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Trip Back Home by TyeSays

"I can do this...I can do this..." Kayden whispers quietly to himself as he approaches the front door of his parents house, "I can do this..." he takes a deep, ragged breathe before raising his hand and knocking on the wooden door, "I can do this," his eyes widen when the door swings open, revealing a big, bulky man with tanned skin and a freshly shaved head behind it, "..Hi Dad," he says after a couple long, awkward seconds.
"Hey bud," Kayden's eyes widen in surprise when his father suddenly steps forward and wraps his big, muscular arms around his tiny torso, "It's been too long," he says, his breath hot against his sons ear, "I've missed you," he pulls back and smiles, "We've all missed you."
"I've missed you too," Kayden says, trying his best to hide the surprise from his voice; his father's smile grows bigger.
"Well, c'mon in," he steps aside, allowing his son access to his home, "Your mothers in the kitchen preparing dinner, and Elsa is upstairs working on her 'welcome home' gift for you."
"A 'welcome home' gift?" he steps inside the house, and is almost instantly hit with the aroma of freshly baked brownies and blueberry pie.
"Yeah, she's been working on it ever since she found out you were coming home for the summer," the last time he'd seen his sister was a little four years ago on his eighteen birthday. She, along with their mother and grandmother, had come with him to the bus station to say goodbye and bid good luck on his journey to Sunnydale, Florida.
"Kayden!" he turns around. Standing there, at the top of the stairs, was his sixteen year old sister Elsa, "You're finally here!" she hurries down the stairs, taking two steps at a time, and practically jumps into her older brothers arms the moment she reaches the bottom, "I've missed you so much," she says.
"I've missed you too," he pulls out of the hug and holds his sister out at arms length, "Wow, you've changed," and it was true, she had. Over the past three years, she's grown at least two or three feet taller, and has developed what most girls called an hourglass figure. She'd also cut her hair, which had once been long enough to touch her lower back, into a pixie short of cut. It suited her though. She, in his opinion, looked fantastic.
"I've changed? You've changed!" she says before reaching out and grabbing a hold of the thick braid of hair that hangs from the back of his head, "Look at all this hair! It was so short the last time I saw you, now look at it!" she releases the braid, "And your beard!" she touches the thin layer of curly, black hair that covers the bottom half of the young man's face, "What happened to my baby faced older brother?" she asks teasingly.
"He grew up," Kayden said with a smile, and it was true. After he'd moved away, he'd decided that - since he was no longer under his father's roof and therefore didn't have to live by his strict rules - to grow his hair out. He'd grown tired of the short business cut his father had forced him to maintain over the years, and wanted to try something different, so, he stopped going to Florida barbershops on a weekly bases, and stopped shaving his face every morning. Now, four years later, he had a thick braid of hair that just touched his lower back, and a decent-looking beard.
"I can see that," Elsa says with a smile, "Oh! I almost forgot! Stay right here, I'll be right back," she turns on her feet and bolts back upstairs. Kayden can't help but smile as he watches her disappear onto the second floor. His smile fades, though, when his father suddenly clears his throat. Slowly, he turns around.
"I'm glad you're back, son..we really have missed you," Kayden's smile slowly returns.
"I've missed you guys too," his father smiles.
"After your sister gives you her gift, go take a shower. Sorry bud, but I'm not gonna eat dinner with someone who smells like twenty other people," Kayden chuckles.
"Alright," his father smiles once more before turning and walking into the kitchen. Kayden turns back towards the stairs just in time to see Elsa bounding back down them.
"Here is my 'welcome home' gift to you," she says before forcing a small, badly wrapped box into Kayden's waiting hands, "I've been working on it since Dad announced you were moving back for the Summer," she watches excitedly as Kayden rips off the bright-colored paper and opens the box.
"Oh, wow," inside the box is handmade bracelet, made of bright red, light blue, seaweed green and yellow strings. Attached to the strings are a bunch of little charms; all of which, he knew without asking, represented something important to him and his sister. Among the strings and among the charms were a handful of beads that spelled out the words 'Big Brother'.
"..Do you like it?"
"I love it," he picks up the bracelet and slips it onto his hand, "Thank you," he puts the box down before reaching out and pulling Lillian into a tight hug.
"You're welcome," she hugs him back, "I'm so glad you're home," she pulls away, "Ready for dinner? Mom's been cooking all day,"
"I'mma take a quick shower first, but I'll be back in a couple minutes. Try not to eat all the food without me."
"No promises," Elsa says with a smile before walking around her brother and entering the kitchen. Kayden smiles before pushing the strap of his backpack further up his shoulder and walking upstairs. This...has been a lot easier then he expected it to be. He had expected yelling, and a lot of it, considering that's all he got the day he left home. The entire time he was packing up the car, his father did nothing but scream profanity at him, saying that Kayden didn't appreciate all he did for him, saying that he's leaving because he's too stubborn or big-headed to follow a simple set of rules. Kayden can't help but roll his eyes at the memory. The fact that his father was so calm and relaxed today, especially after seeing sons appearance, really made the young boy smile. Maybe things were finally gonna get better between him and his dad. Maybe. He enters the bathroom...

