If Only

EMAIL: dreamaway18@hotmail.com
SPOILERS: Maybe season 7
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Song: "I Will Remember You" by Sarah McLachlan
SUMMARY: A voice from the past plays with John Carter's emotions, adding a new wrinkle to his already deteriorating life.

I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

John Carter stared at his hands. They were good, strong hands; shaped fingers, distinctive fingerprints, long, flowing lines that stretched across the palms. His veins could be seen through the pale skin on his wrist, and John mournfully ran his fingers along the faint track mark scars that streaked his wrists. John's hands were smooth, untouched by blisters or calluses. It was difficult to callous one's hands when they spent the majority of their days in Latex gloves. The powder from many years of Latex gloves had softened the skin of his fingertips and palms, and, as John turned his hands over, had whitened his rounded fingernails. The back of his hand was rougher than the palm side - John observed profound wrinkles and dry skin over his knuckles. Silently he clenched his fist and watched the metacarpal bones slide beneath his skin. Anything to keep his mind off of it. Anything to keep his mind away from it.

Anything to keep his eyes away from the passionately kissing couple in the drug lock-up.

Luka and Abby had been in there for nearly ten minutes, and so far John had spent that time studying the tiled floor, the posters on the wall, his stethoscope, and now his hands. He had a total of two patients that day, both of whom required supplies from the drug lock-up, and John was forced to wait outside while Luka and Abby finished their "good morning" kiss. (The fact that was 3 o'clock in the afternoon obviously didn't seem to affect them.)

John kept his eyes lowered for more reasons than simple politeness. He was, admittedly, jealous. John had learned to not only appreciate Abby's intervention in May, he had become grateful for it. He had been thrilled when Abby had agreed to be his AA sponsor in October, but ever since that night, John felt a tremor of pleasure whenever Abby entered the room, or smiled at him, or laughed at one of his stupid jokes.

The tremor of pain he was feeling now, as he sat outside the drug lock-up, was an unanticipated side effect.

*But do I love her? Do I really love Abby Lockhart? Or do I love the fact that someone actually gives a damn for me? Or does she? Would I be the only one who gave a damn in the relationship if we ever got back together? And is that what I really want?* John wondered. *A one-sided relationship that consists of quick make-out sessions in the ER?* He glanced up at the door, then looked back to his hands. Too many questions. Questions had no place in a good, loving relationship. *I've had that before. It's never made me happy.*

Ever since he had checked into rehab, John had been contemplating his life up to that point - especially his love life. All John had needed at that time was someone to hold him and tell him that everything would be all right, and somehow, Dr. Benton's embrace hadn't quite matched that of a woman's. Several images appeared in his mind - Harper, Abby Keaton, Roxanne, and Elaine, none of which had ever amounted to true love. A flash of Lucy's smiling face quickly flickered in John's mind, but he squeezed his eyes shut to block the image out. *There was never a relationship with Lucy,* he convinced himself. *Sure, there were feelings . . . and that time in the suture room . . . but nothing more.*

Still, there was no denying that John had refused many dates since Lucy's death. What if Lucy hadn't been his student; would anything have happened? Would she have been any different than these insipid blondes who ended up leaving him? What if he hadn't been attracted to Lucy herself, but the feeling of endearing love he had felt in her presence? There was no way to know. The "what ifs" were what devastated John the most.

Meanwhile, Abby and Luka had not quite finished wishing each other good morning, and it wasn't looking like John was getting into the drug lock-up any time soon. "Screw it," John muttered loudly as he stood up and walked down the hall, trying not to glance into the window of the drug lock-up.

As he rounded the corner, a familiar scene formed in the ER - doctors bustling around as Kerry Weaver barked "Gang fight, GSWs, 2 major, 6 minor, ETA 2 minutes! Hurry up!"

"Actually, Chief, ETA right now!" Dave Malucci shouted as he tore out to the ambulance bay.

