time was still.

The year was 1986. Ed had been working at the Rockland County Psychiatric Center for 18 years. He had only just turned 41, but he knew it was his last birthday that he could be here.

It was his first year working for the center when he was taking a stroll around the campus to get a feel for his new home, that he stumbled into the residential church, and met his future wife. Gail was beautiful. She had long blonde hair, piercing green eyes, and marvelously soft facial features to the point that closing one's own eyes in her presence was not nearly as relieving as tracing the outlines of her brows, following the bridge of her nose, past her philtrum, and finally, to her delicate scarlet lips. She didn't believe in the words the preacher was speaking. She was simply there as a spectator, denying Heaven or Hell, only offput by her frequent exclamations of "Jesus Christ" when caught off guard, by handsome man, or streaking patient.

Ed swore he knew her from somewhere, but couldn't put his finger on it. It was only after she was going through their old belongings to prepare for the move that she found his high school diploma, over a decade and a half later, that he discovered that they went to the same high school. She was sent to private school the same year he attended, and so they only exchanged a handful of passing glances in the halls in the first few weeks of Ed's freshman year.

In 1972, when Gail became pregnant with their first son, Eric, she made it clear that they needed to start saving for him early, if they ever wanted him to go to college. With that, Ed would have to give up on his gambling habit, and he obliged. However, he began to find loopholes in her pleas, and heavily invested in lotto. Over the next decade, Ed would buy two lotto tickets a day, every day, not missing one chance to win big, insisting that the New York State Lottery was Eric's best chance for a proper education. Gail accrued disdain for the selfishness of choosing to throw money into the wind on such a low probability game, but nevertheless, allowed the habit to continue, but not without a sassy quip as he left for the convenience store, along the lines of, "I'm the only lottery you need" or, "I'd be less surprised to find you eaten by a shark, than finding you with a winning ticket."

These retorts came to no avail, as Ed walked to the corner store for the last time on Wednesday, March 25, 1987.

On Wednesday, March 25, 1987, Eric had a baseball game.

And yet, I walk through the rooms of 118 Blaisdell Road, now long abandoned, and I see nothing. I find empty beer bottles , and chipped paint, and rotten floorboards, and fragments of a past life, but the memories are gone. No one to tell me how Eric wanted to leave behind his trophies because at just 14 years old, he had painted the world a dreadful slate color, and he insisted "they're just reminders that I used to be better." No one to tell me that Gail couldn't get the damn projector to work, so she just left it behind because it would only annoy her until she would just throw it out anyway, and she bit her scarlet lips with frustration until they were bright red. No one to tell me that Jake, the family dog, ran away on Tuesday, March 24, 1987, and no one ever found him, so they didn't bother to bring his toys, and in time, his optic yellow tennis balls turned dirt brown. No one to tell me if they're all okay, no one to tell me if Jake ever found a home, or Eric ever found hope, or if Ed ever found the winning lottery ticket, or if Gail ever found God.

Nothing.

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