The air was cool, filled with scent of the forest as it blew through the tousled light brown hair of Aspen Fullden. He stared whimsical out of the window of the families SUV as they made their way down unknown roads, through California’s pristine and green mountains. They had been on the road for many hours, and Aspen had quite run out of things to do as they made their way up to his eccentric grandfather’s house whom he hadn’t seen since he was about six. He vaguely remembered the man as being the most entertaining of his family, but the night in question had been some family gathering and the specifics of it had been lost to the hazy recesses of his mind. And now they where on their way to see him… He couldn’t imagine what for, but then again it wasn’t really his problem.
The car ride their from L.A. Was about a 16 hour drive. They had stopped at a hotel along the way, but he had long ago finished his book, and is video games where no longer entertaining. Now there was only the view of the speedily shifting greenery to satisfy him, and while on a normal occasion he would have been enraptured, his boredom was playing war with his interest, and winning. He sighed and turned away from the window, staring resolutely ahead of them at the empty road of the winding mountain pathway. He barely acknowledged the faint hum of the low playing music, whatever it was. He figured it was maybe classical.
He sighed again pulling out his drawing pad from his backpack. However once out he proceeded to merely stare at it, no creative ideas coming to his mind at all. He sighed again.
“Hey kiddo, how we doing back there?” Aspens’ overly charismatic father asked. He didn’t mind his dad all that much, but it just seemed like He and his father had absolutely nothing in common.
" How about we tune the radio into some baseball eh? Bet that would keep those sighs from escaping, whadaya say? " his dad looked at him from the front seat smiling. Aspen proceeded to look out the window again resisting the temptation to roll his eyes
“Sure it will… By putting me to sleep…” He thought, but responded, " sure dad… Whatever you want. " his dad chuckled and gave him the atta’boy wink, before proceeding to switch the channel to baseball. His mother said nothing. She understood Aspen a lot better than his father, and new that sports was the last thing he cared about, but trying to tell his dad that was like trying to tell a rock to get up and walk around.
Point being it didn’t work very well. After a while she said,
“Where only about twenty minutes away now Aspen dear. Are you excited to see your grandpa Tiberius?” Aspen sat silently clearly deep in thought.
" Yes… " he eventually responded, “But I think I would be more excited if I knew anything about him, or why we are going…” His parents exchanged one of those unreadable parent looks and then looked forward again. His father looked apprehensive and nervous, and his mother uncomfortable.
“Well… Your grandpa is… You see your grandpa is part of a special group You see. And we’ll your father and I didn’t want you around that environment. But he… Invited us to stay for a little while up there… You known to get to know you and address some… Family matters.” His mother said clearly trying to skirt the subject.
Aspen was a rather average boy. He had a well proportioned face, with a small nose, his eyes where a sort of bland hazel color, and he was neither fat nor skinny but right in the middle, but the one thing Aspen did have an excess of was intellect. He was an adventurous and curious spirit and learning was his passion. He was also very good at reading situations even if he didn’t fully understand them and his impression was that his parents where hiding something. This left him curious but he had learned long ago that trying to get any information out of parents was like trying to wrench a bad tooth out… Painful, long, and hard.
So he merely nodded and smiled and said,
“Alright sounds good. I can’t wait to meet him for real.” The car wound through the mountains at the steady speed of 30 miles per hour. His mother began to consult her phone to see the directions and looked carefully along the road for a turnoff. she eventually spotted it and made a sharp turn onto it, heading up a dirt path lined with trees. It had been a long time since she had been to her dad’s house, but everything still looked just the same. Meanwhile Aspen was staring wide eyed at the great oaks and pine trees that lined the road, and to his astonishment, the Aspen, from which he derived his name sake.
“Look mom! Aspens!” He shouted. His mother smiled wearily as she watched the road. The shadows seemed to move across it in odd patterns and she paid special care to avoid them. Soon the road became a gravel driveway and as they turned a corner, a magnificent house right out of myth came into view. It was grand. That was the best way to describe it.ur
It had the old majesty of colonial houses and had indeed been around for almost as long. Towers soared up to the sky and peaked through the foliage of the elder trees that surrounded it. The architecture was almost gothic in its antiquity and it fairly breathed mystery and adventure. Aspens’ heart soared! Perhaps this trip was going to be worth it after all.
Standing on the grand patio of the house was his grandfather. He watched the car approach. He was old. Really old. His body was skinny and small, the ancient and noble clothes he wore seemed to be hanging off him, he had a long white beard, and long sparkling white hair.
As he approached the car Aspen saw he still moved with a grace and poise of someone much younger however, and something in his manner bellied a great strength, quite misleading from his physical frame. He appeared to have stepped out of an altogether different time and place. Coming from the ancient path of myth and adventure. His mother stopped the car a smile melting away her worried features. She got out of the car and went to her dad.
“Daaad!! So good to see you!!” She said going and hugging him. He laughed a deep laugh full and rich and hugged her back his face a mask of impish joy as he greeted his daughter. " Merrilyn! How good to see you so glad you could make it! " Aspens’ father had gotten out as well and went to shake the old man’s hand. “John, wonderful to see you as always. Been keeping busy I hope?” He said with a smile and a wink. Aspens’ father chuckled
“Oh you know me!” He said laughingly.
" I have always got a project or two going. "
Aspens’ father was an architect for a fairly prestigious company. As Aspen exited the car, his grandfather’s attention immediately turned to him and a great smile lit up his face. Up close Aspen could see his grandfather’s eyes where a nearly emerald green.
“And you must be Aspen…” He said the grin still on his face.
Aspen couldn’t help but be caught up in this jovial old man’s play.
" That’s right sir. " he said grinning back. His grandfather laughed.
“No need for that m’lad!” He said as he went and took aspen shoulders to better look at him. " I’m just a doddering old eccentric who lives out in the woods!! " he said jokingly.
Aspen could very much see himself liking this man very much, and wondered once more why he had never gotten to know him. After exchanging the pleasantries Aspens’ grandfather smiled and said “come on in everybody. Dinner will be soon and then we can catch up.” He escorted them into the house where Aspen was to encounter the second big surprise of a day that seemed to have started so dull…