John watched the scene unfolding in front of him: Peter Benton and Cleo Finch bursting into the ER from the ambulance bay, pushing a gurney which held a screaming teenage boy, clutching his face as blood seeped through his fingers; Mark Greene following them with a gurney holding an unconscious boy with a hole in his chest; Malucci pushing a gurney holding a young, bleeding girl, with Elizabeth Corday perched on the gurney, administering CPR; Luka and Abby finally emerging from the drug lock-up and joining Malucci in bringing the girl to Trauma 1; Kerry attempting to give orders through the complete madness; the constant underlying wail of several ambulance sirens not quite in unison.

John observed the situation with his trained eye, then, quickly, he rushed to Mark's side. "What do we got?" he asked breathlessly, pushing through the paramedics and slipping on a trauma gown and gloves.

Mark looked up at John, then back down as he wheeled the gurney into Trauma 2. "I'm not sure you're supposed to be helping with this," he said tentatively, then turned to the paramedics and nurses. "On my count! One -"

"What do you mean, I'm not supposed to help you?" John demanded. "Weaver said that I could do traumas now!"

"One, two, three!" Mark and the paramedics moved the patient to the bed, then Mark quickly began to work. "The board says you already have two trauma patients, Carter."

John shook his head. "My patients are stable and waiting for a surgical consult," he protested. "Come on, Dr. Greene!"

Mark was silent, ignoring him as he worked. Frustrated, John rushed out of Trauma 2 and into Trauma 1. "What do we got?" he asked before cringing at the sight of Abby and Luka.

"10 year old girl caught in the crossfire of a gang fight, GSWs to chest and belly," Luka responded, not looking up from the patient.

"Pulse is low at 40, BP's 70 over 30," Abby added.

John ignored her as he set to work. "Get me a thoracotomy tray!" he shouted as he attempted to stop the patient's bleeding.

"I've already ordered one, Carter," Luka told him from across the gurney.

John glared at him. "Where's the sternal saw?" he called, looking away from Luka.

"Weaver's bringing it," Abby told him.

*Oh shit,* John thought suddenly. *Not Weaver-*

"Carter!" Kerry's siren of a voice was unmistakable. "What the hell are you doing here? You've already got two trauma patients!"

*Shit.* "I'm just helping out-"

"You know the agreement, Carter! Now go to your patients!" Kerry shouted.

John sighed, unwilling to give up just yet. He had a chance at a thoracotomy . . . "My patients are waiting for surgical consults," he informed Kerry.

Kerry just glared at him. "Then wait WITH them," she told him through gritted teeth.

John was speechless. "Luka needs my help-"

"Not really, Carter," said Luka. "I've got it from here."

Kerry gestured towards the door. "Out," she demanded.

John just stared at Kerry, then back at Luka, who didn't face him. "Fine," he snapped, ripping his trauma gown and gloves off and throwing them to the ground. He stormed out of the room, shoving the doors open with visible anger.

He had almost reached the lounge before hearing "Carter!" His shoulders stiffened but he kept walking, trying to force the fury from his mind. First the situation with Abby and Luka; now he was being thrown out of traumas. What was the point of trying any more? What was the point of caring?

"Carter!" A hand grabbed his shoulder and stopped him. John turned around, and, seeing Abby's concerned face, threw her hand from his shoulder and walked faster.

"Carter, what's wrong?" Abby caught up to him and stood in front of him. "Talk to me!"

John's furious glare nearly faltered as he looked into her eyes, but he quickly shook her off and walked around her. "You wouldn't understand," John told her through gritted teeth as he entered the lounge. "And don't you have a trauma to work on?" he added with a hint of cruelty as he slammed the door in her face.

Quickly he stormed to his locker and tore it open, snatching his coat and scarf from the hook. In a single motion he took off his lab coat and stethoscope and tossed them into the locker. He put his coat on, but bashed his hand into the metal locker as he pulled his arm through the sleeve. "DAMMIT!" he shouted as he rubbed his knuckles and kicked the locker. Angrily he slammed the locker closed and left the room, putting on his scarf as he rushed through the lounge door.

"Hey Carter," Randi said from the Admit desk. "You-"

"I'm leaving, Randi," John told her, not stopping. "My shift just ended!"

