A knock came to the door. Allen had visitors. He lived alone, comfortably alone, and no one ever knocked unless they were salespeople or pizzapeople. He did not wish to be sold to, even if it was pizza, because he hadn’t made an order. So he stayed in bed, absently browsing the internet on his laptop.
Another knock. A ring. He closed his eyes. Please go away, he thought. I’m not home.
Ring ring, knock knock. Then his phone, at last, buzzed like a hard fart against his bedside table. He tugged the phone out of its charger and looked at the text. It was from his Uncle Eric. You home? it asked.
He said, Fuck, loudly on the F and fading voicelessly to a bare throat-click for the k. He stuffed himself into some jeans and walked to the front door and opened it.
“You are home!” said bristly-mustached Uncle Eric. “How you been, kid?”
“Yeah, good,” said Allen, willing his face to lift. “How are you?”
Uncle Eric said, “Just in the neighbourhood. Brought the fam–thought we’d surprise ya.”
It was true. Behind him stood two of Allen’s cousins–large boys a few years younger than Allen. His aunt was also there, and so too were two attractive girls Allen supposed were his cousins’ girlfriends.
“Oh. Great, cool, yeah, come on in, or?”
They came on in.
“Hi Allen! How are you?”
“Yeah, good,” said Allen, hugging his aunt.
“Heya bud,” said cousin one.
“How goes, bud?” said cousin two.
“Yeah, good. Uh, and you?”
“This is Amy and this is Jo.”
“Hi, Allen, right?”
“Yeah, hi. Good to meet you.”
“Good to meet you!”
“This your place? Cozy…”
“Yeah, sorry, didn’t have time to, uh.”
“So what have you been up to, bud? Still workin’ for that place?”
“Uh, no, I quit to focus on school.”
“Oh, thought you were done school.”
“Have you talked to your sister lately?”
“Um, I haven’t really.”
“Just had dinner with her yesterday, yeah, she’s doin’ good, doin’ good.”
“Is this a typewriter?”
“Yuh, yep. My grandma’s. Like, on my mom’s side.”
“Such a fuckin’ hipster.”
“Hey, no, I think that’s awesome. So many people are using typewriters now.”
“Yeah, hipsters, ha ha! No, I’m fuckin’ with you, bud, this is pretty sick.”
“I like getting drunk and punching the keys.”
Allen shrugged it off.
“What are you taking in school, Allen?”
“Oh. Gonna teach?”
“He’s gonna write,” said Uncle Eric proudly.
“He’s gonna write the next Harry Potter and make us all rich.”
“Hey, Allen, you still seeing that girl? Where’s she?”
“Yeah, uh, no, not really. I saw her yesterday, but no, we’re not dating.”
“Allen, you mind if we crash here for the night? We’re just on our way south and hotels are so goddamn expensive in summer.”
“Oh, okay, uh.”
“It’s okay if you can’t, we can manage.”
“We have blankets. We can settle for the couch and floor…”
And they did. They stayed the evening, and Allen wanted to go back to his room, or at least his typewriter, but his family was visiting, so he had to visit. He visited about school, about what kind of work he was maybe going to someday do, but mostly he listened to his family and the two strange attractive girls all talk to each other while he smiled and said things like, “Yeah,” and, “Oh,” and, “Right,” and often just, “Mm.”
“We’ll be gone early, so don’t worry about seeing us off,” said Uncle Eric. That was the best thing Allen heard that night.
But after a lengthy goodbye where Allen tried to say goodnight but everyone was having beers and laughing and he didn’t want to just sneak off to hide in his own house, he eventually said, Okay, goodnight, good to see you, and then sneaked off into his room to hide for the night. They laughed all night, there behind the bedroom door. He tried to sleep, thinking about family he never kept up with, thinking about how cute those girls were, then mostly nothing except tiredness and whiplashing laughter.
It was one of those sleeps where you don’t know if you’ve slept, except time seems to have passed.
He remembered his visitors, and he listened. He kept hearing small noises, wondering if they were his family or if they were regular house noises or noises from outside on the street. Eventually he was satisfied that they were gone: they said they’d be out by six, and it was eleven. So he got up and left his room.
And there they were.
“Hey, bud, how’d you sleep? Did we keep you up?”
“We’re running late, Allen, sorry.”
“Did we wake you?”
“Do you normally sleep in on school nights?”
“What is your schedule, anyway?”
“Yeah, what are you taking this year?”
“Like, Shakespeare and stuff, eh?”
“Just picking a place for breakfast, then we’ll be…”
“Man, so glad I finished school. You probably like it better than I did, though.”
“You see any good movies lately?”
“How’s your mom?”
“Did you say you and Cecily broke up, or?”
“What kind of stuff do you like writing?”
And suddenly it was Christmas, and Thanksgiving, and the family baseball game, and a family reunion, and the questions and the answers were the same and nothing ever changed fast enough in the time Allen spent hiding, and no, they never went home, the world never went home, only Allen wanted to go home, but they never let him.
256’s three random writing prompt categories were, “A bad breakup,” “Family reunion,” and, “A knock at the door.”
Got lost with this one.