Kelly Olynyk knocked on the door of his parent’s house. It looked much the same as it did when he left, five years ago. The paint was a little chippier perhaps, the trees in the front yard a little less vibrant. The welcome mat, in all its threadbare glory, had, as ever, the opposite of its intended effect. And, surprise, the doorbell still didn’t work.
The visitor shifted restlessly, backpack over shoulder and duffelbag in hand. How silly would he look if he came all this way and his parents weren’t home. He supposed he should have called them, but why ruin the surprise? He could feel the neighborhood’s collective eyes on him; seven-footers with hippie-hair didn’t come along often.
Just as he thought about trying to sneak in through the back, the door opened. His father, a short man with a perpetually bewildered expression, stared dumbly at the sight before him before turning back around and yelling “Honey, Kelly’s back!”. With that he walked back inside.
Kelly smirked. Some welcome. He followed his father into the house, making sure to duck. Just as with the exterior, the interior was just the same as he remembered, if a little more dated. The olive-green carpeting played nicely with the cheap Van Gogh reproductions adorning the walls. As he navigated the entranceway, a blur shot out from the kitchen and wagged its tail happily.
After following Kelly into the living room, the dog curled up at his usual spot in front of the fireplace. It was not a very smart creature, and Kelly’s long-awaited appearance made no impact on its mind. Similarly the two parents seemed barely to acknowledge Kelly’s presence. The mother continued her crossword without looking up for awhile, before finally speaking.
“Didn’t expect to see you Kelly. What have you been up to?”
Kelly wasn’t surprised at his parents lack of excitement. He couldn’t remember the last time he saw them truly enthused.
“Oh, you know, stuff. Can you believe they pay me to play basketball?”
He intended for this to be a joke; it was not interpreted as such.
“I thought that was just a hobby and you were doing some computery new-age technology work. Who pays you?”
“The NBA, dad. I have my own apartment in Boston and everything.”
“A whole apartment for playing a dumb little game from some anonymous three-letter organization? Now I’ve heard everything.”
Silence filled the room, except for the panting of Reginald, the dog. The air-conditioning, so seldom needed in Canada, was another thing that stayed the same. It was broken, and Kelly felt beads of sweat rise on his forehead.
Sensing the conversation over, he navigated the familiar hallway to his old room. The door creaked from disuse as he peered in. Unlike everything else, this room had changed quite a bit. He walked back to the living room.
“Hey, where did you put my Rick Wakeman posters? And my collection of LPs?”
His mom still didn’t look up. “Oh, we threw those things out a few years ago while redecorating. I thought you left behind that stage of your life. I hope you don’t mind.”