He'd never forgotten those teenage years.
He used to spend the summer holidays at Aunt Ann's summer house near the beach, searching for oysters with her daughter, Karen. They never found any pearls inside the oysters, but they never stopped searching. Aunt Ann had a beautiful pearl necklace which she claimed she made herself from the pearls found inside clams she obtained.
That was the story she told them every time they wanted to give up, and it never failed to astound and motivate them. She was so gifted in telling heart-lifting stories, it was a surprise she never wrote any children's books.
Now she was dead.
He looked around the dusty summer house sitting room which seemed like a stash of sweet memories, of happier times and youth that held a lot of promise. This place used to be the 'Bridge to Terabithia" for him and Karen.
"Brings back memories, doesn't it?" Karen said, stepping into the house.
They were both 16 when he last saw her. Thirty years hadn't wiped off her beautiful smile which was much like Aunt Ann's. Seems like it was in their genes.
"It sure does. Hi Karen." he laughed a little, hugging her.
"Hi. Where's your family?"
"Back at home. Yours?"
"Same. I needed to take some time off on this one. This place was the only place I could think off. And I knew you were going to be here, 'cause I knew she'd leave you this place in her will. You always loved this lace, even more than her and I did."
"It was a big release from life in the city with my parents, the bullies and my fake friends. I couldn't trade it for the world."
"Remember your last birthday here, and that crazy..."
"The clown!" he remembered with a laugh "I hated that guy."
"That was the last time, huh?' he said again, tears coming to his eyes. He really didn't check up on Aunt Ann as he should have, and only found out about her sickness a week to her death. She never got out of her coma until she died.
"Are you crying? I know you feel guilty, but wipe your tears. It'd be a disgrace if she saw you like this, she always thought you were a great man." Karen said with a tearful smile.
"Even 'great' men cry, Karen."