Paper Town
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I think I was born for the city. Something about it… the lights, the noise, the people… it's exhilarating. It's exciting to be able to walk outside and have a different experience every day. There's always something new to see. I guess that's why I left my hometown.

Stoneport was tiny. You couldn't even call it a town— it was more of just a tiny little tribe, with 20 people at most. My mom was the 'mayor,' as well as the schoolteacher, and the seamstress, and tons of other little roles. Always busy with something.

Too busy, in fact, to even take care of me. So when I left, I didn't look back. I moved to the city, got a job, and life was good.

Years later, her will arrived in the mail. She'd left what little she owned to me. A few dollars… and a key.

I contemplated not going back. I didn't even remember how to get there, and when you looked up Stoneport, nothing showed up. It was like it was completely gone. Forgotten. And maybe I should have forgotten about it too.

But I didn't. I found a map— the one I used when I left. I laughed a bit at the irony. The same thing that helped me escape would lead me back there.

Then, I got into my car, drove, and in a few hours, I was there.

The town was smaller than I remembered. Just four small buildings. The butcher's shop, the barn, a little bungalow, and… the school. Home. As I approached, I noticed a single streetlight flicker, then go out. Vines crept up the side of the barn, moss threatening to eat away at the wood. The window of the butcher's shop was broken, and inside was empty. There wasn't a soul in sight, though the footsteps going up to the bungalow told me that someone had been here recently.

Soon enough, I was at the doors of the school. It'd been haphazardly locked up with a chain and a padlock, both so rusty that when I inserted the key, it felt like it was going to fall apart. After opening the door, I noticed a layer of yellow dust on my hand, which I brushed off on my pants.

I entered to see the main teaching room. The blackboard had been completely covered in chalk, with not a speck of darkness remaining. There were three upright desks, each caked in same yellow dust. Mine had been knocked over on its side, but looked completely clean.

I progressed into the back room, what had once been my mom and I's bedroom. She'd replaced my bed with a sewing table, but all the needles were broken in half, resting on the table's edges. Except for her bed, the rest of the furniture was gone. I ripped the comforter off the bed and shook all of the dirt off, then reached for the pillow to do the same. There was a short yellowed note underneath it. Barely legible.

"I am going to die soon. My body will not be found. I will decay here, and remain only as dust."

As I gripped the note in my hands, I barely noticed that I was walking towards the exit. I pushed the door open, tucking it into my pocket as I took a deep breath.

I got in my car, and I drove away.

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