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In the Eleventh Year
By Jesse N. Willey

My name is Iris Allen, and people say I’m the loneliest person alive. Not today. Never today. After all these years, they still haven’t let me forget the pain of losing him. Oh Barry, most of these people were your friends. Can’t you make them go away?

“Grandma, do we have to have the picnic this year?” came a sad voice.

“Bart, I thought you loved the picnic.” I replied.

“I do. It’s just not the same this year. I mean with Max and everything... Jay and Joan have been great and everything... it’s just Max has been there as far back as I can remember.” Bart replied.

“And this brings up just another loss. I understand entirely.” I said.

When this tradition first started thirteen years ago, it was a small event. Just me, Wally, Jay and Joan Garrick along with Ralph and Sue Dibny, and of course, Superman. The next year Hal and Ollie showed up, along with Arthur and J’onn. Over the years the event has sort of snowballed. It seems like anyone who had any peripheral contact with Barry thinks they have a free meal ticket. They aren’t even trying to remember Barry any more. They just use it as an excuse to relax.

“Yo, Mrs. Allen... Beetle needs to know where he can park the bug!” Booster Gold shouted.

“Next to the Supercycle!” Bart yelled.

Not that I can blame them. I know what their life is like. Any moment could be their last, so why not enjoy it while they can.

“Etalfni ebutretni!” Zatanna yelled as she grabbed a purple intertube.

“Ummph,” Ralph said as he did a spit take. “I AM NOT equipped as a floatation device.”

“Ralph!” she yelled.

It’s turned into the super heroes version of Christmas. Sure, they need a day like today, but why today? How can they act like all is right in the world, on the anniversary of the death of one of their own?

“Hey Ollie,” Dinah shouted. “Remember this spot.”

“Oh yeah. Great for skinny dipping. Couldn’t forget that.” he gruffed.

“Come on then, for old times sake.” she said.

“Dinah... please... not now,” he replied.

“What’s the matter?”

“This ‘picnic’... don’t you remember what this is? We’re here to remember Barry.” he yelled.

“That’s not what you said LAST time we were here.”

“I hadn’t died before last time we were here either.” Ollie said.

It would help if I felt even one of them who’s outside the family were here for the right reasons. Just one of them.

“Come on, where is he? He said he was gonna come and tell me a real good story about Grandpa. He promised.” Bart said.

“Bart, I’ve told you all the ones I know. After I found out Barry was The Flash, I had him tell me everything. Wait a minute... you didn’t invite another guest, did you? I thought you didn’t want to do the picnic this year.” Iris replied.

“No... he said this one was a secret.” Bart said.

“Oh god, did you invite ANOTHER guest?” I asked.

“Um... not exactly...” Bart replied.

“Arghhhh!” I yelled.

That’s when I found myself walking toward the far end of the park. I’ve always hated coming here. It’s where the put a statue of The Flash. Not of Barry Allen; police officer, husband, and bad card player. The Flash.

That’s when I saw him sitting there on a bench. A man in his early twenties whose face was half covered with tears. Oh my god... it looks like... little Snapper Carr? But he’s grown up quite a bit since I last saw him. Of course that was about eleven years ago.

“I’m sorry Barry... I should have come here years ago. I should have gone to your funeral. Hell, I went to all the ones after that, though I tried not to get noticed. Granted, everyone and their uncle went to Superman’s funeral. The reason I didn’t go to your funeral... damn... how to explain... after that mess with Joker, I just didn’t feel worthy. I know, you and J’onn--hell even Ollie kept telling me it wasn’t my fault. I realize now that I was a stupid kid who wanted to play with the adult’s game. I kept thinking of that glare in Batman’s eye... and well... it’s not that I didn’t want to come. I was afraid of seeing any of the old Leaguers. Christ. That betrayal stuff happened a long time ago. I was real mess for a long time. Practically an empty shell of guilt, shame, and remorse. I got married right out of college... and was quickly divorced. I had a friend who helped me work things out. He claims I taught him about second chances. He taught me a bit more, if you catch my drift. He went back where he came from. Then Red Tornado stepped down as the JLA’s consultant to Young Justice... and tapped me for the job. Rumor has it he went to Firestorm and Ralph first. Neither of them wanted the assignment. Of course, that grandson of yours is a handful,” he said.

He turned his head. I remained silent.

“I-I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were here.” Lucas said. He turned back to the statue. “I gotta go Barry. I’m gonna patch things up with some old friends. Maybe make some new ones too.”

“It’s alright. He’d be proud of you. He always was.” I said.

“Thank you. You have no idea what that means to me.” Snapper replied.

There was there was a soft burst of lighting the follows the arrival of a speedster.

“There you are. Can you tell me that story now?” Bart said.

“It was right after the Starro thing. We had to write an essay about the coolest person we ever met. I choose to do mine on the Flash. My teacher didn’t read the newspaper, so she didn’t believe a word of it. Now, back then I had grades about as good as yours. If I got and A on the paper, I could get a C-, and pass the course. Otherwise... I was in deep dog doo. The teacher invented a new grade for me. An F minus. So I was in deep trouble. I went to argue with the teacher about it in detention... and well... It wasn’t going so well. Then out of nowhere, a red blur entered the room,” Snapper said.

“And, and?” Bart yelled.

“The teacher changed the grade,” Snapper said.

“What? That’s not a cool story!” Bart yelled.

I guess I was wrong. Barry hadn’t been forgotten outside of the family. They weren’t destroying Barry’s memory by living in the moment. In their own way they’re honoring it.

“Hey Snapper! JSA Vs. JLA Volleyball tournament!” yelled Wildcat.

“I still don’t know which team I’m supposed to be on,” Hawkman replied.

“Just shut your seed hole and have fun,” yelled Star Spangled Kid.

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