hometown horror: reimagined.
At first, the drive through the California desert is almost a lighthearted adventure. They pass the time by blasting music through the car speakers, and singing at the top of their lungs. Unconsciously, Jacob, Casey and Isaiah usually fall into a natural harmony whenever all three of them got in on a song together. In between songs they love, they try and solve all the world’s problems, as only the four of them can. It’s all welcomed, because the four of them are heading straight for a lion’s den. As the road signs transition from California signs to Nevada signs, things become quieter and quieter – more tense. Jacob’s had the wheel for most of the drive, but on their final stop for gas, he admits he needs Isaiah to take the wheel.
Casey and Isaiah move to the front so Jacob and Cecilia can sit in the back. They hold hands, but Jacob’s eyes stay focused out the window as things become more and more familiar. Last time he saw this exact route, he was watching it through the window of a crowded bus going from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. The car ride remains quiet. When it comes to the four of them – Jacob, Cecilia, Casey and Isaiah – they’re usually able to lift each other’s spirits but the spirits in that car are too heavy this time. Jacob finds himself wondering why he ever even agreed to coming down to this sh*thole town to have a terribly cooked dinner with people he doesn’t even like.
Jacob’s parents, and his two younger sisters still live in the same house Jacob grew up in. Every screaming match – every beating, every broken object – it’s all coming back to him and he finds himself shuddering just a bit. The outside hasn’t changed, except for the cars out front. Jacob glances out the window beside him, rather than looking forward, tuning in as Isaiah asks Casey how come Christian didn’t want to come. How Isaiah can think about Christian right now is beyond Jacob, but maybe it’s because Isaiah’s hardly spent any time with Eric over the years. The car comes to a stop at the end of the driveway and Isaiah says, “I guess we’re here.”
“I guess so,” flies out of Jacob’s mouth and he’s not even sure why.
They all get out of the car and they make their way to the front door. It’s nearing 4:30pm, and last he remembers, his mom usually likes to start dinner that early. It takes her forever to open the door, but she finally does and Jacob nearly doesn’t recognize her. She’s cut off most of her hair into a short bob, and she’s got bangs now. She doesn’t have any makeup on, which she used to wear almost daily even if she wasn’t going anywhere. “Hi,” she says with a crooked smile. She goes in for a hug that causes Jacob to tense up, but in an attempt not to make things any MORE awkward, he accepts and he wraps one arm around her.
“Wow, you got tall,” she jokes before standing back. “Come on in, dinner’s almost ready and your dad will be here soon.” She then steps aside.
All four oblige and she leads them all to the kitchen while attempting to make small talk aimed at the two she’s most familiar with – Isaiah and Jacob. “And so, you’re Jacob’s wife, and….I’m sorry…what’s your name again?” She then asks, pointing at Casey.
“Casey, mom.” Jacob says.
“Right, right! Sorry, I’m so bad with names…” She says, leaving Jacob stunned that excuse is still a her go to.
The kitchen table is new – it’s bigger and a deep brown. The chairs have cushions. He wonders where they got the money for it, while he sits down and waits for the others to sit down with him. He’s not sure what to expect from that evening, but whatever it is must be extremely important for Eric to tolerate having all of them around.