I'm standing in the liquor store parking lot under gray, swirling skies. It's the same liquor store where I bought my first legal beers -- a four pack of Boddington's Pub Ale pint cans -- eight years ago. I had left Mercer County a year later without so much as a second thought.
Mercer County is where I spent my college years. My college years were not good to me. Walking through the store, tucked back from the roaring highway traffic, I felt the ghost of who I was tugging at my sleeve, looking for help to drag around a metric ton of fears and insecurities.
I pay for what I came for, and the store clerk doesn't even card me. It's been eight years, after all. Out in the daylight, the apparition dissipates. I start the engine, put my car in reverse, and ease off the clutch. Moving out into traffic, I glance in the rear-view mirror, and then back again to the road. I remind myself that the past is dead people.