I do not own The Lovely Bones
July 3rd, 1992.
Buckley stared at the New York Times magazine on the counter. He was now twenty-two, fully grown and had moved away from home three years before.
He had lost his baby fat but still had slightly pudgy cheeks. His blonde shaggy hair wrapped around his head and he looked at his page in the magazine boringly. His bright blue eyes echoed the sea, and had been told countless times at family functions he'd inherited his mother's "ocean eyes".
All around him were bright colored flowers. Vases, watering cans, seed packets for plants, fruits and vegetables, and gardening supplies, but mostly he was surrounded by flowers.
He lived in the same town of Norristown, Pennsylvania. He lived a fifteen minute drive to his childhood home, where his parents still lived happily. He had befriended the flower shop's owner and gotten a job there right after high school. A year into the job he began renting the apartment above the flower shop. It was a small apartment; the kitchen, living room and bedroom all one room and the bathroom was extremely small. He didn't mind the small space, since he had his garden at his parents' home and he never had friends or family over.
His life was average. He had enough friends and was very close knit to his family. He was content and didn't need any more.
He looked up from the New York Times when he heard the bell above the door chime and a costumer walked in.
A young girl, in her late teen's maybe? Dark brown hair curled around her face and seemed to drop down to her lower back. Her body curved around her hips and her legs were pale and toned. The girl looked like a zombie, a depressed looking zombie. Her eyes were red and puffy, cheeks tear stained and she wore a baggy grey hoodie and blue jean shorts with dirt stained sneakers.
She walked around the shop for a few minutes and Buckley's eyes followed her. She finally grabbed a dozen yellow roses and brought them up to the counter. Buckley moved the New York Times aside as he rung up the price for the roses.
He kept looking back at the girl as he typed in the numbers into the cash register and watched as she pulled out dollar bills and quarters from her pockets. "Thirteen ninety five please." Buckley said to her.
She dropped her money on the counter and counted with quivering hands. Buckley counted in his head to make sure it was correct, and the girl handed him all of her money. "Would you like a bag?" he asked. She shook her head and as she grabbed the flowers, she mumbled in a shaky voice, "What's a funeral like?"
Buckley half smiled. 'Ah. She's a mourner.' He studies her one last time before saying, "You know what, I'm sure the person you bought these for, would have loved them."
And with that the girl left the shop as quickly as she came.
Three hours later.
Buckley is still at the counter, this time sitting on a stool eating ramen noodles he brought down from his apartment. It's high noon and the shop's phone is pressed up against his ear and his right shoulder.
"Are you still coming to dinner tonight Buck?" Jack Salmon asked at the other end of the phone. Buckley slurped up some of his noodles before answering, "Of course dad. I can't live off ramen noodles forever plus I love mom's cooking. Is Lindsey, Samuel and the kids gonna be there?" Buckley asked.
He could hear Jack chuckle at the other end of the line, "Of course. It wouldn't be a barbeque without them."
"Great! I can't wait to see the twins."
"Coming from the guy who saw them three nights ago." Jack said matter-of-factly. Buckley rolled his eyes, "They're the smartest five year olds I know. And Susan and them get along so well. And they're my nieces and nephew, I love seeing them."
Jack laughed, "No need to explain. I feel the same way son."
Buckley checked the clock on the wall of the shop, "Hey dad I gotta go. My lunch break's almost over and I gotta finish up and get back to work."
"Say no more. See you tonight Buckley. I love you."
Buckley smiled as he walked to the phone's receiver, "I love you too dad. See you tonight." and he hung up the phone. He had gotten use to his father saying I love you after saying goodbye to his children. It has become a well-known factor after…, after Susie died. Normally, parents don't always say I love you after goodbyes, at least the parents he knew. But after his older sister's death, his father made it a big deal to make sure any time he'd leave his children or they'd leave or they'd hang up, he'd say I love you so they'd know it.
As soon as he hung up the phone the door chimed. Buckley signed. Looks like he wasn't going to finish his lunch while it was still hot.
When he turned around he saw the same girl from earlier in the day, the mourner.
Her face was now clean and her curled dark hair was pulled into a pony tail. She smiled shyly at Buckley and walked up to the counter. He kept a poker face and sat back at the stool, pushing his bowl aside.
"Oh, don't let me stop you. I'm not gonna buy anything." She said quickly. Buckley glanced at her, then pulled his bowl back and started spinning up noodles with his fork again.
She stared at him while he ate. He felt slightly uncomfortable with it so he finished off his fork full and pushed his bowl aside. "Can I help you?" he asked.