"You've got two messages!"

"Don't care!" The ER doors seemed to slipping farther and farther away from him.

"They're from Anna Del Amico!" Randi shouted.

John stopped cold, turning around slowly. "What?" he asked.

Randi waved two slips of paper around. "Anna Del Amico called twice in the last hour."

John slowly took the pieces of paper from her and studied them. "No number?" he asked.

Randi shook her head. "She said you already had it."

Awestruck, John carefully examined the pieces of paper that simply read "Anna Del Amico called for Carter" in messy handwriting. *Do I have Anna's number?* he thought desperately, racking his brain. *Did she ever give it to me? I know I have her mailing address, but what about her number?*

Randi tried not to grin as John attempted to hide his excitement from the messages. The entire ER had known that he had been head over heels for her - and apparently, as his face blushed slightly - still was. *And I got to give him the message,* she thought, pleased with herself.

John folded the papers in half and rubbed his eyes. God, he needed to talk to Anna. Why was she calling now - and why hadn't she called after he was stabbed? How had she felt when she heard about the stabbing, or about his addiction? John shuddered when he pictured the confused expression that had probably crossed her face when she had heard about him checking into a rehab center - for abusing drugs, no less. *She must think I'm a complete hypocrite,* he thought mournfully. *After Chase . . . could I ever face her again after I did exactly what Chase did?*

But what if she hadn't heard about it at all? She hadn't been very close to anyone at County, besides John - so how could she have known about any of it? Stabbings weren't exactly newsworthy enough to be reported through several states, so it wouldn't have been reported in Philadelphia. There was no way for her to know; John could tell her himself. She could hear the truth and not the terrible gossip that seemed to surround John wherever he went.

*I've still got to be honest, though,* John told himself. *I'll tell her about the stabbings, and about Lucy . . . but I've also got to be honest about the drugs. She'll understand if she hears it from me.*

"Thanks, Randi," he said softly, struggling to keep his cool as he once again headed towards the exit. It was like an answer to a prayer. Anna had called that day for a reason, and that reason, John thought as he stepped into the unseasonable sunshine, was fate.

Remember the good times that we had?
I let them slip away from us when things got bad
How clearly I first saw you smilin' in the sun
Wanna feel your warmth upon me, I wanna be the one

"John, you've been sitting there for 2 hours," Millicent Carter told him. "I need to use the phone!"

John looked up at her from the sofa, peeling his eyes away from the phone. "Just a minute, Gamma, I need to make a phone call." Millicent sighed and walked away.

John didn't hear her leave; he was fixated on the telephone in his lap. He knew how he felt about Anna - as most of the ER knew how he felt about her - but he couldn't muster the courage to call her. Such attraction, such desire . . . love, even? John had pondered his feelings about Anna Del Amico for years, and now for the last two hours he had been pondering them more intensely than ever. Her flowing blonde hair, beautiful throaty voice, rosy pink lips, and milky pale skin were, strangely, not what John first thought of when Anna entered his mind. The first things he thought of when Anna was mentioned were the expressions in her eyes. The cold stare she gave him when she was disappointed or angry with him, the warm glow that seeped from her eyes when she was pleased with him, the intriguing sparkle that lingered when she was overjoyed about something - he missed them all. Perhaps it was because they had never surpassed the bond of friendship that John did not long for her physically. He just needed to be in her presence, not necessarily in her arms.

*Although,* John admitted silently, *both would be nice.*

His eyes fell upon on the telephone once again. *Just call her, John,* he ordered himself. *You found her number so just call her!*

Taking a deep breath, John picked up the receiver, dialed three digits, and quickly hung up again - for the fifth time that day. *What if she called because she just found out about the stabbing?* he thought mournfully. *Or the drugs? How can I explain everything to her? Forget it, I can't do this!*

Suddenly the phone in his lap rang and John jumped out of his skin. Shakily he picked up the receiver. "Hello?"

"Carter? This is Randi, from County."

