Alright so here it is, the untitled short story I'd like to publish one day. I wrote it about two years ago, in about three hours. It's based on my real family (except for the brother) so I had plenty of material, hope you enjoy it.
The sun was pouring out its last rays of light behind the snow-covered hills. The engine of the worn out car hummed with a miserable tune. It was old, and badly needing the repairs that its owner ignored. Like my uncle, who constantly put off the reoccurring pain in his chest, its demise wouldn’t be long. The classic Christmas songs coming from the radio echoed through the car with nostalgia, jingles from a golden era long gone.
Nevertheless, they had begun to annoy me. My cousin Gary had picked me up just four hours ago from the airport and all ready I wanted to leave. I did not wish to see my family, to see their blank faces or feel their empty touch. I wasn’t coming for sympathy, just closure. I tried hard to dismiss those thoughts, the music, our destination and the pounding in my head, so I gazed out the window once more.
The fields of snow looked so perfect and immaculate, as though an enormous white sheet had been cast across the land. As usual, it was the simpler things in life that amazed me, beauty that normally goes unnoticed. I found a pleasant comfort in the scenery, so I shut my eyes and thought no more. Around thirty minutes later I woke up with an even worse headache then before and as I looked around, I could tell by the dim street lights and a crooked stop sign that we were getting close to home. Judging from the familiar gas stations and super markets we passed I estimated that we would get there in ten minutes or so, ten last minutes of peace.
We finally arrived at my old house, my family’s house. Gary dropped me off and told me he was going to head over to my Grandma’s where everyone else was staying, much to my delight. The house was easy enough to spot; it was the only one without its Christmas lights on. As I stepped out of the car, the wind greeted me like a slap to the face as the cold air sucked all the moisture from my eyes. I started to walk quickly towards the house, swinging the bag around my shoulder. However, I forgot exactly how much crap I had stuffed inside it, so it almost knocked me off balance when it hit me square in the back.
I heard Gary honk but it was so cold I didn’t bother to turn around; instead I just threw up a hand as I hurried along. As I came to the walkway in front of the porch, I saw that there were several drawings of what appeared to be a monkey/cat creature all over the ground in colored chalk. My younger nephews were the culprits no doubt, little monsters. I sat my bag down and pulled the keys from my coat pocket, the jingling sound reminded me of the car ride and how much I hated it.
The key ring was almost completely hidden by the cluttered mess of keys I no longer needed, like my house key for instance. For some reason or another I had hung on to the key even though I’d moved out 4 years ago with no attention of coming back, but I’m not sure why. After finally finding the key I walked into the house and was immediately disappointed. The temperature of the house was only a few degrees warmer than the freezing weather outside. The Family had been out of the house for awhile now so I supposed they turned the heat off, never hurts to save money I guess. It was Christmas Day, yet there was no laughter, presents or Christmas cheer, just an empty house filled with silence. As I made my way up the stairs, the sound of my footsteps sounded like thunderous stomps compared to the quiet atmosphere.
I reached the door at the top of the steps, and stared at a sign that read “Jon’s room, keep out.” I defied the sign and opened the door. Shutting the door behind me, I saw a large opening that had been partially covered up by duct tape. I had punched a hole through the back of the door over a disagreement with my brother when I was sixteen or so, boys will be boys. The smell of his cologne was still strong in the air. He always doused himself with the stuff before he went out, and as overwhelming as it was, I thought it still smelled better than the crap I was wearing.
I walked into the bathroom to comb my hair; it had become pretty hideous during the long trip. My family had always given me crap about my long hair; I’ve since grown accustomed to the numerous “hippie” and “homeless” remarks. I slicked my hair back and cleaned my brush out in the sink, observing the tooth paste smudged all over the inside. I walked back to Jon’s room and put my bag in a recliner. I sat down on the bed and gave my feet a rest from being cramped in these uncomfortable boots for the past twelve hours. My feet showed their gratitude by temporarily relieving the pain that had begun to grow intensely. I had borrowed the boots from Gary since most of my shoes consisted of chucks and slippers; it was usually pretty sunny where I lived.
As I lied down on the mattress I felt a spring jam into my back. Jon always blew all his money on video games and his car, hence the crappy furniture. I ignored it and glanced around the room at the walls covered with stickers, posters and phone numbers. Apparently his taste in music had changed quite a bit since I lived here. I laid there on his bed for awhile, just thinking. I tried my best to clear my mind while I still had the chance, for I knew that it would only be a matter of time before the whole house was flooded with family members.
Before I go any further, I have to clarify something. I don’t hate my family per-say, I just feel as though we’ve grown so far apart that by now we’re practically strangers. However, unlike an ordinary stranger who reserves the right to feel awkward and annoyed by the presence of others, I feel as though we’re constantly forced to put on a smile and pretend that we actually want to see each other. It’s a silly game in my opinion, but it’s become a ritual in the homes of many families. It was in this thought that I heard a knock at the door. Damn, they arrived sooner than I thought. I hurried down stairs and opened the door; it was Uncle Fred and Aunt Kathy.
They both had this generic display of pity on their face, but I could tell that deep down there was some genuine sadness. I knew as soon as they looked at each other and then back at me, I was in for a treat. Fred spoke first, saying “we’re so sorry about your brother, we know how much he meant to you”, or something along those lines. Aunt Kathy started to speak but I pretty much just tuned her out while she talked for the next 10 minutes. It’s very interesting to see people’s patterns when you’re not listening to what they’re saying.
Kathy kept going on and on while Fred would give just her a nod every once in awhile and then go back to staring at the floor. I’m pretty certain he was also tuning her out; I liked Fred more than most of the others, I guess because he wasn’t as fake. Right when I was getting ready to end the conversation and shut the door, Aunt Kathy asked me if I wanted to head on over to Grandma’s for a family dinner. I guess I forgot to hide my expression of disgust because Kathy immediately started telling me reasons why I should go. I just agreed to save myself some grief and went back upstairs to change.