Matt leaned against the back seat of the car, adjusting his headphones. He couldn’t believe his parents forced him to come with them to the theatre. David got to stay home, why did Matt and Charlotte have to go? He turned his music up. At least in the car, Matt could listen to music and not their boring conversations! After adjusting the headphones and drowning out his parents with some Fall Out Boy, he unbuckled his seatbelt and reached for a bottle of water from the center console. Matt leaned backed and downed half the bottle. Charlotte pointed at his seat belt, and he flipped her off and smirked.
He heard Charlotte yell to their mother, but then he couldn’t hear anything except the horrific crash. He went airborne and then was slammed down hard on his back. Matt sat up, ears ringing, vision blurry. He blinked a few times, and when his vision cleared, he found he was sitting on the top of an embankment, and the car sat at the bottom of a hill. He must have fallen out the open back window as the car rolled down the steep incline.
Through the ringing in his ears, he heard his mother and sister screaming. He started to get up, but the explosion threw him backward. He groggily sat up and looked down at the car. The flames engulfed the entire vehicle. He couldn’t even get close to it; the intense heat drove him back every time he tried. Through the tears in his eyes, he saw a figure stand out in front of the wreckage. He yelled out, “Dad!” but it wasn’t his father, it was his brother, David. How did he get here so quickly? Matt shakily got to his feet to go to him. Before his astonished eyes, a large grey wolf appeared just behind his brother. The wolf stood up on its hind legs, attacked and ate David. The wolf slowly walked over to Matt, and he saw that the wolf’s yellow eyes had changed. Its eyes were now blue. The same bright, sparkling blue as David’s eyes. Matt screamed and opened his eyes.
He looked around. Where was he? Then he remembered. He was on a plane heading for his Aunt Nancy’s house in Maine. He had fallen asleep and dreamed again. Matt’s brother reached over, put a hand on his arm, and stared right into his eyes. “Matt, you were dreaming again. Are you okay? Was it the crash?” David’s concern for his brother showed in his eyes.
Matt had dreamed of the crash almost every night since it happened four months ago. He looked right back at his brother. He decided not to tell him the details of what happened in the dream, so he let him believe that it had only been about the crash. “No, David, I’m not okay. Yes, the dream was about the crash, but that’s not all that’s bothering me. We can’t go live with Aunt Nancy. Don’t you remember all the stories that Gramps told us? The curse will come back and destroy us all if our branch of the family ever returns to Roxbury Falls. We can’t go to Maine. Not ever.”
“Matt, we’re already on our way there. We decided weeks ago. We’re going. I’m not old enough to take care of you by myself. I hated leaving California, but I didn’t want family services to take you away from me. I’m the oldest, and that makes me the head of the family now. I have to decide what’s best for us.” David sighed.
At nineteen, he should be out partying with his friends, not working two jobs to support him and his sixteen-year-old brother. He couldn’t handle it anymore. He needed help and his Mom’s sister, Nancy, offered that help. He didn’t want to move out of the city to some backwoods town in northern Maine. All his friends were in L.A., but he had to think of what was best for Matt. If he only had himself to worry about, he would have stayed in Los Angeles. Ever since their parents and little sister died in the car accident, David acted more like a father than a big brother to Matt.
David breathed deep, looked down at his little brother, and started to speak again, “Aunt Nancy offered to take us in rent-free until I can find a job, and even then, she’s only asking us to help her with some grocery money. She even sent us the two plane tickets. It’s an offer we couldn’t afford to refuse.”
“It was an offer we should have refused, David. Gramps said that the cur,”
David cut his brother off in mid-sentence. “Matt, there are no such things as curses. Gramps’ stories were just that, stories.”
“But what if,” Matt said, again cut off by his brother.
“Matt, stop it. Grow up. You need to get your head out of all those books you read and join the real world. You’re not a little kid anymore. You must know that curses, vampires, ghosts, and goblins just do not exist. They are just stories that old men use to scare little boys. This isn’t The Vampire Diaries, Matt. This is real life.” David said.
“What about the fact that we’ve never met Aunt Nancy? How do we know we want to live with her?” Matt asked.
“We’re going to live with Aunt Nancy, and when we land, you will be nice to her, and you will not tell her that you do not want to be there. End of discussion. Get used to it.” David said emphatically.
Matt knew the pointlessness of continuing to argue with his brother. He also knew that, if you just looked at the surface, his brother was right about the move. However, the old stories bothered Matt. Something in his gut told him there was some truth in them. He worried about his weird nightmares, too. David knew about the dreams but thought they centered on the car crash. David told him that the stress and grief over the accident probably caused them.
Matt thought there was more to it than that. He didn’t know what, but his gut told him that something terrible would happen if they moved to Maine. The nightmares changed right after Aunt Nancy called and offered to take them to live with her. The thought of moving to Maine frightened Matt, but the dreams about David scared him even more. The same nightmare every time, and Matt could hardly even sleep anymore.
