James and His Cousins
Authors Note: Short story dedicated to my nephew. Story takes place within the Hayekverse.
James’ Big Day
April 9, 2016
James looked out the window. Alas, he felt some excitement in the air. James loved his cousins. Today, he would spend the night at their house. Now, he stared at the sign, realizing they were on Magnolia, as his mother turned into the street and then made another right.
His mother had brown chestnut hair, always straight. Her brown eyes gazed upon the house as they entered the driveway. She put the car in park and turned to him.
“Okay, James. We’re here.”
Matthew, his younger brother, sat in the back. His hair was golden like the sun, with bluer eyes than the ocean. They had always been close, even with Matty being four years younger. Even at 13, James still hung around his little brother, taking care of him when his mom needed him to.
They entered his aunty Priscilla’s house. The door swung open, and a boy ran toward them.
“Hi James! Hi Matthew!”
The boy was Jacob, 11 years old and sometimes annoying. He clamped his arms around them to hug them.
“Hi Jacob,” James replied.
Another figure emerged from the back of the room, and he first noticed the curly blonde hair. His cousin Isabella “Izzy” Barsoum glanced at him with inquisitive blue eyes and walked cautiously toward them. She waved her hand.
“Hi Bella, how are you?” his mom asked.
Izzy hugged them with little emotion and walked off. Jacob started talking to them, but James blacked it out, figuring it was insignificant. He paid attention to Izzy’s quiet demeanor, which was not like hers. She usually talked a lot, sometimes too much. But now, she barely said a word.
His mom greeted his aunt Priscilla, who emerged from the outside and hugged her. Aunty Priscilla had curly brown hair that waved in multiple directions. She laughed with his mom, but he could not hear what they were speaking about. A few minutes later, his mom walked over and hugged him.
“Have fun! Don’t give Aunty Cilla a hard time.”
“Love you too.”
His mom left with Jacob, who was spending the night at his house while he hung out with the cousins.
Izzy watched TV in the family room. She watched the news, which she never did. The front door swung open, and another teenage girl entered the room. His cousin Cassandra “Cassie” Barsoum joined. James hugged her. Cassie had long straight brown hair with curious brown eyes that often stared blankly when she tired of a conversation. However, joy reverberated on her face as she saw James.
“Hi James!” she exclaimed.
She pulled away and noticed Izzy on the couch.
“What’s with her?” asked James.
“Oh her? Yeah, she was involved in an incident.”
“Incident? What kind of incident?”
“It wasn’t an incident,” Izzy interrupted them. “Someone shot up my work.”
“Yes, someone came into my place and shot up the place. I’m still traumatized.”
James noticed the newsperson speaking and now heard the announcement.
“In related news, police are still investigating the shooting at the Blue Fin Grill. Reports indicate that two men suffered casualties. Both were the alleged shooters. Meanwhile, another is still in critical condition and….”
Cassie switched the channel, and Izzy turned abruptly, irritated.
“Hey! Change that back! I was watching!’
“Why do you want a recap of almost getting shot?”
“I want to see if there is any more information.”
“There isn’t. It’s the same story.”
“Whoa, hold on a moment,” James interjected. “Did you see someone die?”
“They were the bad guys. But the good guy also got shot.”
“Can we talk about something else?” asked Cassie, slightly annoyed.
“You’re not the one who almost got shot,” Izzy said.
“But did you die, bruh?”
“Shut up, Cassie.”
“No, you shut up.”
“How about the both of you shut up?” James asked.
They both gave him side-eyed glances. James walked over and sat next to Izzy.
“Why don’t we do something, maybe to take your mind off it?”
“I don’t want to go anywhere,” Izzy replied.
“So you want to stay here the rest of your life?”
“Sure, nothing could happen to me here.”
“That’s not true,” Cassie insisted. “You could die falling in the shower.”
“Or a car could crash through the house,” James suggested.
“Or a tree could fall on the house,” Cassie maintained.
“Or the fridge could fall on you.”
