Thanks for everyone who read and gave feedback to The Return Home. It is, I forgot to mention, the first in a trilogy. And I do believe you guys would enjoy the other two stories coming to follow it up! Promise!

Now this is my take on Maria's real reason for breaking up with Michael J

Fingers Stop Strumming

"Everyone thinks I broke up with Michael because he kept me from what I loved most—my music. A lot they know! Even Billy, who was the only other person mired in the circumstances leading up to it, thought that I was drawn to that kiss because he could touch me in the one part of me even Spaceboy could not. How can these people be so dense, huh? Don't they know that breaking up with that utterly infuriating guy is what would keep me from the most important passion in my life?

"But you know I've had a lot to deal with. You're the only one who really knows everything. I don't tell Liz half as much as I tell you. I've talked to you every night and I guess you suspect, even when I don't say it directly.. I'm ready to talk about it now. Hopefully you'll understand.

"I kept that guitar under my bed for so long because I could not bear the truth. What girl could accept something so final? My best friend, a guy I have treated and loved more than my own brother if I had one, was dead. I didn't want to think about it. I didn't want to acknowledge the immaturity of my thoughts. I stopped singing so I wouldn't remember. Even the simplest songs would remind me. Every melody would give me memories of having once been part of the Whits.

"Seeing Billy hold that guitar just brought all the feelings I've tried to stamp down back  up, where I'm forced to acknowledge them.

"Liz hurts so much now. Her parents have fought for the first time in ages about that robbery Liz was involved in. Yes, I know. Totally unlike her. But it happened.

"The sheriff was fired, bringing Kyle's life so much chaos and confusion I feel sad for him, no matter how humorous the situation could have been.

"I… never mind me. The worst is… you died. And I can't help but ask… If we never met them at all, would this all have happened still? Maybe if those aliens didn't pop into our lives, we'd all be the same. I'm sorry for being so unreasonable, because they saved Liz's life.

"I just hurt so much, that's all. It's just grief talking.

"And I can't get it out of my head after almost a year. Knowing them killed you.

"And dammit all, I still hurt.

"I hurt with every tear I shed when I hold this guitar close, and I look at our pictures. Coz you're so young and bright. Coz you're so sweet and coz you really loved me. Coz I miss you. I miss you so much."

Maria kissed the photograph she held, of her and Alex together. Liz had taken the picture, and it was slightly skewed, but Maria didn't mind. It was still her favorite Alex and Maria picture, coz Alex was smiling so big there. She returned the picture to its place at the mirror and walked over to the bed, slipping the guitar underneath. And then she took it out again and laid it on the bed. Maria climbed in and curled beside it on the sheets.