I walked out of the airport and into the grey afternoon sky with a heavy heart. Today had not been a good day, and it was going to get worse from here.
My older brother Loomis had just passed away recently. It took a while for the news to get to me and my dad, and that was just the day before yesterday. Today was the funeral, so naturally I rushed down here, to the town where I was born, but never got the chance to grow up in. Dad never really was a father to Loomis, and after him and my mom split after my little sister Emma was born, I went with dad and Lumis stayed with mom to help her take care of Emma. I haven't seen Emma since she was two, but I've kept in touch with her on the phone and we've skyped a couple times.
I set my heavy luggage down on the sidewalk and sat on my suitcase. I sighed contently and ran my fingers through my layers of straight brown hair. Dad never liked my hair, said it was too emo. It wasn't. Dad is just really old fashioned and not really in tune with what's hip these days. I liked my hair. It reached all the way down to the middle of my back, and my side swept bangs were just short enough that they didn't cover one of my emerald green eyes.
I felt my phone buzz in my jean pocket and I fished it out. I looked at the screen and the name Hutch flashed across it. I sighed again and pressed the green button. "Hello?"
"Hey, uh… is this Heather?" a young man's voice asked.
"Yep, and you are Hutch?" I asked back.
"Yeah. I'm in the parking lot. Do you need help with your stuff?" his voice seemed heavy with sadness. No doubt. I've heard a lot about him from the times I've talked to Loomis, and I could tell that he was his best friend.
"Nah, I'm fine. I'll catch ya at the car." I answered. Then I hung up. Usually I say goodbye or something, but I didn't this time. I almost feel guilty when I don't say bye on the phone.
I reached the little dark blue car and saw a handsome guy step out when he saw me. He smiled sympathetically at me and didn't hesitate to give me a hug.
"I'm so sorry about your brother, Heather." Hutch whispered.
I closed my eyes. "I'm sorry too…" I stepped back and looked up at him. "You and Loomis were really close?"
"Yeah, we were." Hutch answered, frowning and looking down at the asphalt. The memory obviously bothered him. He cleared his throat. "Uh, the funeral starts at two. Do you need to change?"
I looked down as he gestured at my dark skinny jeans and white lulu lemon hoody. "Nah, I don't really do formal wear. I know it's a respect thing and all, but the whole wear black thing isn't really me. It doesn't matter what I wear anyways."
Hutch smirked and picked up my suitcase and put it in the back of the car. I tossed the rest of my stuff in the back seat and sat in the passenger side. Hutch slipped back behind the wheel and soon we were heading down the highway.
"When was the last time you saw Loomis?" Hutch asked.
I shrugged. "Last year, at my high school graduation." Then I laughed a bit. "He gave me this sick game as a present way before it was even legalized. Like Call of Duty, but waaaay better."
Hutch smirked. "You're a gamer?"
"Uh huh." I replied smugly, leaning back in the seat some more. I looked over at Hutch and noticed he was watching me. "What?"
"You're a pretty positive person, despite the funeral and all." Hutch pointed out, like he didn't know what to think about it.
I shrugged. "I'm not afraid of dying, or of Loomis dying. I'm sure he's in heaven now. Sure, it sucks that he's not around anymore, but the memories of him that I have are all good ones."
Hutch blinked and went back to watching the road. "That's a… nice way to look at things."
I just smiled, but said nothing, and we fell into a comfortable silence for the rest of the drive over.
When we arrived at the funeral my eyes automatically welled up with tears. I looked down the small pathway between the chairs that led to my brother's coffin. I had to look away, trying to force myself not to start balling. Sure, I seemed fine in the car, but I'm just not mopey every second of the day, even when something terrible happens. I don't know why I'm like that. Maybe I'm a terrible person for it… I don't know.
"You ok?" Hutch asked.
"Yeah, I'm fine. I'll see you after." I shook my head and went to find a seat among the large group of people gathering for the ceremony.
The ceremony was brief, thankfully. There was plenty of praise for Loomis. He was obviously a popular guy. Soon everybody started to disperse, some leaving and some stayed behind to talk to the family. I knew my mom and Emma would be around somewhere.
As I walked around to try and find Emma, I spotted Hutch talking to a pretty little blond girl. I don't know why, but I vaguely remembered her. I approached them and finally realised that she was a friend, more acquaintance, of Loomis, and Sarah, who I've met a couple times. I couldn't place a name to her face though.
"Hey, Heather. How are you doing?" Hutch asked when he noticed me, leaning down to give me another hug.
"I've had better days." I replied.
Hutch smiled softly and gestured to the blond. "This is Abigail. Abigail this is Loomis' sister, Heather."
Abigail gasped a bit. "Oh yeah! I remember you."
"Same." I smiled.
"Uh, hey Heather, you know you just missed Emma. She went over there." Hutch pointed.
"Really?" I turned my head and sure enough I saw a little girl of no more than fourteen talking to a couple of older people. "Thanks Hutch. I'll be a minute."
I ran up behind Emma, excited to see her. I tapped her shoulder and she spun around. Her eyes grew wide when she laid eyes on me.
"Hey!" I cheered, holding my arms out.
"Oh my God!" Emma squealed, practically knocking us both to the ground. "Heather! You're really here!"
"Yeah. I'm sorry I couldn't have visited you sooner, under better circumstances too." I muttered, feeling a little guilty.
"It's ok, I'm glad you are here." Emma smiled weakly. Her eyes were puffy from crying and I felt even guiltier that I hadn't been crying as much as her.
We sat down and got talking, catching up on the latest stuff. A good half hour passed before we were interrupted.
I looked up to see my mom standing over us. She was looking down at me with a scowl clear on her face. She had always been a bit sour about me choosing to live with dad, even though I was only seven at the time. We talked a little bit, but eventually I stopped talking to her.
"You finally had the decency to come visit your family after all this time. Too bad your brother had to die for that to happen." Mom spat bitterly. Then she added sarcastically. "Your father couldn't make it? That's just unfortunate."
I stood up and faced her with confidence. "I can't believe you would do this at your own kid's funeral of all places, Barbra." I called her by her name, mostly to piss her off. "I am going to be the adult here and walk away before things go where you really don't want them to go."
"Heather…" Emma called sadly as I started to leave.
I looked over my shoulder and smiled. "Don't worry, Em. We'll definitely have to hang out while I'm here. I'll call you, alright."
Emma nodded and I turned to leave. I walked swiftly to the car, where I saw Hutch waiting for me, leaning on the bonnet of it.
"So, do you need help carrying your stuff to your mom's car?" Hutch asked.
I walked right passed him and plopped myself down into the passenger seat and slammed the door shut. I crossed my arms and huffed in frustration, not saying a word as Hutch got behind the wheel. He stared at me for a moment, trying to comprehend the situation, not really wanting to make me say anything. I must have looked like I had fire in my eyes.
At last, thankfully, he just put the car into drive and pulled out of the parking lot. "Don't worry about it, Heather. It could be worse."
"Yeah." I replied sarcastically. I knew he was right though. Still, there was the little predicament of where I was going to stay for the time that I was here for.
"I'll tell you what." Hutch said. "My place is… inadequate for you to live in right now, but I'm sure my friends will let you stay with them. They're good people."
I smiled with relief and finally let my hair out of the ponytail. "Thanks Hutch."
At least I have one less thing to worry about.