John breathed a sigh of relief. "Yeah, it's Carter. What's up, Randi."

"Have you called Dr. Del Amico back yet?" Randi asked, sounding slightly annoyed.

John hesitated. "Actually, I was going to do that right now."

"She's left 4 more messages in the last half hour, Carter." Randi was definitely annoyed. "Call her back already!"

"Didn't you tell her to call me here?" John asked, surprised.

"No, I wasn't sure if you wanted me to give out your grandparents' number," Randi answered.

"Yeah, sure," John said quickly. If Anna could call him, then he didn't have to call her! The pressure - at least, some of the pressure - was off!

"Ok, gotcha," Randi said. "Later, Carter." She hung up the phone.

"Later," John said absently. Now all he had to do was wait for Anna's call. He couldn't wait to hear her voice . . . he could just imagine her eyes melting in concern as he poured out his heart to her . . . the only woman to whom he would consider pouring his heart out. John looked down at the phone and stared at it, mentally willing it to ring.

I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

"Yes, Andrea, they do grow up quickly, don't they?" Millicent exclaimed into the phone. "My grandson John is coming up on his 30th birthday. Yes, I know!"

John sighed and picked up the remote control, flipping through channels. He had waited two more hours before surrendering the phone to his Gamma, whose "important phone call" had consisted of her weekly gossip exchange. True, she had only been on the phone for ten minutes, but John was becoming restless. What if Anna was trying to get through? What if she thought he didn't care enough to answer the phone - or, worse, what if she thought that he was on the phone with another woman? What if she had called that day because she'd just broken up with her boyfriend, and now she thought that he was on the phone with another woman?

But he had talked to Randi over two hours ago, and Anna hadn't called since then. As much as John was fearing it, he would probably have to call her himself.

"Gamma, I need the phone!" John hissed quietly. Millicent shot him an annoyed look and turned away from him.

"Andrea dear, I've got to go. Yes, we will have to get together sometime. All right. Goodbye!" Millicent hung up the phone and turned back to John. "Are you sure you're going to make the call now?" she asked, eyeing him carefully.

John gave her a shaky smile. "Yeah," he told her. "I am."

I'm so tired but I can't sleep
Standin' on the edge of something much too deep
It's funny how we feel so much but we cannot say a word
We are screaming inside, but we can't be heard

"Ring . . . ring . . . ring . . . ring . . . *click* Hi, you've reached 555-2662. No one's at home right now so leave a message at the beep."

*A message!* John thought, delighted. *Perfect! I can just return her call without talking to her!*


"Um, hey, Anna, it's John . . . John Carter." Aware of how much his voice was trembling, he cleared his throat and calmed himself. "It's . . . 7:15. I'm just returning your calls -"

"*Click* Hello?" A gruff voice picked up the phone and interrupted John's train of thought, as well as his message. "Who is this?"

John could not speak - the shock of the male voice had completely thrown him off. Quickly he slammed the phone into the receiver. Who had answered the phone? Anna's brother? Her father?

Her boyfriend?

John closed his eyes painfully. Of course. Max. John hadn't been aware that Anna was living with Max. *Now I am,* he thought bitterly. "How stupid was I to think -"

Suddenly the phone rang again, and John nearly screamed. He picked up the receiver with trembling fingers. "H-Hello?" he asked softly.

"Did you just call here?" a gruff voice asked.

For some reason John was paralyzed with fright. "Um, no," he said. "You must have the wrong number."

"I just pushed *69," the voice hissed. "It was you. Why the hell were you calling my house? You woke the baby!"

*Baby?* John wondered. *They have a baby?* "I-I'm sorry-"

"Hey Maria!" the voice suddenly yelled into the background, "he's sorry! Aren't you glad that he's SORRY??"

"Um, I hope you don't mind my asking, but - is this the residence of Anna Del Amico?" John asked tentatively.

"Del Amico?" the man asked. "Nah, we bought this place from them three months ago. Piece a' crap, too-"

"All right, sorry to bother you, bye!" John said quickly as he hung up the phone. He sighed with relief and leaned back into the sofa. Max hadn't answered. Anna wasn't living with him. There was still a possibility that she wanted to get back together with John.