A good thirty minutes pass before Kayden finally turns off the water and steps out of the shower. He quickly wipes the steam off the mirror before setting to work on drying himself off. It only takes him a minute or two to dry his body, but it takes him a good ten minutes to dry, comb, and rebraid his hair. Once he was done, he flung the braid over his shoulder and set to work on getting dressed. Once that was done, he picked up his dirty clothes - and his bag - and walked out of the room. He tosses the clothes into the hallway hamper, his bag into his old bedroom, and heads on downstairs.
"'Bout time," his father says when he enters the kitchen, "We were wondering if you'd ever come down,"
"Sorry," Kayden's cheeks turn a light shade of pink, "Hey mom."
"Hey honey," Kayden's mother, a beautiful middle-aged woman with chocolate-colored hair and stunning blue eyes, says before walking over and giving her son a hug, "It's so good to see you."
"It's good to see you too," he sits down at the table, next to his sister and directly across from his father, "Everything smells so good," he says before reaching out and grabbing a slice of pie off the dinner tray; his sister is already nearly done with her piece, while their father hasn't touched his at all. His father's got his gaze locked onto his son, "...Is something wrong?"
"No," he shakes his head.
"...Why are you staring at me?"
"I'm not staring at you, I'm staring at that," he gestures, with his fork, towards Kayden's braid.
"What about it?"
"How long, exactly, are you planning on keeping it?"
"I haven't really thought about it," Kayden digs his fork deep into the slice of pie, "Awhile, I suppose, till I get sick of it, but I don't think that'll happen, at least not for another couple more years," he stick a piece of the pie into his mouth.

Days passed, and Kayden's father never mentioned his hair again; much to Kayden's surprise. His father had always been strict about the way Kayden wore his hair, so he'd expected to be hammered and bugged constantly about it. On his eight day back, his father had asked him if he'd like to spend the day with him while his mother and sister went out shopping for the day. "Sure," he answered, "Why not?" and that was it. They bid the females of the house goodbye before flopping down on the couch to watch some TV. After flipping through countless channels, they decided to watch what looked like a really bad sci-fi channel movie.
"I'll get some popcorn," his father said before getting up and disappearing into the kitchen. Kayden sat back, allowing himself to sink further into the couch's overstuffed cushions. After a moment or two, he reached back, pulled his hair out from between his back and the cushions, and threw it over the back of the couch.
"Much better," he says with a smile.

In the kitchen, Kayden's father couldn't help but frown as he stared at the thick, oversize braid that hung over the back of his couch. It bugged him, knowing the braid was attached to the back of his sons head and not his daughters. After a moment of hesitation, he opened the junk drawer and grabbed a hold of his wife's haircutting scissors. He stares at the freshly polished blades before looking back at the giant braid. "...He'll thank me for this someday," he says before closing the drawer, grabbing the bag of popcorn from the pantry, and walking back into the living room...