“You two are stupid,” Izzy declared.
“Any more stupid than you letting something terrible dictate how you run your life,” Cassie fired back.
“Come on, Bella, I’m here. Let’s do something fun. You can drive us.”
James watched Izzy’s face strain and could tell she pondered the idea. Finally, she sighed.
“Yay!” Cassie and James replied in unison.
“You guys want to go eat?”
“Yes,” James said.
“Yes,” James replied.
“No Panda Express!” Cassie maintained.
“You always do this, Cassie! You always have to be the one against what we eat.”
“Not my fault you guys eat food I don’t like.”
“Do you even eat food?” James asked.
“She’s very tiny,” Izzy jabbed. “She sleeps until three o’clock and eats once a day.”
“Hey! That happened one time!”
Izzy rolled her eyes.
“How about you get Panda, and me and James get Raising Canes.”
Izzy drove Cassie and James to Raising Canes and Panda Express. They went to Panda Express first and then went to Raising Canes. There was a long line at Raising Canes, and Cassie sat in the booth to save them the seat. They finally got their food and sat down.
“There was this girl I was holding to throw up in the air,” Cassie began, regaling them with a cheerleading story. “Then, she was stupid and stepped on my face.”
Cassie pronounced stupid with a slight twinge, emphasizing it like she was saying the word ‘boo.’
“She stepped on your face?”
“She stepped on my face.”
“Ugh. Are you telling this story again?” asked Izzy.
“James hasn’t heard it. What else do you want to talk about? The time you hit a trash can with your car?”
“That was one time, and it was my first time driving.”
“Didn’t you also hit some cones?” asked James.
“The instructor made me nervous,” Izzy maintained.
“God, I can’t wait to get my license,” Cassie declared. “And I won’t drive like a grandma like you do.”
“I do that so you won’t die,” Izzy fired back. “Do you want to die?”
“You’re already killing me with boredom.”
Izzy rolled her eyes again. James turned to Cassie.
“How’s your job going?”
“Boring. I spend most of the day standing around. Usually, some weirdos on the beach.”
“Can we not talk about work?” Izzy asked.
“Oops. I forgot. She’s still traumatized.”
“You didn’t get shot at!” Izzy fired back.
“You didn’t get shot at; from what I heard, you were nowhere near the shooters.”
“And you didn’t have to deal with some weirdo homeless guy that started ranting about creepy stuff.”
“Weirdo homeless guy?” James asked curiously.
Cassie turned to James. “Yeah. He started screaming. The police had to come and take him away.”
“Oh, that’s crazy.”
They ate in silence for the next few minutes. Cassie munched on her food and looked at her phone, and Izzy did the same. They drove back to their house. He loved his cousins, despite their eccentricities.
They played on the Nintendo Wii for the next half hour. James mashed on the controls and noticed Izzy’s eyes focus intently on the screen while Cassie gave a blank half-interested look at the television.
“Remember when Jacob fell in the mud?” asked Cassie.
“He’s so annoying,” Izzy lamented.
James mashed the control and exclaimed.
Izzy turned to him. “I want a rematch.”
“This is so boring,” Cassie complained.
“Let’s play again.”
Later, the front door swung open, and a taller man entered. His curly black hair hung lazily over his forehead, and his face looked stressed from everything. The dog outside started barking, and the man spoke to it in Arabic. His Uncle Wael was a funny man but a good guy. He saw James.
“Hi Uncle Wael.”
Wael threw his keys on the counter. He slipped his hands into his pocket, slipped his phone, and connected it to the charger.
“What are you kids doing?”
“Just hanging,” Izzy replied.
“You hungry? You want pizza?”
He pronounced pizza as “bizza” due to his thick Middle Eastern accent.
“Sure,” James answered.
They had eaten a few hours ago, and he was already hungry.
“Okay. I’ll order it now.”
They turned back to the game. James loved his cousins. They always had stories to tell, and they always fed him. He looked forward to the pizza.