But a bigger problem now presented itself - how would he get to talk to Anna if the only number she had given him was wrong? The more John thought about it, the more pained he felt with every second that passed when he didn't hear Anna's sweet voice. He HAD to talk to her.

And I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

"Write her a letter," Chuny offered as she took a bite of pizza.

John contemplated this as he took another piece of pizza from the box. "I don't have her address," he told Chuny. "She moved, remember?"

Chuny shrugged and swallowed the pizza. "Then find it. There's nothing more romantic than a love letter."

Conni nodded enthusiastically and raised her slice of pizza. "Hear, hear," she agreed.

John had just begun his afternoon shift after tossing and turning all night about Anna. Unwilling to face Mark, Kerry, Luka, or especially Abby, John had sought refuge with the nurses in the lounge - and ordered a pizza. The afternoon had started out as the nurses pressing John for information, and once they had received it, they would not be content until they had completely helped John with his long-lost love life.

"What about calling information and getting her new number?" Lydia suggested.

"I tried that," John said miserably. "If she's still in Philadelphia then she's unlisted." He sighed. "I don't even know if she's even in Philadelphia anymore. She could be anywhere."

"Has she called since yesterday?" Conni asked.

"I don't know. Randi said that she called six times yesterday but never left a number. I told Randi to tell Anna that she should call my grandparents' house, but Anna never called there." John slumped over in his seat. "Maybe I should give up."

Suddenly Conni's eyes lit up. "Wait wait, don't give up yet! I'll be right back!"

Confused, John watched her leave. "Where's she going?"

Lydia shrugged. "Who knows." She took two more pieces of pizza and loaded them onto her plate.

"I'm telling you, Carter, a love letter is the way to go," Chuny lectured him, her mouth full of pizza. "There's not a woman around who won't melt at your feet if you write them a letter expressing your undying love for them."

"Much better than some stupid phone call," Lydia added. "I wouldn't be surprised if she caught the next flight to Chicago if you wrote her a love letter."

John considered this again. He had definitely lost his nerve when he was going to call her, and his blood ran cold at the thought of spilling his guts to anyone - even Anna - over the phone. A letter would definitely relieve his anxiety, and he could probably write more eloquently than he could speak over the phone, anyway. There was just too much to say and not enough breath to say it.

Suddenly Conni burst into the lounge, clutching a piece of paper. "Ok, I've got good news and bad news," she told John. "The bad news is, Anna is unlisted." John groaned. "Good news-" Conni had a gleam in her eye - "I found her new address!"

"What?!" John exclaimed, snatching the paper from Conni's hand. "How?"

"The amazing power of the internet," Conni said happily.

John could only stare at the page in his hand. "Anyone have any writing paper?" he asked softly. He knew when opportunity stared him in the face - and this computer runoff was as good of an opportunity as any.

I'm so afraid to love you, but more afraid to loose
Clinging to a past that doesn't let me choose
Once there was a darkness, deep and endless night
You gave me everything you had, oh you gave me light

"Gamma?" John yelled, storming into the mansion and tossing his scarf onto a chair. "Gamma, where are you?"

The rest of John's shift had been as awful as the day before - he had been subjected to yet another Abby/Luka encounter AND had faced the wrath of Kerry for his bad attitude and his leaving his two patients waiting for consults yesterday. Not to mention the fact that everyone's suspicions about his drug use had resurfaced and he had to go through an uncomfortable "random" urine test. *Just because I have a bad day doesn't mean I'm back on drugs,* he thought bitterly. All this unpleasantness made it very difficult for him to write a pleasant letter to Anna.

And now his grandmother, the one person who he wanted to talk to right now, seemed to be missing. "GAMMA!" he hollered. Suddenly a blinking light caught his eye.

John walked over to the answering machine and pressed the message button. "You have - two - messages," the machine told him. John's ears suddenly perked. "Did Anna call?" he asked no one in particular. Two messages meant that there was twice as good of a chance that she could have called.