"So what's happening?" he asks before tossing the bag onto Kayden's lap and leaning against the back of the couch.
"I'm not sure," Kayden pops open the bag and shoves a handful of popcorn into his lap, "One second the characters were talking about heading out of town, the next they're all running screaming from a giant purple lizard," Kayden's so caught up in what he's watching, he doesn't notice when his father suddenly grabs a hold of his luscious braid, "I think this blonde girl is about to die, though.'
"Why do you think that?" slowly, he raises the scissors to the top of the braid - stopping once he reaches the top rubber-band. He quickly lowers the scissors, though, when the front door suddenly swings open. He quickly releases the braid and slips the scissors into his back pocket as the two woman walk into the house.
"What are you guys doing home?" Kayden asks.
"The mall's closed," Elsa says before slumping down onto the couch. Their father silently curses to himself before turning away from his children and walking away. Kayden glances over his shoulder at his father.
"Where are you going?"
"Upstairs," he says grumpily, "To take a nap..." $and that was that.

"Ben?" Kayden's father slowly wakes up, "I'mma head to the store real quick, just thought I'd ask if you wanted anything while I was there."
"I'm good," he says groggily before looking down at his wristwatch, "Jesus..." It's six-thirty-five, "I slept the whole day away..."
"It's fine, you didn't miss anything," she stands up off the bed, "You sure you don't want anything?"
"I'm sure."
"Alright, I'll be back in a bit," she heads for the door, "Oh!" she stops and turns back towards her husband, "Before I go, I should tell you that Elsa isn't here."
"Where is she?"
"She's spending the night at Katie's house."
"And Kayden? Where's he?" he rubs his eyes.
"He's in bed."
"This early?"
"Yeah, he was complaining about a stomach ache, so I gave him some aspirin and sent him to bed. Try not to wake him, okay?"
"Okay. Love you."
"Love you too," and with that, she was gone. Ben waited till her heard the front door open, then slam shut before jumping out of bed. If he wanted to get rid of that retched braid, now was his chance. He pulls the scissors from his pocket as he walks out of his room. He walks down the hall and slowly, quietly, edges his way into Kayden's room. Kayden laid curled-up in a ball on his bed. His back was to the door, so Ben had complete access to the braid. Ben tightened his grip on the scissors as he approached the sleeping boy's bed. He reaches out, and gently grabs a hold of the retched braid that's been taunting him since his son arrived home.
"Mm..." Kayden begins to move about in his sleep..if Ben's gonna do this, he has to do this now. He moves closer, "Mhm..." he places the scissors right above the first rubber-band right as Kayden's eyelids flutter open. He begins to sit up right as right as Ben slams the scissors down. SCRUNCH! "Hm? Wha-" SCRUNCH. Kayden turns his head to the side and catches a sight of his father, "Dad? What are you-?" SCRUNCH! His eyes widen, "DAD!" he tries to pull away, but his father pulls him back by the hair. SCRUNCH! He continues to mercilessly hack away at the stubborn braid. It's so thick it's taking him forever to chop through it. Kayden tries to pull away, but his father - again - forcefully pulls him back.
"Stay still!" his father hisses. SCRUNCH, SCRUNCH, SCRUNCH!
"Dad, please!" Kayden tries to fight back. He reaches back and tries to push his father away, but his lack of work-out sessions and the fact that his father is an ex-army man makes that impossible to do..SCRUNCH! "MOM!" he calls out desperately, "MOM!" SCRUNCH! SCRUNCH, SCRUNCH! Finally, Kayden flies forward as the braid is finally hacked off his head. He whips around, causing the hair still on his head to fall forward into his face. The hair on his head is just long enough to touch the center of his chin. "Oh, my God..." he stares at his now lifeless braid, that now sits limply in the palm of his fathers hand. He looks at his father. "Why did you do that?!" he asks, his eyes filling with tears. All those years of growing it, styling it, combing it, brushing it and braiding it...wasted.
"Because, I'm sick of my only son looking like he's my second daughter," he drops the braid, and Kayden watches as it falls to limply to the carpeted floor, "Now that that part is over..." he grabs Kayden's old computer chair and pulls it over, "Sit down."
"....No," Kayden knew damn well what would happen if he sat in the chair.
"Sit. Down. Now," Ben growled. Now that the braid was gone, he was determined to get rid of the rest. He wasn't about to let Kayden run crying to his mother with hair that'll soon be long enough to pull back into a small ponytail, "Kayden James, you'll do as I-" Kayden made a break for it. He jumped off the bed and bolted towards the door...but his father was too fast for him. Ben jumped into the air and tackled Kayden to the floor before he could step foot into the hallway.
"Dad, please!" Kayden pleaded, but his father was no longer in the mood for talking. Instead, he grabs a handful of Kayden's thick brown hair, held it tight, and chopped it off right at the skin, "Please, stop!" Kayden pleaded as he watched clumps of his hair fall to the floor next to him. His father didn't say anything, instead he continued to grab handfuls of his hair and cut them off right at the scalp. Eventually, Kayden stopped struggling, and instead allowed his father to hack away at whatever was left on his scalp...the pile of hair next to him grew bigger and bigger with each snip of the scissors.
"I'm sorry it had to happen this way," Ben said as he grabbed a hold of Kayden's sweaty bangs and chopped them off right at the skin. Kayden didn't respond, instead he just stared at the pile of hair. Tears streamed down his face as he felt his head progressively grow lighter and lighter, "And your done..." Kayden sighed as his father got off him, "Now that that's done.." Ben grabbed Kayden by the shoulder and pulled him to his feet, "I want you to go into the bathroom and shave that beard off right now, and if you don't, I will pin you again and do it myself.." and with that, he was gone...disappearing downstairs in search of the vacuum. Kayden stared down at the pile of hair on the floor before wiping his eyes and walking down to the bathroom...