"Sorry." the girl murmured. "I just wanted to come in and say sorry for acting weird earlier." she explained nonchalantly. Buckley shrugged, "its okay. You're a first time mourner, aren't you? Or was it just your first funeral? Why else would you ask that question?"
The girl placed her elbows on the counter and rested her head in her hands. "Yeah. I didn't know how to handle it so I left home a week ago. Called home last night and found out today was the funeral. Spent all night driving just to make it in time. Her favorite flowers were yellow roses so I stopped to get them for her." the girl explained.
Buckley stared solemnly at the counter. "Do you mind me asking who it was who died?"
"My younger sister." the girl answered. Buckley tensed at the word 'sister'. "You guys must have known each other well." The girl chuckled, "Of course. We're only five years apart."
Buckley tensed again. He had just met this girl and already he was jealous of her. She knew her sister. They were probably close and her sister probably wasn't murdered a terrible death like his sister. She had memories with her sister they both remembered. He envied her and was sad she was able to cry for her sister and he wasn't. He had barely any memories of his sister Susie; after all he was only four when she was murdered. And the few memories he had are vague and short. Maybe her laugh, or her smile or her calling his name for dinner. But that was it. Everything else was pictures and stories his family told about her, which wasn't too often.
"How old was she? Your sister." Buckley asked. "Seventeen. She had leukemia. I don't really know the specifics about it all. I decided it was best when it all started to not get into it. The less I knew about it the better." The girl glanced at Buckley. "Sorry. I'm sure costumers don't normally come in here and start talking about death with you." Buckley shrugged, "Eh, its okay. But I don't really know you from anywhere. Is you're family new to town or something?" he asked.
She shook her head. "We moved here about four years ago when my sister was in remission. My mom wanted a new start in a new town and thought Norristown was a good idea. I didn't want to come along because I didn't want to start my senior year in a new school. I was allowed to stay with my grandparents and then I came down here to be with my sister, since her leukemia came back a month after my high school graduation." she explained.
"You look young. I thought you were eighteen when you walked in here before." Buckley said lightly. The girl laughed, "Sure. I think my face aged ten years from all the stress of this. I don't even look twenty-two anymore."
Buckley looked the girl over, "Can you talk to any of your family members about your feelings for all of this?" he asked. She shrugged. "My mom is a terrible mess, ever since we found out my sister was sick. If I even tried talking to her about it she'd yell at me. I once asked her what we'd do if my sister died and my mom blew up. She yelled at me and said it would never happen, and then she drove me to the hospital and made me say sorry to my sister for even thinking she might die from leukemia. My dad doesn't talk about her at all. If she was ever brought into conversation, even when she was alive and sick, he'd stay quiet and only answer with one word. And my older brother doesn't like the idea of death so he refuses to take it seriously and is always making jokes."
Buckley hopped on his stool, "Look it's a slow day and I kind of know what you're going through so…you can stay and talk to me if you'd like."
The girl looked at him and shrugged, "I don't want you to get in trouble for not working." Buckley shrugged, "I normally get all my work done at night when I can't sleep. So the day's boring unless we have an order we need to send out or people actually come in for flowers. I'm pretty sure I won't get in trouble for talking to a mourning costumer."
The girl gave him a sly smile, "I'm Alison Burly." She held out her hand to shake. Buckley accepted, "I'm Buckley Salmon, nice to meet you." "Nice to meet you too." She said. "So you said you know what I'm going through, right? Do you mind me asking who you lost?" she asked.
Buckley thought for a moment, "Well, I don't remember her all too well, but my older sister died when I was four." Alison's face grew sad, "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry." Buckley shook his head, "its okay. She's in a better place. The only thing that really bothers me is I have few memories of her." Alison sighed, "Here I am, talking about my sister just dying but I shouldn't even complain. I at least knew her and remember her. You hardly remember your big sister. I have no right to talk anymore. I am so sorry Buckley."
He shook his head, "No, no, it's fine. You can keep talking."
She shook her head, "No. Besides now I'm kind of curious. Is it okay if I ask how she died?" Buckley shrugged, "Well, she was walking home from school and a man from our neighborhood killed her in the cornfield behind the high school."
Alison covered her mouth, "I shouldn't have asked." she mumbled. He shook his head, "I don't mind talking about it. It was the biggest mystery in our town." he explained.
Alison shook her head, "I'm just…so sorry. I feel like crap for asking." Buckley chuckled, "Naw, its okay. I think I'm the only one in my family who can talk about her this lightly because I didn't know her that well. I'm fine talking about it."
"Do you have…any memory of her?"
Buckley shrugged, "Sometimes I can remember her laugh, or her calling my name. I remember one time she drove me to the hospital when she was thirteen because I choked on a twig in the backyard. That's about it."
