Theo doesn’t live in Chicago anymore. It took countless below freezing days in a stupid thermal jacket to convince him to pack his bags. People told Theo he was crazy, to leave Chicago without a place to go or a job to support himself.
They told him, “Why would you leave the city in spring? Summer is coming and it will make the months of darkness worth it.” But Theo doesn’t really like Chicago summers either. So Theo went to the Amtrak station and scanned the list of cities for one that sounded warm. He bought a cup of hot chocolate and a bag of peanuts and finished them in the lobby while he waited for his train.
He smiled at a woman with a little boy asleep in her lap. She hung her feet over a large suitcase and jiggled one foot in the air. She was heading somewhere. And so was Theo.
He boarded his train, watched the wind shake the trees and turn out umbrellas as the train left the station. It was warm when he got off; he unzipped his jacket and rested a hand on his neck. This was Charleston, South Carolina, and a faint breeze tickled the hairs on Theo’s face.
There was no overachieving younger brother in Charleston to show Theo up; there’s no one to remind Theo what he could have been. Just the sounds of jazz coming from a small cafe and houses with big porches, every one of them. There was no girl at the lake telling him that his hair was dirty. If there was a girl like that in Charleston, Theo couldn’t tell. They were all smiling faces from where he was standing. No, this was not Chicago. The smell of the ocean reached his nose and Theo couldn’t wait for what summer would bring.
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