There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed,
Some forever not for better,
Some have gone and some remain.
All these places had their moments,
With lovers and friends I still can recall,
Some are dead and some are living,
In my life I've loved them all.
In My Life by The Beatles
His final year. He could hardly believe that it had gone so quickly and yet, here he was on his last day at Rydell High. He had accepted his graduation certificate with pride, well aware of how much hard work he had put into studying that year. He had plans for his future but everything had depended on getting those high grades.
As he strut around the fairground with the other guys from the basketball team, Mike realized that more had come to an end than just his days at Rydell; this would be the last time they were all together as a team. Tomorrow was the start of the summer vacation when many of them either started summer jobs or went away with their parents but, unlike previous years, there would be no reunion in the Fall. This year they would all go their separate ways in the world.
Tom was going into the army, following on in a family tradition that could boast officers at West Point to before the Civil War. He could already see him, standing on parade, straight and tall like his father, marching in time to the drum, indistinguishable from hundreds of other soldiers except for the markings of rank on his sleeve.
Arnold had obtained the grades he needed for acceptance at Medical School and Mike had no doubts that he would make a good doctor. Arnold had always been the one everyone turned to whenever there were any injuries on the field, willingly placing themselves into his capable hands and letting him bind any sprains, and clean cuts and grazes.
Mike had always known he would not be following in his own father's footsteps. The idea of spending the rest of his working life behind a conveyor belt in a factory held no appeal whatsoever. He had worked hard and had gained that coveted scholarship to Yale, planning to study Law and, perhaps, return to this small town to start up his own business.
Lost in thought, Mike did not realize Tom had come to a sudden halt in front of him; he slammed into Tom's back, wincing as he bounced back off the more solidly built quarterback.
"Would you look at that."
Mike glanced over Tom's shoulder, not seeing anything unusual until...
"Is that who I think it is? Danny Zuko of the T'Birds wearing a Rydell letterman?"
Tom shook his head in wonder. "Now I've seen it all."
"Thought it was weird enough when he tried out for the basketball team. Damn near ruptured my gut when he hit me."
"Jeez... look over there."
Their eyes followed Arnold's pointing finger, and Mike felt his lower jaw drop. From her peroxide blond, permed hair to her skin tight satin pants she was the female sex personified and every red-blooded American boy's dream. He swallowed hard, feeling the tight grip of Tom's hand crushing his biceps, bringing tears to his eyes. He prised off the fingers, accepting the mumbled apology, his own eyes taken more by the stricken look on Tom's face than by Sandy's parading figure.
He heard Arnold's shocked exclamation and responded quietly. "Yeah, it is. Sandy Olsen."
His attention was still on Tom, seeing how his friend's face crumpled when Sandy made it obvious whom she had chosen. He tightened his lips, feeling Tom's pain, and wishing there was something - anything - that he could do to lessen it. Eventually he turned back to watch as this year's prime gossip couple finally came together leaving no doubt in anyone's mind as to the outcome. Meanwhile, another of the year's well-talked about couples had also reconciled and, from the looks of things, all were more than happy with the turn of events. Kenickie, Rizzo, Zuko and Sandy danced off, arm in arm, their entourage of T'Birds and Pink Ladies following on behind.
With a quick glance around, Mike slapped his two best friends on the shoulders. Leaving his arms where they lay, he guided them back into the mass of graduates milling about the rides, having to drag Tom away from the tormenting sight of the girl he loved going off with another.
Mike sighed as he closed the Year Book and replaced it in the box.
He wondered what had happened to all the people he had known, although some had always been destined to go far, their faces filling the small town paper with headlines of local girl/boy does good. Patti Simcox had been one of those but then, she had always been ambitious. She had gone on to marry a man destined to become the Governor of Illinois.
But what about the others? Had Kenickie and Rizzo stayed together? What about the rest of the Pink Ladies and the T'Birds? Were they even still in contact with each other after all these years?
He had kept in contact with Tom and Arnold, writing to each other several times a year. It was through one of Tom's letters that he learned that Sandy had married Zuko, and Mike had read the bitterness between the lines, remembering Tom's unrequited love for the pretty Australian girl. Soon after he had received another letter, from Tom's mother, saying he had been killed in the last of the action in Korea.
It had been a bitter blow and he could still recall that day when he had stood next to Arnold as they watched Tom's coffin being lowered into his grave. He had flinched at the gunfire salute and, desperately, had tried to hold back the tears as Tom's mother was handed a neatly-folded flag when all she wanted to do was hold her son again.
More years had passed since then. Arnold had graduated from Med school, got married, had a child, got divorced, but they rarely met up. Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas were the only times either of them returned to the small town of their birth.
Each time he returned he noticed just how much the town had changed, although the school was still the same as ever, just the style of the student's clothing changing through the years. The café where they used to hang out, drinking soda and listening to the juke box, had long since disappeared; replaced by a succession of fast food joints. It was a McDonald's now.
His own life had not exactly gone to plan. He had surprised everyone by graduating from Yale near the top of his year but, instead of accepting a lucrative position with one of the big law firms, he had opted to join the FBI.
"Mike? You up there?"
Mike smiled as he heard his lover's voice calling up to him, interrupting the flow of those memories. He heard footsteps on the rickety stairs that led up to the attic, and he leaned back into the arms that wrapped around him.
"What're you doing?"
He picked up the Year Book, tilting its cover so his lover could see what it was.
"Thinking about all the people and places in my life."
The book was taken from his hand, the pages flicked through until they reached his entry. He grinned at his lover's soft laughter, mesmerized by the long finger that caressed his young face in the old photograph.
"Such a baby then." The book was closed and placed back into the box. "Come on. Time for reminiscing is over. Plenty of time for that when we're old and gray."
He allowed his lover to draw him to his feet and, together, they descended the old staircase, but Mike could not help a single backward glance as he recalled the other faces in that Year Book.
Perhaps he would accept the invite to the school reunion after all.