Alison sighed, "I should go. I'm sorry I asked you all that."
Buckley shook his head, "I told you it's okay. You don't need to leave." Alison backed up to the door, "No I have to. I feel so terrible for asking I should just leave you alone. It was nice meeting you Buckley."
Buckley watched as she left the store. He sighed and continued eating his lunch.
"Mom! Dad! We're here!" Lindsey shouted as she walked into her old home. Lindsey was now thirty one and had been married to Samuel for almost ten years and together they had three children. The oldest was Abigail Suzanne who was almost nine and then twins, Stephen and Sydney who were both five.
The kids all ran into the house happily and found their way to the backdoor and out to their grandparents. Lindsey was accompanied by Samuel and they both walked outside happily.
"Hey Lindsey!" Jack called from the picnic table set up by the back door. "Hey Samuel!" he called quickly after.
The two walked outside and waved at Abigail who was standing by the grill and Jack who had already started playing with his grandchildren. Jack's face had grown old, his hair cut short with gray mixing in with the dark brown. He hadn't developed a small belly like older men did. If he dyed the gray in his hair and lost the few wrinkles from his forehead, he'd still look like the same Jack Salmon from nineteen years before.
"Hi sweetie!" Abigail said, hugging Lindsey. Abigail's hair was now cut short, curving right under her ears. She lacked the gray hair her husband had, since she had started dying it three years earlier. She had small wrinkles around her eyes but she still wore her bright smile and her eyes shinned bright at the sight of her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren.
"Where's Buckley?" Lindsey asked as she let go of her mother. Abigail laughed and hugged Samuel, "Where else? The flower shop. He probably won't get here for a little while longer."
"That boy is in too much of a hurry to grow up." Lindsey sighed. "Aw, leave him be. He's happy working and living on his own." Samuel said as he let go of Abigail. Lindsey shrugged and sat down next to her dad, "I'm just saying, I've never seen him do anything a normal teenager would do. He never went out to parties, or even went out that much at all if it didn't involve his garden. He has a handful of friends and have you ever seen him with a girlfriend?"
Jack chuckled, "Well I remember a certain teenage girl who loved sports and never wore makeup until her grandma started giving her makeovers. She only had one boyfriend, who she married soon after college and didn't go to parties either. Her family didn't worry about her so we shouldn't worry about Buckley." he explained, picking up Stephen and setting him on his lap.
Lindsey rolled her eyes as Samuel kissed the top of her head. "I guess us Salmon children are just odd balls." she mumbled, chuckling.
"Uncle Buckley!" Stephen and Sydney called happily when they saw Buckley walk out of the backdoor. They both, including Susan, ran up to Buckley and hugged him. "Did I miss anything good?" Buckley asked.
Lindsey and Jack eyed each other and then shook their heads, "Nope." they said in unison.
"So you were talking about me again." Buckley said sarcastically as he sat down next to Jack. "How do you know?" Lindsey asked. Buckley shrugged, "Considering the last three times I've seen you, you always talk about me."
"That's just because we worry about you." Abigail said, placing a plate of burgers on the picnic table. "What is there to worry about?" Buckley asked, confused. Abigail gave a look to Lindsey, and then returned to the grill. "Well?" Buckley said, staring his sister down.
Lindsey sighed, "Just your life in general. You're twenty-two, almost twenty-three, and you've never dated anyone. You have, like, three friends that we know of-"
"Five close friends, thank you very much." Buckley interrupted. Lindsey rolled her eyes, "Whatever. You live where you work, so you hardly go out unless it's food shopping or to mom and dad's house. We just want you to be happy and we're all, in a way, really concerned if you are happy." she explained.
Samuel cleared his throat, "I disagree. I think you're happy Buck. Lindsey's just a worrywart." Lindsey rolled her eyes again, "I am not."
Buckley held up his hands, "Look, I know it's kinda strange that I haven't had a girlfriend and I don't have that many friends but I'm content. You don't need to worry."
"That's just it!" Lindsey said, matter-of-factly. "You're 'content'! You never say 'happy'. It's always content with you. Now this was a last resort thought but Buckley," Lindsey paused. "Are you gay?"
Jack coughed nervously, "Lindsey is that appropriate dinner conversation?" Buckley had an offended look on his face, "I am not!"
"But Buckley, we'll still love you if you are." Abigail cut in. "But I'm not!" Buckley retorted. "Are you lying?" Lindsey asked. "Because you know you can tell us."
Buckley rolled his eyes, "I'm straight. To prove it would you like to see the Playboys under my bed?"
