Oh, The Places You'll Go

Five Things Dan/Casey should throw away but can't bring themselves to

Notes: I asked for prompts, phoebesmum asked for this. Here it is.


Dan

1. Dan slept with a security blanket until he was thirteen (his father thought he'd gotten rid of it when he was seven but Dan had known how to be sneaky even then). It got smaller and smaller and more raggedy as the years went on until it was essentially a few strands of cotton held together by a hem.

Dan knows he should get rid of it, hasn't needed its help to sleep for years, even goes so far as to put it in the trash. But he can't do it. Has to take it out again and hide it away at the back of his drawer. He isn't sure if he has it because he wants to remember or because he's never let go.

2. Joanie Blume, sophomore year of high school. The first girl to ever send Dan a love note. It was passed the length of the class with accompanying whispers and giggles. By the time it reached him, Dan was fiery red and hiding behind a text book. It was a simple note, three reasons why he was the cutest boy in the class and signed off with that four letter word that made all other four letter words pale into insignificance.

Dan is older and wiser now. In point of fact, he was older and wiser just three weeks later when he intercepted almost the exact same note going to Jake Bennett. So he learned early that love is fickle, so what? It's still the first time anyone that wasn't his mom had used that word about him and he is hanging on to the evidence.

3. Dan has a state of the art stereo system. He has those speakers that appear tiny and useless but are louder than the foghorn on the Staten Island Ferry. He has a multi-CD changer that can keep him going all night and a turntable with a needle so balanced it rides the grooves on his vinyl like a surfing champion. But in his bedside table is a simple cassette, magnetic tape worn thin with overuse. Dan never dares play it in case it snaps, and he has the whole thing on DVD now anyway but it doesn't matter because when he holds the tape in his hands he's a kid again, drunk on Russ Hodges' voice repeating over and over 'The Giants win the Pennant! The Giants win the Pennant!'

There's no technology in the world can replace that.

4. Wedged in between the pages of Dan's mostly unthumbed biography of Bill Clinton are two tickets to the ballet, unused. He was going to go with Rebecca. Divorced Rebecca. I'm back, Danny! Rebecca. He was going to go. Right up until the moment he remembered how she had stomped all over his heart and he had not just let her but had asked her to wear high heels while doing it.

Well, damn, he'd thought. He'd spent enough time in therapy to know that wasn't healthy, not for anyone. So he called her and cancelled then spent the rest of the night getting drunk and staring at the tickets.

He woke up the next morning feeling better than he had any right to do given the amount of alcohol he'd consumed. He should have thrown the tickets away then and there but he keeps them and they remind him of what could have been and what he's glad isn't.

5. Dan's ashamed of this one. Really ashamed. But no one will ever know, so it's OK. He keeps a torn square black and silver foil wrapper in a small box shoved in the back of his wardrobe. He hasn't looked at it in years, doesn't need to. But it's there. And anytime his faith is shaken about Jaegermeister and the actualities of something untoward he knows he has proof. Maybe he can never share it with anyone, the irony of him bearing a cross alone does not escape him, but at least he knows the truth. And if that's all he'll ever have, he'll take it.


Casey

1. Somewhere in the back of his wardrobe, under the busted tennis racquet and stacks of old newspapers (all with his byline) there's a beat up canvas bag. The zipper is rusty and stiff from years of disuse. The faded blue canvas has a musty smell that suggests it's been round the block a few times. It has followed Casey on all his travels since he left high school and has never once been opened; only exposed to the light of day for the merest flicker of time each moving day. With every year further away from the boy he was then Casey resolves never to think of it, never to look at it, but he knows he will never throw it away.

Two simple items hide inside that bag. A singlet and a pair of shorts, symbols of Casey's almost-promising gymnastics career. They are creased and stained with his sweat and perhaps with something else. Casey doesn't dare look because they remind him of when he was more himself than he can ever be now. He doesn't throw them away because in order to forget, he first has to remember.

2. Casey keeps a copy of his wedding service in a manila envelope in his desk drawer. Part of him can't understand why he keeps it — Lisa and he hurt each other so much over the years that it seems dumb to remind himself that they were ever together.

But they were. And there was love once, of a sort, and there was content, if not happiness. And warm arms around him in bed and night and a son that he loves above his life. Casey doesn't want to forget that, no matter how bitter the games became, how distorted the love. So he keeps the booklet — pristine, thick, cream card holding between them words of joy and union. And sometimes he runs his fingers over the embossed letters of his name and wonders if he will ever do this again.

3. Casey's music collection is not extensive. He has a few CDs and some old cassettes that he can play on a small tape recorder he keeps in his bedroom. There's nothing challenging, nothing avant garde — it's not that Casey doesn't appreciate the likes of Tom Waits, it's just that he wants music to soothe, not make him angry or depressed or, you know, any way agitated.

So there's one cassette that sits gathering dust, the hand drawn cover informing anyone that might look that this is a Punk Palace. The Sex Pistols are on there, The Clash, he thinks probably some Buzzcocks but he only ever listened to it once and that was years ago. Kirsten Sheldrake had made it for him — the first and only mixtape he'd ever gotten from a girl. She'd wanted to share her love of punk (and a whole lot else) with him, but when he'd failed to reach the requisite level of enthusiasm she'd turned her attentions elsewhere. Casey keeps the tape as proof that he's at least worth the time it took to put it together. He finds it reassuring.

4. Charlie has always loved to draw. Lisa used to hand him a coloring pad and a box of Crayola whenever he was in his worst temper tantrums and it worked as a perfect distraction technique. Casey has always been his son's biggest fan, sticking his picture offerings on the fridge, in his study.

When Casey leaves home he misses Charlie's drawings. He tells him so. Every time after that when he goes to pick Charlie up Casey receives a sheaf of pictures, knights in battle, Babe Ruth at bat, a spaceship he invented. After a while he runs out of surfaces. He thinks he's going to need a whole new file cabinet if Charlie keeps up this rate of production. He should weed them out and just keep his favorites but if he throws them away, won't he be letting Charlie down? Again?

So instead he smiles as Charlie hands over the new batch, says thank you and makes a mental note to rearrange his storage.

5. Casey knows it's dumb. He's known it's dumb for what feels like forever. But once there was a perfect night with the perfect guy and okay, so maybe the not-so-perfect hangover the next day and it was so perfect that he can't help but hold on to the hope that maybe it meant something. It doesn't matter that years have passed with Danny giving no sign of remembering, of wanting to remember, the fact is, it happened. And dumb or not, if hope's the only thing Casey has then he'd be a damn fool to throw it away.


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