I’m extremely proud of this one chapter, which I concocted over the weekend. Pretty awesome, huh?
Adventures with My Time-Traveling Uncle
(by Allison Rose)
Behind his back, Jacob Kessler has been called a lot of things. The most polite of these is “eccentric,” which is what my mom calls him. Dad finds it easier to just call him a bum. I guess I’m supposed to call him Uncle Jake.
Truthfully, though, there was never any need for me to call him anything until a few months ago, when he’d just shown up on our doorstep with what looked like a cross between a skateboard and a jetpack tucked under one arm.
My parents and I had been eating supper at the time, which is something we rarely do together. Well, they were eating. I was just poking at the cold lump of an egg roll on my plate. I’m not that big a fan of Chinese takeout. When Mom is working late at the law office and Dad’s swamped editing what is to be the local newspaper, I usually scramble some eggs and have it with toast.
Mom was just about to remind me to “eat it already, Kimberley” when the doorbell rang. Understandably, I was only too eager to get up and answer it.
Apparently, Uncle Jake is yet another member of my mother’s family who inherited the infamous (but typically recessive) redheaded and farsighted genes. He squinted uncertainly through circular glasses underneath a moptop of shaggy orange hair — and I, the only other redhead in the family, squinted right back at him.
Needless to say, I didn’t immediately recognize him.
“Er, hello,” said the man I didn’t immediately recognize as my uncle. His gaze shifted around the empty space over my shoulder, as though he was trying to see into the house, before he continued with, “Are your parents home?”
Oddly, I found myself silent, at a loss for words as I contemplated what would be the best response. This guy seemed a little familiar, yet weird. I’m not psychic, but I could tell he gave off these weirdness vibes. I wanted to send him away because he gave me the creeps, but I also wanted to ride that jetpack skateboard of his. It was a tough call.
Eventually, Mom came over, wondering why I was taking forever. When she saw our visitor, though, her expression faltered for several aggravatingly long nanoseconds before she plastered on a smile that would’ve put the Cheshire Cat to shame.
“Jake!” she exclaimed. “What a pleasant surprise. Please come in!”
Noticing my dumbstruck expression, Mom turned to me and added, “You remember my brother Jake, don’t you, Kimmie?” That would’ve gone across well if she hadn’t called me by my embarrassing nickname.
“Not really,” I replied in all honesty. There was this one vague memory of his visit to my fourth birthday party. There was a lot of crying.
“Who’s there, Louise?” my father called from the kitchen. He made his way into the foyer, but did a double take when he saw Jake. Wordlessly, he pointed at the tall, skinny redheaded man who stood before him.
“Hey, Roger,” said Uncle Jake, pumping Dad’s hand up and down as if he’d extended it to shake. Dad smiled – more like cringed – awkwardly in return.
“So,” my mom intervened, attempting to break the block of ice that seemed to have formed around myself, my father, and my uncle. “What brings you here?”
Uncle Jake paled, then blushed, then turned a few more interesting colors. “Well, um, I moved in just last week and I figured I’d track you guys down and say hello. It’s been a while,” he added sheepishly.
“I’ll say,” Dad muttered just a little too loudly.
Mom was undeterred. “Oh, that’s wonderful! To where?”
“You know that house at the corner of Elm and Vine that’s been for sale forever? The sellers must’ve been desperate to get rid of it; the price was so cheap, so I grabbed it!.”
That house. There was only one house at the end of Elm that was always for sale, and despite pronouncements, predictions and premonitions that no one would ever buy it, my uncle had.
“We’ll come by and visit sometime,” Mom declared, smiling tightly at my dad and me.
She could call me Kimmie, make me weed the garden, eat turnips, and listen to heavy metal music every hour of the day for as long as I live, but there was no way Mom would get me to visit the old Spencer House. My bus passes every day on the way to and from school, and it’s like something out of The Addams Family.
Rumor has it that the house is haunted by the ghost of some old miser named Hezekiah Spencer, who’d built it back in 1916. Rumor also has it that a lot of high school students hang out there. Only the latter has actually been proven, but I stay away from that place at all costs.
And this new development was not going to change my mind.
“Well,” said Jake, running for the door, “I’d best be heading back to the house. Danny’s going to want my help with dinner.”
“Oh, Danny still lives with you?” Mom asked, surprised.
Jake nodded hurriedly. “Yeah. He’s good.” With that, he was out the door.
Moments later, I heard a loud boom from somewhere outside. I ran to the window to see the man I now accepted to be my uncle sitting awkwardly in the middle of our otherwise quiet street. Smoke wafted up from his jet-powered ride, which had fallen to the ground at his feet.
Dad was, for once, tactfully silent.
“We really ought to visit him sometime,” I heard Mom say absentmindedly behind me.
In your dreams, Mom, I wanted to say.
But alas, dreams can (and occasionally do) come true….