, he did what anyone would do for a guy that was dumped by the chic he’d lost his virginity to—drown him in a bottle of illegally acquired booze. Dane quickly obtained a fake I.D. and purchased them both some beers to get them both completely plastered the night she pulled out of her driveway for the final time. He nonchalantly told him to forget about her, that she wasn’t worth it, but they were just words, something to pacify the deep crater inside his best friend’s