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Making my way downtown Walking fast Faces pass And I'm home bound…


Thirty four year old Troy Bolton walked aimlessly down the frozen stretch of sidewalk that led to the memorial, a large bouquet of red roses in his arms; he had been here so many times, his legs could automatically just take him to the place.


The place Troy was going to was a memorial at the site of a devastating plane crash. The crash had taken place years and years ago- today was the fifteenth anniversary of it in fact.


Troy had lost someone very dear in this accident- the only woman he ever truly loved, Gabriella Montez. They were both nineteen when she died, and some might say that was a little too young to fall in love, but Troy and Gabriella were exceptions.


She had been flying from New York City, where she was attending NYU, to Albuquerque for Christmas. Just over Albuquerque, her airplane had had a mechanical failure; it had missed the airport and nose-dived into a plot of cleared land for a housing development, killing all two hundred and forty passengers and crew on impact.


She died two weeks before her twentieth birthday.


Troy was fifteen years older now, with a wife, Melissa, and a five year old daughter, Susie, but every year, he made this trip by himself, in honor of her memory.


His eyes were carefully wiped clean of all emotion; he had not allowed himself to cry for Gabriella since that fateful day a decade and a half ago. In fact, he had barely allowed himself to think about her, knowing that if he did, he would do something drastic. Instead, he had chosen to try to forget about it, move on, make this pilgrimage once a year, bringing the same thing every time, a bouquet of roses.


Staring blankly ahead Just making my way


It was a sunny day despite the cold, and many people were out, catching up on last minute holiday shopping, chattering and sipping coffee in cups from Starbucks.


Making a way Through the crowd


Troy maneuvered himself through the heavy crowd, being careful not to rumple the flowers, slowing his pace, knowing that the place where Gabriella died was less than a block away now.


Automatically stepping out of the paths of others, he breathed in and out slowly, calming, preparing himself for the moment where he would be face-to-face with the plane where she had lived the last, terrifying moments of her life, the barren land where she had died a terrible death.


And I need you And I miss you And now I wonder...


The plane hadn't been removed, the government of New Mexico had chosen to leave it there as a mark of respect to the dead. Nothing had been removed, but a marble memorial had been erected by the airline in honor of the victims, engraved with the names of the deceased.


With each step he took, a memory of Gabriella came into his head, and he didn't even try to push them away, knowing it would be of no use to try.


He could see Gabriella so clearly- Gabriella laughing, singing, dancing, doing experiments in the chemistry lab, walking in the halls of East High with Taylor or Sharpay by her side, books pressed up against her chest. Gabriella nervous, happy, sick, pouting, smiling. He closed his eyes and pictured her standing there, next to him.


If I could fall Into the sky Do you think time Would pass me by 'Cause you know I'd walk A thousand miles If I could Just see you Tonight


Up until then, Troy hadn't come to terms with quite how much he missed her, how much he needed and depended on her. Gabriella, shy, quiet Gabriella, but also one of the strongest people he had ever known. She was insightful and wise beyond her years. Troy realized at that moment that he would have traded everything he had just to see her, talk to her, tell her he loved her, hold her close, just one last time.


It's always times like these When I think of you And I wonder If you ever  Think of me


Now Troy was about ten steps from the turning where the memorial was located, still lost in his own thoughts. He walked faster, pausing for a long moment at the gate. The lonely lot was deserted, tourists and crowds had been there earlier in the day, but it was growing dusky now, so they were long gone.


He tried to shake away his memories and slip on the mask of indifference he'd worn for so many years, but it was harder than it seemed. He knew he didn't belong in the past, that nothing he did could bring her back, but it didn't matter. His brain was filled with images of Gabriella, so many precious, invaluable memories. He looked straight ahead and continued his weary march, resignedly continuing until he reached the wall.


'Cause everything's so wrong And I don't belong Living in your Precious memories


The Wall was made of marble, and had two hundred and forty engraved brass plates stating the name and age of each victim of the crash stuck onto it. There were two gray stone benches facing it, embedded in the ground. The charred, rusted remnants of the destroyed plane were off to the side, cordoned off by thin wire fences.


'Cause I need you And I miss you And now I wonder...


Troy's blue eyes scanned over the wall, looking for Gabriella's name. Fred Martinson, Lauren Smith, Kara Reynolds, Michael Zuckerman, finally there it was, Gabriella Montez, age nineteen.


Her plate was at the very bottom, in the extreme right hand corner. The grooves in the engraving were slightly tarnished and weather beaten, since her plate was at the bottom, it had been neglected by the hasty, flustered volunteer high school students who came here once a year, to wipe down the plagues and plant flowers that always died in the winter in exchange for community service hours.


If I could fall Into the sky Do you think time Would pass me by 'Cause you know I'd walk A thousand miles If I could Just see you Tonight


Troy bent down to touch the plague, running his hands over the letters, almost as if there was a piece of Gabriella embedded in the cold, flimsy metal nailed to the wall.


Later, reflecting back upon this day, Troy wasn't sure quite how long he ran his hands over the plague, but it was a long time. Somehow, this visit was different. This time, he actually felt like he was touching Gabriella, reconnecting with her. 


And I, I Don't want to let you know I, I Drown in your memory I, I Don't want to let this go I, I Don't...


Troy reluctantly pulled his hand from the plaque a long moment later, sighing quietly to himself. He had so little of Gabriella left, he didn't want to leave this little piece of her, stop touching, feeling it.


Making my way downtown Walking fast Faces pass And I'm home bound


Staring blankly ahead Just making my way Making a way Through the crowd


He walked over to the bench facing the wall and sat on it, succumbing himself to his memories. How could someone so alive be so… dead, and in such a short time? 


And I still need you And I still miss you And now I wonder...


Troy remembered so many things about Gabriella, she was so full of life, had a passion for living. She did everything to the fullest, and perhaps that's why she excelled at everything she tried.


Gabriella wouldn't want him to do this, to be cold and dull for the rest of his life, just because she was gone. He dimly realized that that was what he had been doing for the past fifteen years. Even though there were no outward signs of his grief, there were inward repercussions to make up for them. He had fooled everyone, including himself, but just visiting Gabriella today helped him figure out that he had seen everything in gray for the past fifteen years. Maybe he couldn't love Melissa as strongly as he had once loved Gabriella, but he could try, like he knew Gabriella would have wanted him to. He silently promised Gabriella that he would keep living, live a full enough life for both of them.


He reached inside his coat pocket and pulled out the other thing he had brought. Every year, for the past fifteen years, he had brought this item, meaning to leave it at the memorial, but he was never able to bring himself to.


The item was a picture of the two of them in high school, smiling. It wasn't a posed photo, they had just happened to have been smiling at the time it had been taken. Gabriella was always beautiful, but she had been especially so in this picture.


Troy took solace in the fact that, at least in the photograph, she would be forever immortal.


If I could fall Into the sky Do you think time Would pass us by 'Cause you know I'd walk A thousand miles If I could Just see you...


Troy stood there for a moment, head bent, a lone figure in the distance paying his last respects to the woman he loved, knowing that he wouldn't return to The Wall again.


Then he knelt on the hard, icy ground and slowly placed the picture on the ground, laying it under the brass plaque engraved with her name on the cold marble wall, and weighting it down with the roses.


And for the first time in years, a tear ran down his cheek before he turned around, going home and not looking back.


If I could fall Into the sky Do you think time Would pass me by 'Cause you know I'd walk A thousand miles If I could Just see you If I could Just hold you Tonight

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