He skims through the section where people pay a few bucks to give their loved ones some recognition, to pay tribute to those who perhaps have a birthday or just graduated from high school or college. The people who write these ads care about the subject of the post and want everyone to know it; family, friends, and even people they never met.
Why he bothered to check out this section on this day he does not know and only contemplates this sometime later.
Two posts catch his eye, they are the same picture. Only one picture, only one subject, only one person.
Has she graduated college? This is that time of year. No. It's her birthday. The twenty-third anniversary of her birth. But she had only lived to see sixteen of those anniversaries.
Kaitlin died on January 30 2005. The high school junior was killed by her friend Danielle. Danielle, the girl who was attractive, popular, and had everything going for her. Kaitlin got into Danielle's car on that cold night after Danielle had been drinking. Kaitlin never stepped out of that car, but was instead carried out in a body bag. Danielle, on the other hand, made it out fine. Except for having to live with the fact that you crashed your car going way too fast after drinking way too much.
He knows where this happened. This happened on Bear Road six years ago. He had just driven down Bear Road today but had not thought about the incident until the two posts he found in the paper. One from Mom, Justin, and Erika, and the other from Auntie, David, and Nichole. Two posts, one picture, one girl.
He wonders if Danielle remembers which telephone pole she crashed into. He wonders if she feels she deserved to go to jail. He wonders how her life is going now and how often she thinks about Kaitlin.
One page after the pay-to-post section is the obituaries. He likes comparing how older people used to look when they were younger to how they looked in their later years. He can always see a resemblance but still often is shocked at how life physically wears on us.
His eyes focus quickly on a picture of a girl he knows-Debbie. His initial thoughts question why Debbie's picture is in the obituaries. Is it misplaced? Maybe she graduated from college and it's a carry-over from the previous section. It is, after all, that time of year. His mind soon comes to a conclusion that would have happened much sooner to someone who did not know Debbie.
"Debra died," it reads. It is said to have been unexpected and at her home on Friday. He just found out Debbie had a son named Isaiah.
He remembers when Debbie wrote words of school spirit and encouragement on his hand the day of a modified track meet on the bus as they were heading home from junior high school.
He remembers playing soccer with her - they were on the orange team. One game Debbie scored her first goal and was ecstatic. The happiest soccer player he had ever seen. Another time she got pissed off for some reason and threw a temper tantrum like a child a decade younger than her might have. She must have been the most emotional recreational athlete he had ever known.
He remembers being at his friend's house one night just hanging out on the driveway. His friend's brother had just got a new Dodge Neon as a high-school graduation gift. He and his friend hung out by the car talking to Debbie. He felt cool being outside at night, talking to a girl and pretending he actually knew something about the Neon.
He wonders what Debbie had been up to all the years they were not in contact. He also wonders if her brother Mike is still as tall as he remembered him being. He figures he will at the very least find out how tall Mike is tomorrow at Mike's little sister's wake.