The sun rose from the cloud-filled horizon, its rays slowly trickling over the immense blue sky above, painting the hours of the day ahead of us with the cool colors of the morning. The buildings slowly disappeared behind us and were now a thin line of gray in the horizon. The view changed radically during the last ten minutes of this two-hour trip in car, from a progression of modern looking buildings winding farther into shabbier, smaller, and more rustic looking ones, to the monotonous, fresh, and green foliage of trees and their brown barks that flanked both sides of the lonely, less-traveled road. The sky had changed color as well, since we set out early in the morning when it was still gray; it had gradually changed colors ever since, shimmering and glowing with golden splendor as the sun gave rise in the East followed by chilly winds from the North. From afar, a quick glimpse of the snow-covered mountains could be enjoyed.
“Are we there yet?” Cindy asked impatiently, gazing out of the window at the slow procession of unchanging pine trees we were passing every second.
“Not if mom keeps driving the way she does,” I muttered my thoughts for the first time since this morning. I caught sight of my mom glaring daggers at me through the rearview mirror. I shrugged and closed my eyes, burying my head deep in the hood of my jacket. The constant drone of the car’s engine had nestled me in deep slumber and I had just recently awoken because of Cindy’s question.
“Driving fast will not get us there in one piece,” she explained patiently, “the road is worn down, curves and bends quite a bit, and is frost-covered, and therefore I drive as carefully as I can. Besides, any brusque movement might severe your father’s pain due to his broken leg. He has been getting aches ever since winter ventured upon us.” The last she added with a quick, sympathetic glance at my father, who was slumped against the seat, snoring time away.
“He really appreciates it,” I scoffed as I heard him stir in his seat.
“You’re so mean,” Cindy retorted, rolling her eyes on me. “Somebody is still moody because his girlfriend left him.”
“Shut up,” I snarled, watching her jesting expression with scorn.
“Elliot, don’t talk to your sister like that,” my mother snapped. “You’re introducing her into that recent bad habit of yours, sneering at people. Cindy, your brother has gone through a lot, just let him be.”
I snorted and shifted on my seat, orienting my full body toward the window, my back facing my sister. Sometimes withdrawal from battles in which a maternal figure was involved was the best and wisest option. My sister frowned and went back to stroking the soft fur of her bear stuff animal. She was growing so big and with an intelligence and sassiness of her own. Perhaps if I guided her to the right path and mindset she could turn out to be a real lady whom the boys will fall heads over heels again and again. I smiled at my own silly thoughts; pity to those who fall in love over and over again with the same girl. I opened my eyes and saw own reflection against the window pane staring back at me. Yeah, I don’t need your pity, I said to myself.
I stretched out the laziness contained in my legs for the long drive after we parked, taking in the cool, fresh air that the mountains had to offer. The smell of pine was strong and natural, unlike the synthetic ones we use as a poor excuse for a Christmas tree. The ground beneath my feet was strewn with dirt and dried leafs, well, pretty much everything was frozen dead. I didn’t even bother in helping my father into his crutches as I made my way to the wide, two-story wooden lodge before us. We were to spend the weekend here with some friends of my mother in their time-shared room. Economics class taught me that time-shared was an economical rip-off any poor bastards could submit themselves into; time-share, in other words, was forced vacations. And here we were, we drove almost 140 miles to end up in a forsaken mountain, pretending to enjoy a weekend in a lodge forced upon us. I did, however, opened the door for them to walk in.
The lounge was cozy and dim; the only light came from two floor lamps on each side of the room. There were many family photos hung on the walls with the smiling and grinning faces of the owners and their children.
“Hey Martha.” The elderly woman behind the counter waved at my mother, she had plastered in her face a wide, toothless grin. “Good to see you, Thomas, and the kids here!”
“Joyce, my dear, how have you been?” my mother left our side and leaned over the counter to embrace the old lady. “You look better than ever.” After their friendly hug, my mother beckoned at us. We walked, grudgingly, to the counter, forcing pleasant smiles on our tired faces.
“Thomas, how have you been, everything fine with the leg? Cindy, you’ve grown so tall, almost like a lady and every passing day looking more like your fine mother. This handsome gentleman is Elliot? How have you been young man, bet you have a throng of ladies waiting for you back home,” Joyce laughed.
“As if,” Cindy mumbled, smirking at me. I shot her a fiery glance and lightly smacked the back of her head. “Hey!” she protested, shoving my hand away.
“Kids, don’t play like that,” my mother said, she handed me the keys of our room, “the Parkers should be here soon, go to our room to rest for a while, we’ll unpack later.” She then turned and was chat with Joyce longer.
We walked silently toward the stairs (there was no elevator to my father’s dismay) and we helped him walked each step.
“I will not leave that room until the weekend is over,” he grumbled softly, “what kind of lodge doesn’t have lift?” Finally we reached our room; it was comfortable and spacious, enough for two totally unrelated families to live in. There were four bedrooms, two with king size beds and the other two with bunk beds, there was a common living room, kitchen, and dining room. My father went directly to the couch and plopped himself down, reaching for the TV control and switching through the sport’s channels.
“Ew, I have to share the room with Elliot,” Cindy complained.
“Don’t think I enjoy your company either,” I called from the hallway on my way out. “I’ll be back.” I closed the door behind me and walked down the wooden, creaky stairs. Once in the lounge, I silently crept my way out, desperately trying to attract the less attention possible to me. I succeeded, once outside a gust of chilly wind hit me in the face. Icy daggers seem to penetrate my skin and the sweet scent of jasmine penetrated my nostrils and evoked familiar feelings in my chest. I realized too late that someone had slammed into me in my way out; I looked down and saw a pair of the most beautiful, ocean deep blue eyes I’ve ever lived to see staring right up at me.
My heart skipped several beats as I lost myself in her eyes.