"Okay! Enough!" Jack said loudly. "Not in front of the kids." He said sternly, nodding to Stephen, Sydney and Susan sitting next to Lindsey. Stephen looked over at Samuel, "What's Playboy?"
Jack buried his head in his hands and Samuel gave Lindsey a look that read 'help me'. "Um, it's a special magazine just for adults." He said nervously. Lindsey glared at Buckley, "You're disgusting."
"Hey, if telling you about my secret stash will make you believe me when I say I'm not, it's totally worth it." Buckley said matter-of-factly. Lindsey sighed, "Why don't you get a girlfriend so you can throw those degrading magazines out?" she asked. Buckley shrugged, "I don't know any girls that I'm interested in." Abigail walked back up to the table, with a plate of corn on the cob and hot dogs. "Well I know some of my friends from my book club have daughters around your age. Want me to set you up?" she asked.
Buckley shook his head, "Blind dates aren't really my thing, mom." he said, sighing. Abigail took a seat next to him, "Well it was just a suggestion. Are their any girls who work at the flower shop?"
Buckley shook his head, "Just me, the boss and his son-in-law."
Lindsey thought for a moment as she took a paper plate, "I know this intern at my office you might like. It wouldn't be a blind date if you happened to meet at a party or something."
"No thank you." Buckley said sternly. "I'll date a girl when I find one I like. Right now I haven't."
"Because you don't go out." Lindsey shot back. "Fine, I'll go out more. I'll call up some friends tonight and make plans for the weekend."
Lindsey smiled, "That's all I'm asking. Thanks Buckley."
He rolled his eyes. 'Anything to get you to drop the subject.' he thought as he grabbed a burger and corn, avoiding the beans that were sitting in a container in front of him. He was still a picky eater like his younger self.
Buckley walked around to the back of the Flower Shop, unlocked the back door and stepped into the foyer. As he closed and locked the door, there were two doors. One was a dark screen door, and the other was a gray hard wood door. Buckley unlocked the hard wood door and was faced with a row of stairs. He climbed them, locking the door as he went up.
About twenty stairs up, Buckley entered a small and messy apartment. The walls were painted white and bare. Across the room under two twin windows was a king bed, unmade and covered in clothes. Against the left wall were a television set and a beat up lemon yellow couch. The kitchen was in wreck, pots and pans left on the stove and the sink filled with cups and bowls.
Buckley made a beeline for his bed, and threw some of the clothes at the dresser next to his bed. He sat down, ripping off his shoes and letting his head hit the pillow. He really didn't want to since he was so tired, but he reached over to his night stand and picked up the telephone.
He dialed Nate's number. Nate had been his friend since he was a toddler. They had grown apart for a short while when he was a pre-teen, but they reconnected their sophomore year in high school and still remained friends.
"Hello?" Nate's voice rang into Buckley's ears. "Nate, its Buckley."
"Hey Buck! What's up?" Nate said happily. Buckley sighed, "Just tired. I was calling to see if there was any chance of us getting together with a group or something and hanging out?" he asked. Nate laughed at the other end, "You mean a party? Yeah! I'm going to one tomorrow night. It's at this one guy's house. I met him last weekend. He said his parents were leaving town for the weekend to be with family and he was gonna have a house party. I can come get you at seven tomorrow, if that's good?" he asked.
Buckley nodded, "Yeah sure. I'll just call the boss in the morning and tell him I'm gonna close the shop early. What's the name of this guy?" he asked. "Jason Burley. It's gonna be tight, Buckley! Booze, chicks, great music! You'll have a blast, man."
"Burley? Does he have sisters?" Buckley asked. Nate laughed, "Dang Buck! I never thought you'd cut to the chase so quickly."
"No, no! Not like that. I mean-"
"I never asked if he did. But don't worry dude. If he doesn't have sisters there'll be plenty of chicks at the party." Nate said reassuringly. Buckley sighed, "Alright, thanks dude. See you tomorrow."
"Alright! Catch ya on the flip side!" he said happily, and then hung up the phone. Buckley held the phone to his ear for a few more seconds, listening to the dial tone. 'It couldn't be the same person. That Alison girl said her brother couldn't take death seriously, but to throw a party after his sister's death? No way. It can't be the same person. Not at all. I'll just forget this thought ever crossed my mind.'
And with that Buckley hung up the phone and buried his head in his cold pillow.
I'm a sucker for love stories and tragic stuff and digging into people's minds and Buckley has always been curious to me since I read The Lovely Bones. Wish they had dug a bit more into his character in the movie.
I did re writing a bit, and changed a few things (like the main girl's name) and the story is basically gonna be a bit different than I orginally thought.
well tell me what you think! thanks.