WAIT! Before you read this, have you read ARRIVAL ?
Teddy and Parker headed west on I-37 causing tall skyscrapers to grow smaller and smaller until they were nothing more than a speck in the rearview mirror. Without the obstruction of the tall buildings, Parker was able to see the clear blue sky; There wasn’t a cloud in sight. Having lived in La for so long, even on the sunniest of days the sky never looked so blue.
Rolling down the window, Parker let the cool breeze in. As they took a deep breath, Parker could feel the difference in the fresher, less polluted air; This was just what they needed.
“God, I should’ve came sooner.” Parker said, causing Teddy to let out a deep, belly rolling laugh that filled the entirety of the tuck.
“I’ve been trynna tell ya.” He said, shaking his head.
Turning their attention to the window, Parker watched as they drove alongside miles and miles of farmland. As the past wheat, corn, and various other crops, Parker thought back to their childhood. Having been born in the concrete jungle that was New York City, Parker was very much a city slicker. However, since Parker and their brothers were very young, Teddy and their mother, Bella used to take Parker, their twin, Paxson, and Parker’s older brother, Carter, up to Canada to visit Bella’s parents every summer and sometimes for long breaks during the school year.
During the summer months, the Halls would stay at the cabin with the rest of Bella’s side of the family. While Bella’s brothers and Teddy drank, grilled, and talked sports and the news, Bella and her older sister would watched Paxson, Carter, and their cousins play football in the field on the side of the house. As for Parker, they were usually in the garage with their grandfather, watching him work on his car.
Taking another deep breath, Parker smiled.
“God I’ve missed this place.” Parker said.
As they drove on, they past a field where some cows where enjoying some grass.
“Did you see that? Those were cows! Actual, real life, cows!” Parker said excitedly.
It’d been so long since Parker had been out in actual nature. Sure Parker went on hikes with Paxson and Carter, back home, but LA didn’t have cows or farmlands as big as the ones they were seeing now.
Laughing Teddy shook his head.
“Yes Parker, I saw the cows.” He said, amusement lacing his every word.
About an hour and a half later, Parker grinned from ear to ear as the sign welcoming them to Richmen came into view. As they speed past the sign, a howl came from the backseat, causing Parker to turn around.
“We’re almost there buddy.” Parker said, ruffling Hamilton’s coat.
As they drove past little boutiques, a pharmacy, a bar, and a gas station, Parker reminisced on some of the time they and their brothers spent in the small town. From what they could remember, there wasn’t much to do in Richmen; At least not as nine and eleven year olds. Most of the time, Carter, Parker, and Paxson would spend their time rummaging through their grandparents’ basement, digging up old photos of their mother as well as playing dress up with their grandfather’s old police uniforms. Sometimes one of the kids would put on their grandfather’s Stetson and they would play cops and robbers. They’d run around the house, pretending to be in a car cash, until either Bella, Teddy, or one of their aunts or uncles would yell at them. The trio never really got in trouble though; anytime the scolding would begin, either their grandmother or their grandfather would instantly come to the children’s rescue, calming that Carter, and the twins were just ‘doing what kids do’.
As Teddy turned off the main road, and onto a winding back road, Parker noticed that they weren’t headed in the direction of the family cabin.
“We’re not going to the cabin?” Parker asked, confused.
“No, why would we be?” Teddy asked, looking at Parker like they’d sprouted a second head.
“Don’t you and mom live at the cabin?” Parker asked slowly.
Teddy shook his head.
“Oh God no. That place is massive! You know how much money it would cost your mother and I to heat it in the winter? No, we’re just two people. We don’t need all that space.” He said shaking his head.
As they drove through the winding back forest, Parker tried to guess where their father was taking them but it’d been so long since Parker had been up north that Parker couldn’t even recognize a single landmark. So, sitting back, Parker decide to just enjoy the views. Then, about twenty or so minutes later, Teddy turned onto a quite, suburban looking street and made his way to the very end. Stopping in front of a red mailbox with the name ‘Hall’ painted on it, Teddy turned into the driveway as the door of the house swung open and out walked Parker’s mother, Bella.
With a smile so wide Parker was shire it could be seen from space, Bella rushed down the front steps.
“My baby!” She said excitedly as she made her way down to the car.
As Teddy shifted the car into park, Bella arrived at the car, going straight for the back window.
“Oh Hammy, look how big you’ve gotten.” She said in a baby voice as she took Hamilton’s face in her hands.
Scratching behind his ears, Bella cooed and awed at him as Parker sat in the front dumbfounded.
“Well geez mom, missed you too.” Parker said sarcastically.
Teddy laughed as Bella gave Hamilton one last scratch on his head before making her way to Parker’s window. Pulling Parker’s door open, Bella pulled them from the car before taking Parker’s face in her hands and kissing both their cheeks as well as their forehead.
“I always save the best for last.” She said, holding Parker at an arm’s length.
“Yeah right.” Parker said, playfully rolling their eyes.
Bella laughed as she pulled her child into her side.
“Come on Parks. I made a spread of you favorites.” Bella said.
Making their way inside, Parker entered the living room where photos of Marcus, Paxson, and Parker lined the walls. Looking from one photo to the next, Paker watched themself grow up with every photo. First steps, missing teeth, first hockey, baseball, and basketball games, Marcus, Parker, and Paxson making their first film, it was all there, on the wall, in chronological order.
“You know, most people just have their pictures on their phone or on Facebook, or Instagram, or in the cloud.” Parker teased.
“Why would I put my face all over the internet, so a bunch of strangers can look at me? No thanks.” Teddy said with a scoff.
Parker opened their mouth to explain that he could privet his accounts and that the cloud isn’t a social network, but they closed their mouth when they realized this was their stubborn father they were talking to. So instead of pushing the subject, they simply dropped it.
“Oh Parks, you must be starving after all that traveling. I made your favorite, homemade chicken pot pie. Why don’t you get settled in and then we can eat.” Bella said with a bright smile.
“Actually, I’m kind of exhausted from traveling. Can we eat after I’ve had a nap?” Parker suggested.
Bella smiled as she rubbed Parker’s side lovingly.
“Of course honey.” She said.
After kissing their mother, Parker followed their father up the stairs and into the guest bedroom. After Parker thanked him, Teddy existed the room while Parker opened up their suitcase, pulling out a pair of shorts and a t-shirt to sleep in. Then, grabbing their towel, Parker headed into the bathroom to wash off their long day of travel.