"First message, sent - four fifty three PM."

"John, it's Gamma," Millicent's voice came through the machine, and John sighed in disappointment. "I didn't know what time your shift ended so I went to town for the evening and gave everyone the night off. Just in case you're home for dinner I had Angela fix you a little something and put it in the refrigerator. I'll see you later dear, bye."

John sank into an armchair and contemplated his evening. An empty, peaceful house was the perfect atmosphere for writing a letter. "I don't really feel like writing a letter anymore," he grumbled. "I'm not feeling too prosaic."

"Next message, sent - six twelve PM."

"John, it's Anna." John snapped back to reality upon hearing Anna's voice; he listened intently. "I guess I missed you again. Anyway, call me. I really have to talk to you. It's pretty important. Actually . . . it's very important. I need to know how you feel - actually, I'd rather talk to you and not your machine about this. You have my number-"

"No I don't!" John cried.

"-so call me when you get in. Bye. *Click*"

"Dammit!" John yelled. "All I need is your number!" What could possibly be so important that Anna would call seven times over two days? Frustrated, John's eyes swept the room - and settled on the desk.

*It's not a love letter,* he reminded himself. *I'm just writing down what I can't say on the phone.* Quietly John sat down, opened the drawer and removed out a pen and paper, and took a deep breath. It was time to tell her. It was time for the truth.

And I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

"Dear Anna,

How are you doing? We haven't spoken in such a long time, which is why I was surprised to hear that you had called after so long. It seems that I only have your old phone number, which is why I was unable to call you back. But there will be time for that later. I need to tell you some things that can't be held back any longer.

"First of all, I am not sure as to how much you have heard about what has happened to me in the last year. There was an accident at the hospital -"

John frowned and scratched his head. An accident? A violent stabbing was considered an accident to him? Irritated, he crossed out the entire sentence.

"On Valentine's day of this year my med student and I were attacked by a patient. I had a colostomy after being stabbed several times in the back, and I couldn't walk for a period of time. My student was killed."

John stopped writing when he realized that his teeth were gritted. He had not realized how difficult it was for him to talk about that night. *It just sounds too blunt,* he thought, chewing on the end of his pen. *Then again, it's hard to be poetic when you're talking about something like this.*

"After it happened I went through a deep depression. I felt completely victimized - and yet I felt guilty too. I felt responsible for my student's death. I still do, at times."

John stopped and tried to shake the thought of Lucy from his mind.

"What came after the attack is almost as bad as the attack itself, and I'm sure you'll see it that way. I became addicted to my painkillers. I was so depressed, yet so angry and in so much pain. I hurt physically because I hurt emotionally. I began taking more painkillers than necessary, just to get through each day. But soon I was addicted. I can't even tell you how ashamed I am, Anna. One of my friends caught me injecting fetanol in a trauma room, and she reported it to Kerry. The staff got me to rehab where I stayed for 90 days to get off of my addiction. I am now 100% clean.

"It hadn't been easy since I got back. I am only allowed to work on a few traumas at a time, and everyone looks at me warily when I handle a needle. I'm forced to give urine samples and attend AA and NA meetings. It's been anything but easy. The staff at County was helpful in getting me to rehab but I find that now they are increasingly uncomfortable in my presence, even more so than when I first came back after the stabbing. Kerry Weaver is constantly on my back, Mark Greene hates being near me, and the rest of the staff just sit back and gawk at me, like I'm some kind of criminal. Nothing is the same. I dread going to work because I know I'll just become angry by the end of the day. I hate myself when I get that angry, but I can't help it. I've been angry since I was stabbed, and the only thing that cheered me up was the drugs - and now that drugs aren't an option anymore, I find myself constantly angry with the world.

"That's why your calls have helped me so much. The first day you called, I immediately forgot about my terrible day and focused on calling you back. I wondered the entire day about what you wanted to talk to me about. My memories of our friendship brought back all sorts of feelings - feelings that I had shoved away when you left."

John tensed as he contemplated what to write next. He had to tell her.

