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Duncan sat in the driver’s seat of the idling car. He stared at the place he had called home for eighteen years and wondered how much time would pass before he would see it again.
Duncan had lived with his parents and twin sister in a modest home in a small town just west of Pueblo, Colorado for his entire life. Only once had he ever left the state, and that had been on a camping trip his family had taken in Wyoming when he and Zoe were just eight years old. He didn’t really remember too much about that trip, aside from having to poop in the woods and bury it. (That and the ass rash he ended up with after wiping with a mysterious fuzzy leaf.) So, needless to say, he was a little nervous about the fact that he was about to embark on a journey across the country with just his sister.
As he sat in the car waiting for his sister to come out of the house, he thought about all the things that had led him to this terrifying moment. He supposed it all started when his father spoke to an old buddy that held some kind of important position at Clemson University.
“Hey guys!” he had said to Duncan and Zoe one evening several months ago. “I just got off the phone with Ralph, and he said-“
“Who the hell is Ralph?” Duncan interrupted.
“Ralph! You know, Ralph? My old friend from college, he stayed with us for a weekend once when you guys were like ten years old. Anyway, he told me-“
“But you didn’t go to college, Dad,” Duncan interrupted again.
Duncan’s dad cut his eyes at his son, purposely looking as annoyed as he could.
“Well…Ralph did. Anyway, Ralph works at Clemson University, and he told me-“
“Where’s that?” Duncan asked.
“Look it up on a goddamn map, son!”
Duncan smiled inwardly. He loved annoying his parents.
“He spoke to someone in the athletic department there, and even though they don’t usually recruit this far away, they agreed to look at some tapes of you playing volleyball, Zoe!”
“Oh!” Zoe replied excitedly. “Really?”
“Yep! There’s a good chance that they’ll consider giving you a scholarship!”
Zoe was an excellent volleyball player. She wasn’t super tall like a lot of girls who played, but she was a superb defensive specialist and a great server. When they were just thirteen years old and Zoe’s immense talent became evident, their parents had put their all into getting her the best training for her sport. They had even put her on a strict diet that she had followed perfectly for the past five years. Duncan, of course, had refused to go along with said diet, but since he wasn’t the future star collegiate athlete that they viewed his sister as, his parents weren’t too fussed about that.
“Wait a sec,” Duncan said to his dad. “When you started this conversation, you said ‘hey guys’, implying that you wished to have the attention of both me and Zoe. However, I don’t see how this news affects me in any way.”
Duncan’s dad turned his gaze back to his son, a look of loving disdain on his face (or perhaps it was disdainful love).
“If you would just have some patience, you little curmudgeon, I will tell you exactly how it affects you.”
“How about it affects you because it’s great news for me,” Zoe said to Duncan. “And, you know, I’m your twin…and you care about me…and want nice things for me?”
Duncan considered this for a moment before turning his attention back to his father.
“What else ya’ got, Pops?”
Zoe’s shoe flew through the air and smacked Duncan on the side of his head. He barely flinched though, as this exact event had happened to him multiple times throughout his life.
“Aside from that,” his dad continued, “Ralph also agreed to get someone from their music department to watch videos of you playing your tambourine!”
Duncan closed his eyes, grabbed the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger, and slowly shook his head back and forth.
“First of all Dad, I don’t play the tambourine. Only children and hippies play tambourines. I play the trombone. Not to mention the baritone, the trumpet, and the tuba.”
“Well…great! The more the merrier I suppose.”
“Second of all,” Duncan continued, “these ‘videos’ that you speak of…yeah, they don’t exist.”
“Sure they do,” Duncan’s dad replied.
“No…they do not. For every, oh I don’t know, five million recordings that you guys have made of Zoe playing volleyball, you’ve made exactly zero of me doing anything.”
Duncan’s dad rolled his eyes.
“It’ll be nice when you grow out of this exaggerating teenager phase that you’ve been in for forever,” his dad said.
“Forever?” Duncan repeated. “Now who’s exaggerating?”
“Besides, you can just borrow my webcam and record yourself playing anything and everything that you can. I’ll email you guys links to some paperwork you’ll need to fill out online. Try and get it done as soon as possible so I can let Ralph know to look out for it.”
“Well I think it sounds great, Dad,” Zoe said. “Thank you so much! And tell Ralph thanks.”
Their dad smiled at Zoe, then looked at Duncan expectantly. bursa escort
“Thank you father,” Duncan said robotically.
“Huh. I’ll choose to take that as sincere.”
