somewhere else

It's none of your concern anymore.

He kept things together, more or less, when he was still around. People came to him with their problems, because he cared, because he could make things work, because they knew they could count on him to do the right thing. He was respected. When he got a job--a new job, a wonderful job--somewhere else, he was given a fond farewell, and we all promised to keep in touch. For a while, some of us even did.

But he was gone, and people changed. We had to. What we all thought would be a hole that we could never fill turned out to just be a temporary gap. It wasn't even that we learned to do without, like there was still something missing. It was more that we started living like he was never there, or at least never necessary. Life moved on.

But life has its way of bringing people together. Some years later he came back--as people often do--and, seeing a friend of mine in trouble, did what men like him always do in those situations: he tried to help. She shrugged him off, said she'd deal with it, but thanked him for his concern.

Then he did something I'd never seen him do, which was turn to someone else--in this case, me. "What happened? What did I do wrong?"

I said that I didn't know, but we exchanged a look that said everything. This isn't the town he left.

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