Yay for school assignments! Yay for posting story at school! Yay for probably going to get banned from school internet~

One and a Half Years Later: OMaM Lost Chapter

The leaves of a large oak cast shadows over the picnic table where George sat. He stared at his solitaire hand, but his mind was not on his game; it was back in Salinas where Lennie had asked why both ends of the cards were the same. His thought shifted to the nine different ranches he had worked at over the past year and a half. He had lost track of where he was, but all that mattered was he was far enough away from Weed and Salinas that no one knew of him and Lennie or their stories.

It was a few minutes later when a young boy, about the age of twelve, wandered over to his table and sat down. George automatically shuffled the cards and started a new game. Keeping his head down, he glanced at the boy. He was studying the cards closely, but looked up in time to see George staring at him. He gave the brunette a smile; one of his front teeth was missing.

"You got an ace in your hand." the boy pointed out.

George scowled slightly and laid the ace of hearts down. "I coulda told you that." he said. The boy only laughed.

"I seen you workin'," he said after a few minute of silence. "You's a hard worker, but you don't talk much. How come I didn' see you at dinner?"

"I like eatin' alone." George said.

The boy looked over at George's half-empty plate. His nose scrunched up in distaste. "I like syrup on my beans. Ketchup ain't no good, 'specially the cheap stuff they have here."

George made no sign of acknowledgement as he listened to the boy ramble on. He did not particularly enjoy his company, but he did not like being alone either. He had gotten used to travelling without Lennie by his side; stopping when and where he wanted, not having to keep track of someone else, but he found he got lonely more often than not.

"-and someday I is goin' t'live off the fatta the lan' with my own family an' everything!" the boy said enthusiastically.

George laughed bitterly. "Oh, yeah? What makes you think that a scrawny thing like you will make a stake big enough for that?"

"I'll work for as long as it takes," said the boy, frowning. "Besides, if it don't work out then at least I can say I tried."

"Nobody gives a damn if you tried. Everyone's after the same dream. They're too stupid t' realize that they'll never reach it 'cause it's a load of bull!" George growled angrily.

The boy shrunk a bit in fright, but stayed seated at the table; much to George's chagrin.

"The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray, and leave us only grief and pain for promised joy," whispered the boy. "I heard that somewhere."

"Yeah," asked George. "And what's that gotta do with anythin'?"

"It doesn't matter what other people think. It's our dream and our beliefs. No one can take those away from us. Not anyone." he answered.

Something inside of George's mind finally snapped. The mental wall he spent the last year and a half building broke and his and Lennie's dream came flooding out, along with everything else he tried to block out. He let out a shaky breath and slowly put his cards down. The boy was staring past him, his chin resting on his palm and a dreamy look on his face.

"Hey, kid," The boy looked back at George. "What's your name?"

The boy sat up. "Me? I'm Lenny! What's yours?"

George paused for a long moment before finally smiling his first genuine smile in a long time. "George. George Milton."