A couple of months later, Zoe’s scholarship offer came in the mail. Their parents were thrilled, of course. Their family wasn’t quite poor, but they were certainly closer to poor than they were to rich. The fact that their daughter was going to get a free college education meant a hell of a lot to their family, and Duncan understood that.
More than that, he was indeed truly happy for his sister. As much as he gave her a hard time now and then, he really did care about her. She was a great person. Smart, kind, ambitious, pretty, etcetera. He sometimes wanted to hate her for how great she was, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. She was just too damn likable.
Duncan, on the other hand, was far from perfect. Well…maybe not supet far, but he was certainly no Zoe. He was kinda smart, a little kind, pretty good looking…not at all ambitious. As much as he tried not to think about it too hard, he knew that he had a mild inferiority complex when it came to Zoe. For that reason, he would always purposely go against the grain a little bit, especially when it came to pleasing his parents. That way, he figured, when he didn’t live up to the impossible standard set by his sister, they could just chalk it up to him being difficult instead of him just simply not being as good as Zoe.
But, a few days after Zoe got her scholarship, when he found himself standing in the living room, surrounded by his parents and sister, as he read aloud his own scholarship offer from Clemson to play in their marching band, he finally felt for once in his life that he matched up to his sister in the eyes of their parents.
“Congratulations!” Zoe squealed as she hugged Duncan. “I’m so glad I don’t have to go all the way to South Carolina by myself now!”
“Wait,” Duncan said, “…that’s where Clemson is?”
“Idiot,” Zoe replied flatly.
The next day, their parents surprised them with a brand new car. Well, at least it was brand new to them. It had a few miles on it, but it was safe and great on gas. Zoe had expressed concern about their parents not being able to afford it, but they argued that it was a tiny cost compared to what they would have had to have paid for two college tuitions.
“Now obviously,” their mother had said, “there is only one car, and two of you. So you’ll have to share. I figure you guys can trek across the country together this summer on your way to school!”
“That sounds great, Mom,” Zoe had said. “But I actually have to be at school by the first of July to start practices, according to my letter. Is that gonna be a problem, Duncan? That’s probably way earlier than you have to be there.”
Duncan made a point of scanning his letter.
“Uhh…nope, no problem,” he said. “My letter says the same thing.”
“You have to be there by July 1st too?”
“For band practice?”
“Yep, go figure,” Duncan said with a shrug as he pocketed his letter.
So there Duncan sat, a handful of days before they had to be at college, waiting in the car for his sister to come out of the house so they could begin their trip across the country.
“I’ve packed all your meals and snacks that you’ll need during the trip, sweetie,” he heard his mom say to his sister as they came out the front door.
“Oh, Mom, you’re the best!” Zoe replied as she threw her arms around her mother’s neck.
“What about my meals and snacks?” Duncan asked as he poked his head out the window of the car door.
“Would you like me to go in the house and pack you some kale salads and rice cakes, too?” his Mom asked with a smile. “Because I will if you ask me to.”
“Uhh…I think I’ll just fend for myself along the way, actually.”
His mom leaned through the open window and gave Duncan one last hug and kiss goodbye as Zoe got into the car. Just then, their dad came trotting out of the house.
“Hang on!” he called out to them. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet.
“Here,” he said, handing them each a wad of cash. “You know all that overtime I’ve been working lately? Well…it was all for you guys. You’ve both made me very proud.”
Their dad choked back tears as he spoke. As much as he tried to fight it, Duncan felt himself getting a little misty eyed too. Dad tears were the worst, he thought to himself.
It was a picturesque moment as Duncan and Zoe pulled out of the driveway, taking one last look at their childhood home, parents standing in the driveway waving goodbye to them.
“Boy, that was rough,” Duncan said to Zoe as he turned off his parent’s street. “I almost lost it when I heard Dad getting choked up.”
Zoe didn’t respond. Duncan figured that maybe she was crying herself and just couldn’t talk at the moment. Wanting to confirm his suspicion, he cut his eyes over to look just in time to see her rolling down her window and pushing out the bag of healthy food their mom had given her. Containers bursa escort bayan and bags splattered all over the street.
“Zoe, what the hell are you doing!?” Duncan asked as he slammed on brakes.
“K.F.C.” Zoe responded simply. “Now.”
“Kentucky. Fried. Chicken. There’s one just a few miles up the road on the edge of town.”
“You…you want K.F.C.?”
Zoe very slowly rotated her head around and looked at Duncan with fire in her eyes.