What he saw in the mirror made the tears come even harder. His hair had been 100% butchered, cut right down to the skin all over. He reaches up and gently touches the rough layer of hair that just barely covers his scalp. "I knew I shouldn't have come back..." he whispers before picking up one of the razors his mother had bought him before he arrived. He set to work on shaving the beard he had worked so hard to perfect...

When his mother came back, Kayden was already back in bed and under the covers...so it wasn't till breakfast that she got to see his freshly shaved face and newly cut hair. She nearly dropped her coffee mug when she saw him. "What happened to you?" Kayden's eyes were still red from crying. Kayden didn't answer, instead he simply sat down at the table. "Kayden?"
"Kayden, your mother is talking to you," Ben said from behind the morning newspaper.
"..I cut my hair..." Kayden said quietly.
"I can see that," she was examining his head, "But why? You loved your hair."
"I thought it was time for a change..." Kayden whispered quietly. His mother stared at him, unsure of what to say. Kayden looked at her with red-tinted, still wet eyes. The second they locked eyes, she gasped. She turned to her husband.
"You did this to him, didn't you?" Ben looked at his wife, "I can't believe you..."
"He looked like a girl, Jane, it had to be done!"
"I can't believe this.." Jane looked at her son, "Kayden, I am..so sorry this happened."
"It's okay..."
"No, it's not okay..." she glared at her husband, "I want you to apologize to your son, right now."
"I'm not apologizing for doing him a favor," Ben said gruffly.
"Can I be excused?" Kayden asked.
"Of course," he stands up, "Are you okay?"
"I just need some air..." he says before walking out of the kitchen and out of the house. He walks across the lawn and enters his car. He leans back in his seat before looking up at his parents house. A few long, hard seconds pass before he decides to grab his spare car key from the glove department and start up the car. He pulls out of his parents driveway, and speeds away. As he sped down the street, he decided right then and there he was gonna go back to his home. He didn't care if he left his bag of clothes behind, or that he didn't say goodbye to his sister, there was just..no way he could be under the same roof with his father for another second. He sped up, deciding if he were ever to come back, it would be for a short visit - a few hours at their house, then back to the airport - and it would probably be just the holidays. No summer trips. He shakes his head...he knew coming here was a bad idea..he should have listened to his instinct and just stayed back in Florida.He glances at the bracelet around his arm. "...I'm sorry, Elsa..." he mumbles quietly before turning onto the highway.

Kayden didn't look back, not even once, as he made his way to the airport...

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