I grow tired of hearing the slicking noise of the windshield wipers as they move across my front window. That of course makes me aware that the rain has cleared up a little, and my wipers are just swiping at dry glass.
Reaching my fingers under the controls for them, I turn it off.
It’s dark out. Only the tapping sound of light rain hits my car now, as it drives down the freeway. I take a turn at the next exit and slow up a little as my car rolls down the ramp. The roads are still wet.
I take a few more turns, following the directions on my paper printed with information from Map Quest. The next left brings me into the neighborhood. I exhale deeply, trying to calm myself. My stomach won’t stop churning. I curse lightly under my breath as I move past street signs, but then I have to force myself to not even think that. Not the best way to make an impression.
A stop sign approaches as I hit a four-way street and do as ordered. I’m the only car on the road. I take a moment to glance around out my side windows. It’s a very good neighborhood. Each one has a porch with individually placed trees and bushes and flowers. To my right, a gentleman sits in his rocking chair on his own porch. He stares at my car, knowing that I don’t live in this area. Either that or one of his neighbors got a new automobile. It’s a small neighborhood.
It’s cold and rainy outside. Not the type of view someone would just want to stare at or go out in. The type of rainy day that, no matter how quickly you walk outside and run back inside, leaves end up sticking to the bottom of your shoes. The man though, quietly relaxing in his chair, in the cold, is enjoying himself.
I drive on.
Finally, after a few more turns and one missed street sign that took a little time to locate, I arrive at my destination. I’m late.
Not entirely my fault. This neighborhood has changed a lot since the last time I saw it.
It’s stopped raining now, and I slowly move across the street before the house’s drive-through comes upon me. I hesitate. Should I pull in, or maybe just park on the side of the road? Would they be offended if I didn’t? There are already cars on the street in front of the house and one pulled in the drive way, room for two more.
I get nervous, and decide to pull in. I shake my head. I must be crazy doing this.
Parking, I switch off the headlights and just sit there for a moment in my car, looking through the windows of the house. I can see a few people inside. Sighing, I take the keys out of the ignition, slowly. I open my car door and step out, shut it and tug my brown jacket closer to my body as the cold air enters through and grasps me for the first time since I stopped at the gas station hours back.
Placing my hands up to my mouth, I breathe into them and rub them together. But I know I’m not that cold. I’m nervous and that’s causing me to shiver.
Shaking my head in frustration I take a few steps to the right, along the sidewalk. The porch is beautiful. Made of wood, with a freshly painted door it looks like. The steps are made of brick.
When I take my first one, I stop.
Do I really want to do this? It’s been quite a while and especially now? There are a few people inside already. I can come back tomorrow, when it’s just me alone. No distractions.
People are distractions.
I’m thinking of turning away right then, when the next car I hear drives down the street. I can hardly believe my luck as I watch the four seated Honda pull up right behind my car.
I breathe sharply out as my teeth grit together.
You got to be kidding me.
And now I’m forced into this. To leave, I’d have to go back, and ask the young couple in the car to pull out, not before explaining my story, telling them I’m too chicken to stick around …
Without thinking I press the door bell. The cold sweat that takes me is unlike anything I’ve ever had to feel before. I’ve prepared for sweaty hands. Two dry napkins from Wendy’s have been stuffed in my pockets and I press my damp palms against them.
I know I have to calm down. This isn’t going to be easy.
And when she opens the door, I could kick myself. I’ve forgotten something extremely obvious and that’s going to make this moment very awkward.
She stares for a few minutes with a slight smile, one that is filled with little surprise. I immediately want to leave her, the house, and the entire state of Ohio for that matter because what am I supposed to say? I don’t know her age, though she’s probably in her early twenties. She looks Italian, though that I can’t tell for sure. And even though she gives me a warm smile, I know she must be thinking I’m the pizza man or perhaps a neighbor, asking what the occasion is. But I how can I stand telling her the truth?
The truth is we’re related … in some way.
I don’t know her name.
I cough for a moment, and when she finally realizes I’m not a neighbor and have no food, she questions me.
“Hello, may I help you?” Her voice is sweet.
“How you doin?” Without waiting for an answer I continue by handing her a letter with a signature she should know signed at the bottom. “I was invited. Nice to meet you.”
I reach out my hand and she takes it, though she’s now fully shocked and blinking. She’s wearing a nice dress I notice that’s emerald in color. It suits her fine; she's actually quite beautiful in it. That’s when I turn my head slightly to look over her shoulder, and see everyone else is dressed well. Me? I have a brown coat, black collar shirt, blue jeans.
Not that I look bad or too rugged. But I can’t help but feel slightly embarrassed since these people are wearing dress shirts - some suits - and I can only stand there in my causal brown jacket. The invitation had explained to dress well … my mistake I suppose.
We exchange names and she nods, and stares because now she knows exactly who I am. I just move past her and enter the warm house. I can a feel a few fingertips on my arm as she reaches out, but I really have got to move in there and walk further. Get rid of that awkward feeling. Really, I’m only here for two people.