“Yes,” she said with a terrifying edge to her voice.
Duncan felt very confused, and wasn’t completely convinced that his sister wasn’t just screwing with him. She ate a vegan diet, and hadn’t consumed so much as a meatball since middle school.
“You’re joking, right Zoe? I’m pretty sure they don’t serve seaweed salads there, or whatever it is you’re accustomed to eating. I mean, you can’t possibly-“
Zoe reached over and grabbed her brother aggressively by his shirt.
“Don’t fuck with me right now, Duncan. I’ve been hungry for five years, and if I don’t get a goddamn chicken leg with a side of cole slaw and mashed potatoes in the next five minutes, I’m going to start eating your fucking face. Now DRIVE, BITCH!”
Duncan floored it.
“That’s so hot the way you’re eating that, by the way” Duncan said to his sister sarcastically in the dining room of the K.F.C.
Zoe looked up at Duncan with a large flap of fried chicken skin dangling from her mouth and a smear of gravy across her cheek. A half empty bucket sat on the table in front of her, and a pile of bones sat on her plate. She held up a greasy middle finger at her brother, sucked the chicken skin into her mouth, and continued her feast.
“You could have kept the food Mom packed for you,” Duncan continued. “Or at least waited until we were further away from their house before tossing it. She’s likely to see it now.”
Zoe swallowed a large mouthful before responding.
“Eh, maybe a raccoon will eat it before she sees it.”
“I don’t even think a raccoon would want to eat that, honestly.”
Zoe shrugged and took a bite of biscuit.
“I’m quite shocked to see this side of you,” Duncan said. “You’ve been such a Hermione for so many years…it’s kinda nice to see you break free from your chains for once.”
Zoe took a break from eating and looked up at her brother.
“Oh come on, it’s such an easy comparison. Rule follower, people pleaser, scholar…not to mention your bushy head of brown hair.”
Zoe patted her hair lightly with both hands.
“I like my bushy brown hair.”
“Oh, I like it too, that wasn’t meant to be an insult. But…”
“Well, you’ve got a few chicken bits stuck in it now.”
Zoe dropped her hands away from her hair and frowned.
“So is this your version of college girl gone wild?” Duncan asked as he reached across the table and picked the food out of Zoe’s hair. “‘Cause I don’t think people are gonna want to watch videos of this.”
“No,” Zoe responded. “I mean, I don’t plan on eating like this at every meal or anything. But right now it feels so good just to pig out and eat however much of whatever I want, ya’ know?”
“I’m sure it does. Why didn’t you ever fight Mom on that crazy diet she’s had you on for all these years?”
“Eh, I knew she meant well,” Zoe said with a shrug. “And who knows? Maybe the diet was just the thing that gave me that extra zip in my serve, and maybe I wouldn’t have gotten the scholarship without it.”
“So are you gonna revert back to that way of eating, then?”
“Oh, god no.”
Duncan got his phone out of his pocket and pulled up Google Maps.
“So, if we were to drive straight to Clemson without stopping,” he said, “it’d take us about a full 24 hours to get there. Now that would be with just me driving, of course. Google Maps doesn’t factor in your granny style of driving when it calculates the time of a trip.”
“Hey!” Zoe said, spraying Duncan with biscuit.
“Sorry Zoe,” he said, wiping the masticated food off of his arm. “That was rude of me to insult old ladies by comparing your driving to theirs.”
“I’m not that slow of a driver, Duncan.”
“I was riding with you the other day when a school bus passed us!”
“That school bus was going way too fast! Those poor children…”
“Anyway…I figure we’ll drive as far as we can today, stop late tonight at a hotel, get up super early tomorrow, and maybe we can make it there by tomorrow night.”
Zoe glanced up at Duncan and scrunched up her face in confusion.
“Why?” she asked.
“Why do we need to get there by tomorrow night? We’ve got several days before we need to move in. What’s the rush?”
“Uhh…no rush, I guess. I just figured it’d be nice to make good time is all.”
“Make good time? What the hell for? Why don’t we take our time and enjoy ourselves a little bit?”
“Yeah! I mean, who knows when, or if, we’ll get another chance to drive through these states again. escort bursa Don’t you wanna stop and see some things along the way?”
“Funny that you should ask, brother of mine. The other day I was looking up fun things to do in Kansas, and-“
“Bet that was a short list.”
“No, there were plenty of things that this website suggested! One of them sounded really cool…it’s this museum. ‘The World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things’.”
Duncan closed his eyes and thought hard about what Zoe just said.