Matt scowled and shook his head. There was no use arguing about it anymore anyway. The plane was almost to Maine. He glanced at the battery meter on his iPhone, 46%. He slipped the phone into his pocket and unzipped his backpack. He put his headphones away, deciding to save his phone battery, and pulled out the novel he was reading, “It,” by Stephen King. The movie was excellent, and the book was even better. Matt lost himself in the adventures of ‘The Losers Club’ until the plane finally landed, and it was time to depart.
Nancy Holliday watched as the two boys walked down the passageway and into the airline terminal. Never having met them, she still recognized them from all the pictures and phone conversations with her sister. She felt like she knew them already. David, three years older and five inches taller than Matt, typified the Southern California teen, sun-bleached blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and a deep tan that only comes from the California sun. He wore a tank top, baggy jean shorts, and sneakers, obviously not dressed for mid-March in Maine. He looked ready for strolling the beaches of Malibu but needed a quick change of clothes here.
Matt appeared entirely opposite of his brother, except for his eyes. He had the same bright, sparkling blue eyes. Matt’s short black hair ended in bangs in the front, partially covering his right eye. His tan, though not as golden brown as his brother’s, still echoed of California beaches. Matt wore jeans, brown hiking boots, a white t-shirt, and carried a jacket slung over his right arm, evidently prepared for the change of climate. In contrast to David, Matt had a book in his left hand while David wore headphones and carried his iPhone. The brother’s differences stood out as clearly as night from day, but Nancy knew that the brother’s bond had deepened even more since the accident. As the two boys drew nearer, Nancy yelled over to them, “David! Matt! Over here!”
Matt heard Aunt Nancy yell to them and elbowed David, pointing towards her. “Come on, Dave, she’s over there.”
“Yeah, it looks like Brad joined her.” The two boys quickly changed direction and headed directly for their aunt and cousin.
“Hey, guys. Any trouble with the flight or layover?” Nancy smiled and greeted her nephews.
“Nah. No troubles at all.” Both boys responded almost simultaneously.
“Brad insisted on coming along to pick you guys up. Let’s go get the luggage and get out of here. You guys must be tired from that ten-hour flight. After I drop you guys off, I need to pick something up at the office before I go home for the night,” Nancy said.
When they reached the car, David took the front seat to talk to Aunt Nancy about available jobs in the area, and Matt and Brad sat in the back seat and started talking right away.
“Cool book. Did you see the movie yet?” Brad asked as soon as they were settled into the backseat of the car.
“Yeah. I loved it. That’s why I’m reading the book. The book is awesome so far. You read it?” Matt asked.
“Nah. I’m more of a movie guy. I’ve seen that three times so far. Great movie plus Finn is by far my current celebrity crush!” Brad cooed.
Matt raised his eyebrows. “Really? He’s not my type, but he is a great actor. I guess you’ve seen Stranger Things then? I love that series.”
“Of course, I have. It’s awesome! And, yeah, I don’t usually open a conversation by announcing that I’m gay, but you got me talking about Finn, and I couldn’t help myself.” Brad laughed.
“Hey, I’m from California. It’s no big deal there. I’m not gay, but I know a lot of gay guys, and it doesn’t bother me at all. Love is love like they say.” Matt patted his cousin’s shoulder and smiled.
“Besides, he has a gay brother who can kick his ass,” David said from the front seat.
Matt laughed. “You wish. I wasn’t going to blurt that out, but now that he said it, yeah, Brad, you’re obviously cool with us.”
“Awesome! I’ll have someone right in the house to talk about boys with.” Brad said, smiling.
“We’re here,” Nancy said as she pulled into the driveway. She looked at David. “You boys tired, or do you want dinner?”
“I feel like I could sleep for a week,” David said with a yawn.
“I could eat,” Matt said.
“Why am I not surprised,” Nancy said, laughing. “Brad, show both boys their rooms, and then there are leftovers in the fridge for anyone who is hungry. I’ll be home soon.”
The three boys got out of the car and walked into the house as Nancy drove away. As soon as David was shown his bedroom, he stripped down to his boxer briefs and collapsed on his bed. He hadn’t slept much on the plane, and he was asleep almost before his head hit the pillow. Brad showed Matt the rest of the house, and then they raided the fridge for leftover meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans.
“This is really good,” Matt said in between forkfuls of food.
“Mom is a great cook, as you will soon find out for yourself,” Brad said.
After they were done eating, Brad rinsed off the plates and put them in the dishwasher. He sat back at the table across from his cousin. “Mom has already got you registered for school, but thank God tomorrow is Sunday. At least you’ll have one day to chill before you go back to school.”
“I don’t mind school that much. How big is the school? David told me it was smaller than my old school, but he didn’t have details,” Matt said.
“There’s like 300 kids in the high school, I think,” Brad replied.
“Oh, wow. There were 400 kids in each grade at my old school,” Matt said, stifling a yawn.
“We can walk by the school while I’m showing you around town tomorrow. You look ready to drop. You want to go to bed?” Brad asked.
“Yeah, I guess I should. Good night, Brad.” Matt said, yawning again. He went to his room and was asleep in minutes.