"I might as well say it. My feelings for you have never been those of simple friendship. I think I'm in love with you, Anna. I think I've always been in love with you. Whenever you were around me I felt completely content and happy. I had never felt that happiness in my entire life, and I haven't felt it since. Only when I had heard that you had called did I finally feel it again. I miss you more than I ever thought I could miss anyone.

"My student reminded me of you. She was strong - she never took any crap from me and she knew when she was right. She fought for what she believed in. This is only one of many, many things that I admire in you. I didn't appreciate her until it was too late. I hope it isn't too late for you and me. Please tell me it isn't too late! I have tried to get over you, but it can't be done. Did you ever know how I felt? And how do you feel about me? I am dying to talk to you. Please call me again; I can't wait to hear your voice again."

*How to sign it, how to sign it . . .*

"Love, John."

John leaned back, observing his piece of work. It was no masterpiece; it wasn't even very good. But hopefully it got his point across.

Suddenly the familiar revving of a truck echoed from the front yard. *The mail truck!* John thought frantically. Hastily he snatched the letter, stuffed it into an envelope, stuck a stamp on it, scrawled the appropriate addresses, and rushed out the front door, slamming the door behind him.

"Ring . . . ring . . . ring . . . ring . . . click - 'Hello, you've reached the Carter residence. We have missed your call - please leave a message at the tone. Thank you. BEEP!' "

"Geez, John, are you just never home or something? It's Anna, if you haven't guessed already. I just . . . really, really need to talk to you. Something is going to happen and I really want you to be prepared for it. I can't tell you any more, I'm on a pay phone. But please! Call me! Do you not have my new number or something? It's 555-5646. Damn, I shouldn't have said that, now all of downtown Philly knows my number. If you don't call me tonight, then . . . then it will be too late. Is it too late? Is that why you're not returning my calls? I didn't want to hurt you again, John. I didn't want you to find out like this. Please call me as soon as you get this message. We need to talk. Bye." BEEP!

And I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

"Hey! Stop!" John yelled, frantically running after the mail truck. "I've got something I need to send out!"

The truck abruptly stopped, and the driver leaned out the window and glared at John. "Should have been in the mailbox!" he shouted crossly.

John caught up to the truck. "I just finished writing it," he said, out of breath. "Please take it! It's very important!"

The driver took the letter and examined it. "Love letter to your girlfriend, eh?" he asked with a mischievous glint in his eye. "I see."

John blushed. "She's not my girlfriend," he informed the driver. "And it's not a love letter." *Why am I even explaining it to this guy?*

The driver grinned. "Yeah, sure." He started the engine again and stuffed the letter into his bag. "Good luck!" He drove off, leaving John and a cloud of dust behind him.

"Thanks," John mumbled. "I'll need it." Slowly he walked to his house, kicking a rock as he strolled. He had done it. He had done what he had feared to do for so long. "Love makes you do crazy things," he chuckled, kicking another rock.

The rock bounced off of the porch step and landed near the base of his mailbox. *I should get the mail for Gamma,* he thought as he opened the box and scooped the numerous letters out.

"Bill for Gamma, bill for Gamma, letter for Gamma, postcard for Gamma," recited John as he shuffled through the mail. Suddenly his eye caught his name, written perfectly on a pristine white envelope.

"What's this?" he asked no one in particular as he slowly opened the envelope. Inside the envelope was yet another envelope, this one with his name written in the upper left hand corner. Curiously, John opened the first envelope further and took out a piece of lace. He unwound the lace to find a paper as thin as tissue paper, with the words:


John was too stunned to breathe. He broke out of his trance momentarily as his eyes welled with tears and he read the words once more, just to see if he got them right the first time. "So this is why she wanted to talk to me" was the only thing running through John's mind as his face clenched in agony and anger. He had been too late, after all. Anna would receive his letter - John moaned as he remembered what he had written - and tear it to pieces, just as she had torn his heart to pieces, and just how John now tore the flimsy tissue paper to pieces.

If only.

Weep not for the memories

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