“Huh?” he said simply.
“The World’s Largest Collection,” Zoe said slowly as she held her hands far apart in the air as if to mime that something is big. “Of the World’s Smallest Versions,” she continued, holding her thumb and forefinger close together in front of her face. “Of the World’s Largest Things,” she finished, again holding her hands far apart.
“Oh!” Duncan said with a nod of understanding. “Okay! …yeah I still don’t get it.”
“Ugh,” Zoe sighed in frustration. “It’s a museum with a lot of small versions of big things in the world.”
“Oh…well why didn’t you just say that to begin with?”
Zoe rolled her eyes.
“And where exactly in Kansas is this?” Duncan asked.
“Um…a town called Lucas I think?”
Duncan looked on his map and found the town.
“Nope, can’t do it sis.”
“Sorry, it’s just way too far off the route.”
“So what!?” Zoe exclaimed. “Again, what’s this need that you have to be so time efficient?”
“It’s a man thing, you wouldn’t understand.”
“Right. Well, big driver man, we’re going to this museum.”
“But we aren’t.”
Zoe paused and looked at her brother pointedly.
“Either we go to the museum, or I’ll make you pay.”
“Make me pay? What are you gonna do, serve volleyballs at my head?”
Zoe smiled, removed the last chicken leg from her bucket, and tore half the meat off in one chomp while staring menacingly at her brother.
Duncan looked back at her, feeling a little worried at first, but then shaking it off.
“You’ve got nothin’,” he said to her as he stood up from the table. “Now, I’m going to the bathroom. I suggest you do the same because we don’t have another scheduled stop until three hours from now. And mop yourself up while you’re in there, you’re a mess.”
Zoe guzzled down the rest of her soda, never breaking her angry gaze away from Duncan.
“I! I WANNA ROCK AND ROLL ALL NIGHT…AND PARTY EVERY…I! I WANNA ROCK AND ROLL ALL NIGHT…AND PARTY EVERY…”
Zoe had been loudly butchering the chorus of the classic Kiss song for about thirty minutes as they drove, and Duncan’s resolve was starting to wear thin.
“We’re not going!” Duncan yelled for about the tenth time.
Zoe turned herself in her seat to face Duncan and continued her “singing”.
“I! I WANNA ROCK AND ROLL ALL NIGHT…AND PARTY EVERY…I! I WANNA-“
“Could you at least just finish the goddamn line?” Duncan begged. “He says in the song that he wants to party everyDAY! Could you at least just say the word day!?”
Zoe leaned over to Duncan and pressed her lips almost directly onto his ear.
“I!” she whispered. “I wanna rock and roll all night…and party every…
She paused dramatically. Duncan cut his gaze over to her, rage in his eyes.
“I! I WANNA ROCK AND ROLL ALL NIGHT…AND PARTY EVERY…I! I WANNA ROCK AND ROLL-“
“Alright!” Duncan interrupted. “We can go! Just please shut the hell up!”
Zoe kissed him firmly on the cheek and sat back quietly in her seat. Duncan looked over at her briefly and saw that she wore a smug look of satisfaction all over her face.
“Bitch,” he mumbled under his breath. Zoe patted his leg gently and closed her eyes.
The museum turned out to be pretty cool and worth the trip, Duncan thought. There was tiny mini-golf, a tiny Mount Rushmore, a tiny book shelf with tiny books, and even a tiny version of the world’s largest ball of stamps.
“You know, it’s just a regular sized ball of stamps,” Duncan said to Zoe. “I mean…the world’s largest ball of stamps is pretty cool, but to make a tiny version of it…that’s just making a small ball made of stamps. I don’t really understand the appeal this one.”
“It’s art,” Zoe said. “You don’t have to get it.”
Zoe ended up buying a postcard from the museum’s gift shop, and talked Duncan into buying her a t-shirt.
“You know, Dad gave you the same amount of money as he gave me,” Duncan told her as he paid for the shirt. “If you wanted a shirt, why didn’t you just buy it yourself?”
“Because it’s more special if it’s a gift from you,” Zoe told him.
“Even if you force me to buy it?”
“Ugh, fine. But you’re buying dinner. You know, food tastes better when someone else pays for it.”
They left the museum and walked around for a while looking for a place to eat. They settled on a cafe that ended up having pretty decent food. After that, they got back in the car and drove for a little while longer before finding a motel to stay at for the night. It wasn’t the greatest motel in the world, but it was cheap and comfortable, so overall they were satisfied with it.
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