the whole story, pt. 4

At nineteen Nicole was living in an apartment in the U District with some high school friends she barely knew. She was working her way through community college--working as a waitress at the U District IHOP--much as she had worked her way through the last few years of high school, but had only a vague sense of her future--she had learned to cope with some of her problems better but was still mostly working away from the past more than anything. She did not speak to her parents once she had moved out, and they seldom attempted to contact her. One night someone left her a poem on the napkin. She wondered what the story must have been behind the boy who'd written those words. Was he happy? Something about it intrigued her. She kept it in her wallet, hoping she'd run into its author again. She moved on to a different job at a different restaurant, and resigned herself to its continued mystery.

Eric, at twenty-one, was enrolled in the UW working towards a degree in social studies. He had never worked a day in his life and couldn't decide if he was profoundly lucky or something else entirely--but he was happy and enjoying himself. Life was still a quest for self-discovery. He left a poem on the napkin for his waitress at the IHOP the night before he took a flight to New York to visit his sister for a few months. He envisioned himself a wanderer, an adventurer. He planned to wander the world.

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