Everyone said Sunray Road was a cursed road. It was a dead end with broken and faded asphalt no one bothered maintaining. No one lived down it and there was nothing at the other end.
Jake stood at the public end of it, his arm still sore from where he’d been grabbed and the forming bruise on the side of his face making his cheek tender. He was sure if he cared to look he’d find more bruises.
If Sunray was cursed, it couldn’t be any worse than his father’s fists.
The road curved back on itself, hiding whatever lay at the end behind overgrown weeds, grass and trees. What little remained of the sidewalk had been covered with plant life and cracked by the constant push of roots.
If there was nothing at the other end, he reasoned, why was it supposedly cursed? Even his friends at school weren’t about to explore Sunray, and they’d been brave enough to sneak into Old Man Sam’s yard and steal all the toys lost over his fence.
Stepping carefully to avoid the worst of the holes in the asphalt, Jake began down the road. Once there had been lines, but now all that remained were disjointed flakes of white paint.
He rounded the curve and stopped, listening for any sign of danger. A few birds chirped, and the distinct whine of a flying insect somewhere to his left, but no sounds indicating people. Just the rustles of plants as the wind caressed them. He smiled, liking the peacefulness of it.
Sunray curved a little farther back before it finally revealed the end to Jake. He’d thought it was a dead end, but in reality, it was a cul-de-sac. A single house stood on it, looking old and forgotten.
For the first time, worry made him stop. No one had ever said anything about a house on Sunray, and even the signs at the opening said it was a dead end with no exit.
It was the quiet that convinced him to move forward. Jake knew fear, he knew anger and he knew danger. They sounded like doors opening too roughly and harsh voices. They didn’t sound like soft rustles of plants or a sparrow singing.
There was no mat on the front door, and Jake doubted anyone would even answer, but his mother had taught him manners once upon a time, and so he knocked. The door squealed a little as it opened and he jerked back from the movement.
With no other movement however, he hesitated for a moment before stepping closer.
“Hello?” His voice chose that moment to crack, making him sound younger than he was. No response came out and he swallowed. “Is it alright if I come in?”
Still no response, and he dared step inside, looking around.
The furniture had been covered in now-dusty sheets to protect the cloth. Moving from the front living room into the kitchen he saw pots and pans still hanging on the wall and an outdated refrigerator.
It was quiet, and it was empty, and for the first time, Jake felt like home
By A.J. Helms