"I'm just so glad you're home," my Dad sighed as we hit another pothole in the dirt road. I thought they would have paved the driveway over by now, but I guess not much changes around here.

"Yeah," I answered simply. I really needed a change. After that terrible incident… I took a deep breath a shook my head. I wouldn't think of that right now, not when so many other thoughts swarmed my brain. Like moving back home.

Was I making the right choice? I know I needed different scenery, but was this too different? I don't know how I would cope with living on an outdoor adventures camp. My Dad had told me that I could become a camp leader and help direct the various camp groups that stay here alonge side the other few leaders Dad had said he had hired in the past few years.

I hadn't been back home for two, maybe even three years. Not even to visit. I scoffed to myself, looking out the ute's window at the barren landscape. What a son I've been.

I didn't miss a lot of things that I use to call home. I didn't miss the flies and the other insects and animals - namely the snakes - and I surely didn't miss the cold mornings when the heater or the fireplace didn't work.

My family though was one of the few things I did miss. I missed my Dad, and my Mum, along with my 16-year-old sister, Ally, and even my twin siblings, Cadence (Caddy for short) and Cody who were 7. It had pained me every day to be away from them. I had grown up in a household with just me and my younger sister, then the twins were born. At first, I couldn't handle the chaos of a family of two teenagers added with two screaming babies. That's when I first ran away. Well, technically I didn't run away…

Just then Dad turned the ute around a bend and I found myself staring at my home. Although it didn't look like my home. So many things were different. There were small buildings, which I assumed were long-drop toilets, scattered on the flat part on the bottom of the hill. There were more buildings that I could see off in the distance that I would defiantly be checking out later. So much for nothing ever changes around here.

Dad soon parked the truck near one of the buildings I did recognise - the house. That building had been there forever, well, as long as I could remember. I clambered out of the truck and within seconds I was accosted by two squirming beings. Laughing, I knelt down and hugged my twin siblings with all the love I had been keeping just for them. Apparently, it was a bit too much love, as they both tried to pull out of the hug to catch a breath.

"I missed you guys," I smiled at them.

"We missed you too, Jakey!" They each latched on to a hand of mine so I was being pulled by two little people, which surprisingly was stronger than one big person. Or maybe it was just that I would go anywhere these two wanted.

As they pulled me to the house, I noticed someone else who I had desperately missed standing halfway up the stairs to the porch. "Mummy," I greeted her, using my nickname for her when I was a child. I walked up the stairs and engulfed her in a massive bear hug. I breathed in her signature scent of vanilla and a tiny hint of coffee. She pulled back and smiled at me. "It's about time you come home," she grouched, a smile still clear on her face. She wiped the tears from her eyes and then hustled me up the stairs. I saw that standing on the porch was the one family member I hadn't greeted yet – Ally. She looked at me with a happy expression, as if she was glad I was home, but as soon as I returned her smile, she quickly hid hers with a look of hurt and turned to walk inside. I looked at Mum for an explanation, but she just shrugged her shoulders.

Before long we were all sitting down at the kitchen table, food in bowls and dishes in front of us. I automatically reached for the closest bowl when I felt everyone staring at me. Their hands were clasped together and their heads were bowed, and I was the odd one out reaching for food. I quickly retracted my hand and took my siblings offered hands beside me (the twins insisted they sit either side of me for dinner).

Dad cleared his throat and started to pray. "Heavenly Father, I thank you for bringing our son home. We all missed him so much, and to have him here, eating with us, is such a blessing. May You bless this food and the hands that prepared it, in Your Gracious Name, Amen."

There was a chorus of 'amens' from around the table and then a fluttering of everyone reaching for the food. I sat back for a minute, observing the sweet chaos that was my family. I hadn't prayed for years, the practice was almost forgotten by me. I had almost forgotten that my family was Christian and that I used to be not that many years ago. My thoughts were interrupted as Mum offered a bowl of mashed potato from where she sat across from me. I smiled and took the bowl, scooping up spoonful on my plate.

Dinner continued with a lot of chatter, Cody telling me about how he was learning the trumpet and Caddy jumping in about her ballet classes. After a while, Mum gently told the twins to quiet down so the others could get a word in. I turned to Ally, wanting to hear what had been going on with her life, but she stayed staring at her plate.

"Ally?" Dad asked, sensing the tension and tried his best to dissolve it. "How did your test go today?"

"I think I did alright," she replied quietly, using her fork and stirring her mash on her plate.

"And have you finished those applications?" Mum questioned. Ally just nodded. I looked at her questioningly, wondering what they were talking about. Mum explained to me.

"Ally is applying to some universities."

I looked at my sister in surprise. "But you're only 16," I exclaimed.

"I'm already in grade 11," she said softly. "I skipped grade 10."

Wow. I had a smart sister. When I was her age, I was barely passing my classes.

Dinner finished a few minutes later and Mum and Ally disappeared into the kitchen, carrying the dirty dishes. They returned a moment later, Mum carrying a circular dish. When she placed it down in front of me, I realised it was her signature apple pie - my favourite dessert. Most of my friends were annoyed when I chose to have apple pie at my tenth birthday party instead of cake – but I loved it. I realised it had been at least 3 years since I had tasted my Mum's apple pie. I raised my gaze to hers and we shared a look only possible between a mother and her child – something words couldn't express. It was like she knew just what I needed – she always did.

After the pie was soon demolished, I stood up along with my mother and offered to help wash up but she would have none of it. My siblings had all disappeared to various places in the house and my Dad had gone to the living room to read his Bible like he did every night after tea.

I stifled a yawn. Maybe I should head to bed. I had been a long day and that 5-hour road trip was getting to me. I walked into the kitchen and told my mother goodnight. I heard my Dad call out 'goodnight' from the lounge room.

"I changed the sheets on your bed," Mum told me and I thanked her.

Heading down the hallway and stopping at the all too familiar doorway to my old bedroom. Sorry, my current bedroom. I took a deep breath and opened the door. Flicking on the light switch, I saw that my family had changed nothing. And I mean nothing. The posters that I had on the wall (a few of motorbikes and one of a band I like years back) were all in the same spots, my bed covers were the same (obviously washed though) and my desk was still shoved in that small corner. Everything was just like I left it all those years ago.

I didn't even reregister my bag that had been brought in from the car was beside my bed as I lied down on it and almost instantly fell asleep.


Author's Note: Please review and let me know what you think!