While Empty Rooms Lonely Countries is listed to have 27 stories, there are actually 28. “A Lot Like the Ones Back in High School” is the book’s “ghost track”. While I like the idea of having a hidden story, I also made the decision to do this because this is the only story in the collection that is strictly fiction.
Victoria was talking now, the rest of them at the party listening with interest, standing there in Mark’s living room holding their drinks. There was music coming from a computer in the bedroom and the sound of Stephen mixing drinks in the kitchen. Victoria said, “It’s a lot like the ones back in high school, you know, the ones you have before an exam or something. Or before a big date with Tom March.” She grinned.
Laura sighed. “Tom March? I haven’t thought of him in years. God, he was beautiful.”
“A Lot Like the Ones Back in High School” is a fun little story. I’m fascinated by groups of friends like this one who stay in touch after high school and who have this kind of history. Having taught at a high school for a few years, it’s amazing how those four years have a profound impact on people’s lives, and in a lot of cases, what happens in that time stays with you.
Anyway, there’s a lot of history in this particular group, and I wanted to explore a part of that with a bit of a Barthelme-like twist.
Sadly, because the story is so short and makes its point by itself, there isn’t much else to say about this one outside of the fact that I had a lot of fun writing this one, and it was one of the first flash fiction stories I tackled.