The fresh aroma of food fills my nose and I can swear I smell chocolate chip cookies. Must be for the little children running around, and there are a bunch of them. One group laughs and plays on the couch, little boys and girls giggling, playing with a ball and the family dog. Another group has two little girls sitting quietly at the table, listening to an old man – their grandfather? Not mine – tell them a story. Their eyes are very large, as most eyes of young children are.
Finally one group of teenagers are sitting slightly away from the adult filled crowd. One girl is sitting comfortably in her chair – dressed well of course – speaking with two boys around her age. They aren’t part of the adults and hesitate when one comes to speak with them. It’s understandable, just not ready yet really, unaccustomed to growing up.
One of the boys is having a good time talking with the girl about something that’s making them laugh aloud.
The other boy is looking right at me. He isn’t frowning, but there isn’t a smile. It’s more of a question, his look, seeing through me, not old enough to determine whether I’m a threat or not.
Hello, are you okay? Are you lost?
Children have a way of asking those questions through a look, and seeing things you don’t want to see, or have forgotten how to. I nonchalantly slide my gaze from the young man’s staring eyes and concentrate on something else, though inside, I’m anything but calm.
A few people also stare, some ignore me – there a lot of people here – and some recognize me. Some frown and some few, smile. I can’t smile back at those, because I can’t remember who they really are. It’s been such a long time since I’ve been in this house. All these people … how am I supposed to talk with them? After six years? Six long years away from home, never turning back to give them a second glance?
Half of these people are related to me. Or friends of the family, which if so, in my family means you are family. If that makes sense.
No, I’m looking for two people. That’s all that matters now.
Should have came by later.
I slowly turn my head and gaze at the crowd. I don’t see them.
Moving slowly, I head into the kitchen, which is just as warm as I remember. For some reason, I stop just before entering the room. My breathing quickens when I hear her voice.
The memories flood in, and I bite my lower lip. I refuse to let this get to me. I’m stronger than this. Leaving home was no easy task, especially at seventeen, moment I got out of high school. Voices being raised, tears having fallen … a kid yelling like a man, at his parents for things that –
Happened. Things that just happened.
I’d gotten calls of course. Sometimes it’d be my mother, other times my father. Sometimes I'd call them, letting them know I was moving again. It could turn into a fight when things were brought up. However, not always were harsh words given, most of the time it was just … talking with them. Six years just continue on. I still have no family and my job is a dead end, but I am somewhat happy. I’ve come a long a way, and no one can say I haven’t.
Then one day I get a call, she asks to be there on this reunion. Just for a couple days, I remember, not even that if I didn’t want to. But my father and mother express their need to see me. Want their son to come home.
I’m stronger than this, but returning is sometimes the hardest thing you have to do. To go back where you once were, and ask yourself if whether or not what you’ve done was the right thing. If it wasn’t, or you fall, then to admit it, and ask for forgiveness to those people, that’s tearing. It tears at you, rips you up, until you get it done. Until you get that stone off your chest.
I stand for that long moment, shake it off. And walk inside.
She’s standing, slowly mixing a pot of some stew on the stove. I can see the steam rise out of it. She’s looking down at it, with a small smile on her face. Her hair is dark brown, and put up nicely in some style which is unique and equally lovely. She is slender and, six years later, still a beautiful mother who makes you feel at home.
My father is beside her, maybe quietly asking how everything is going outside. He has one hand wrapped around her waist. And she laughs lightly. He’s much taller then she is. Lean, with black hair. He’s a guardian to everyone he knows.
I stand there just for a moment longer and hesitate, because I can see their faces. They’re thinking about a person they feel is beyond their reach. It isn’t selfish of me to think like that, because I know they are thinking of me. I’ve been imagining, wanting to see them for so long as well ... no, that’s not selfish. My mother stops stirring the stew for just a moment, and my father’s speaking quietly once more. She nods with sudden sadness.
It’s been such a long time.
I cough lightly, their attention being shifted. She turns sharply toward me, somehow knowing I’d be there before ever seeing me, and her breath catches a little. My father slowly looks up and gives a smile as recognition comes to his face.
I stand awkwardly, looking at them. I can barely move but I smile lightly. It is good to see them.
I’ve come such a long way, and now is when I can’t move. I just stand there, looking at them completely frozen. So many miles travelled, now immobilized with emotion at the last step.
It’s alright though. They rush forward and make the rest of the trip for me.
I decided to repost this story I wrote last year, just so it's easier to get to instead of on the old forums. Hope that's cool. (: R&R appreciated!
From the old forums: ("Thank you for reading this. Again, another non-Bionicle story I thought up and wrote half of a couple months ago, and tonight I was actually able remember to finish the other half of it. (After digging it up) Unlike To Soar, there was no inspiration for this one. It comes from just me. Reviews appreciated.")