The tires of his rental crunched over the snow packed driveway of his parents’ house. Jay glanced at the clock on the dashboard. It was just after 6.30am. He cut the engine and looked out the windshield for a few minutes not quite believing he was there. The sky was a leaden gray, heavy with the potential of a snow storm. The talk radio station on the drive up kept warning of a ‘big Nor’easter blowing through New York and New England so keep those shovels handy, folks’.
His brain was screaming for him to turn around and go back to New York. He didn’t want to be here – home – again in North Creek. He had avoided the place for years but now the death of his brother, Brandon, had forced him back to Vermont. He caught sight of his reflection in the mirror. His eyes were tight with exhaustion and looked more brown than hazel today. They always looked darker the more serious the situation.
It had never felt right to come home. There were too many things he couldn’t talk about. After spending so long in Special Ops in the army then joining the counterintelligence unit in New York, he’d drifted away from his family. He knew his father would look at him differently now than before he left, when life was easier, when he was still their son, when they still knew him. He couldn’t talk shop with his father like Ben could. Jay’s job involved secrets and being someone else. What would they think of him now that Brandon was dead? They already blamed him for Brandon joining the army. He didn’t need the guilt or the looks.
He absently rubbed the stubble on his face as he looked at the old farmhouse cloaked in snow on the outside, cloaked in sorrow inside. He expected something to happen but it was silent. No welcoming committee, no one running out in anticipation of his arrival. Pure white, untouched snow was still piled all over the front yard nearly two feet deep in places. The bare trees stuck up from the buried ground like zombies suddenly trapped by the onslaught of winter. His brother, Ben’s car was parked at a hurried angle in front of Jay’s rental. He wondered how long Ben would have been here, all night? Jay had left his apartment as soon as he got the call from Ben.
Jay undid his seat belt and slowly got out of the car. He stretched his legs and back, deliberately taking his time, hoping there was some coffee on inside. He’d filled up with gas and had a Coke on the drive up but a Coke at 3am wasn’t much of a pick me up. Adrenalin and a cold wind with the window open had helped.
He crunched through the snow and stepped up on to the porch. He hesitated, taking a deep breath and holding on to the door knob a fraction too long, before opening the door that led in to the kitchen.