Jacob (Part I)
Jacob is a series of flash fiction that takes place in 2005, when we were still trying to figure out if Jack and Meg White were siblings or exes.
It was autumn and there were pumpkins outside every door. Maybe that made the neighborhood cliché, but Jacob secretly loved it. It felt like people had agreed on something for once. He was outside raking the leaves off his driveway, listening to a new song by Iron and Wine when John, Becket, and Kenny pulled up in Kenny’s mom’s Toyota Camry. “Come on, man. Hop in. Let’s get you outta here,” Becket yelled out the passenger window.
Jacob was constantly battling between what a seventeen-year-old should like and the things he actually liked: like pumpkins, and neighbors, and raking leaves. His parents’ driveway was long, and he wasn’t even halfway finished. In truth, he didn’t want to go. He liked the mental music video he was creating, sweeping dried leaves into piles with “The Trapeze Swinger” playing through his headphones in the background. There was a rhythm to it. A repetition that felt comforting.
“Dude, come on!” Kenny honked, and Jacob realized he had gotten lost in the song again.
“Coming,” he shouted, ripping off his headphones and throwing the rake into some bushes. He hopped in, bumping his knee on the car door.
“Dude you were spacing out majorly,” Becket said, laughing.
“Ha, I know, right?” Jacob settled into the backseat next to John, who had a piece of licorice pursed between his lips like a cigarette.
“Let’s go to the 76th on Walnut. I need a lighter,” Becket said.
“Yeah, I’m thirsty,” Kenny added.
They piled out and flooded the aisles of the gas station. John rifled through the candy bar shelves. He was quiet and particular. He only liked certain flavors. One of the few times he would speak up was when he was informing a store owner about the type of candy they should stock—about how everyone would be happier if they had a greater selection.
Becket was eighteen and loved to prove it. Jacob concluded that this was the only reason he bought cigarettes, so he could show his I.D. They had yet to see him smoke one. “I wouldn’t do that to Kenny. His mom will smell the cigarettes in her car and have it out for him,” Becket would say. Kenny would reply with a smirk.
They drove around until the white, rainy sky turned dark blue. “Guys, I better get home,” Jacob said.
“Same,” John murmured. They pulled up at the end of Jacob’s driveway, and he hopped out. “See ya guys,” he said, as Kenny squealed down the street.
Jacob looked down and saw his headphones on a pile of wet leaves. “Dangit,” he said, holding them up and watching them drip. He tried plugging them into his iPod shuffle, but there was only a crackle, then silence.
He looked up and saw that Mrs. Kendrick had put a candle in her pumpkin, which sat outside her front door, carved to look like Minnie Mouse. Through the window, he could see his sister setting plates on the dining room table, and could hear his dad playing the piano. He sighed and walked up his driveway.
His sister had carved their Jack-O-Lantern and had gone for a “surprised” look, which resembled a bowling ball more than anything else. He reached into his pocket and pulled out one of Becket’s many abandoned lighters. Flicking it on, he lit up the bowling ball, adding another small bit of illumuniation to his street.
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