I stood across the street from the bank. More accurately, what was left of the bank. And I watched as the big ass wrecking ball smacked the right side of its classic clock out of existence, knowing the next swing or so would take down the left side.
The bank was gone. It had been gone for weeks, but the destruction of the building made it somehow more painful. More real.
I wasn’t alone. Most of the town stood with me, watching the bank building be torn down. In the end, there would be nothing left but a bare spot of ground where weeds and brush would start to grow.
The bank was the last place to go. The doctor had left a few years earlier. So had the post office. The grocery store. The pharmacy. The car dealer had left when I got out of college. There were no fast food places. McDonalds never came to town. Neither did Subway. Or Pizza Hut.
Judy’s mom got too old, and closed down her little restaurant. That had been the last one in town. Everyone in town ate there on Sundays, after church. We’d all cried when the place closed. But we understood. Judy had a job in the big city, three hours away. She couldn’t run the place. It had been her mom’s place.
Judy’s mom was buried in the cemetery. We used to have a couple of guys that kept the cemetery up. Mowed. Weeded. Made sure there were flowers in the gardens by the entrance. The town couldn’t afford to pay them anymore. Now, we took turns mowing, and weeding, in small groups, on Saturdays.
I remembered when Judy left for the city. “Get out, Tommy. Get out of here. This place is dying. Go somewhere that’s living.”
“No. This place is my home. Everyone I know is here. Everything I know is here. Everything I care about is here.”
I’d watched it all die. Main street was shuttered and empty, and looked more like a block from a ghost town than the heart of a town.
Now, they were tearing down the bank. At least they were tearing it down, not leaving it to decay. Not leaving it as a reminder of how the town had died. Of how everything I’d worked for. Everything I’d believed in. Every dream I’d had. Had died.
I put on a fake smile, and told Jim, my neighbor, “Well. We’ve lost things before. We’ll survive.”
Jim nodded. “Yep. Things always change.”
“Yep,” I nodded. “Just wait. Things will get better. They have to.”
I watched the wrecking ball take down the other half of the clock. Then started the walk to my home, a few blocks away. And I wondered as I walked, “Who of us will be the last? Which one of us will be the last to let go, and move on?”
The town was dead. There was no town anymore. We all knew it. Just like we knew we were the last people who would ever live in it.
The world had changed.
That was too bad.
Our town had been such a good thing. Such a good thing.
Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 9th week. You can read about the challenge here. I’ve enjoyed writing for it every week so far. I never know what’s going to happen when I start to write. I just have to get out of my way, and let the story happen. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.