Somehow, in between fixing airplanes, I’m going to find the time and brainspace to finish my next novel in 2016. I’m writing it as a sequel to Raising John, because many readers wanted to know what happened to John and Robert after the last scene and because I believe there’s a whole other story to be told, hiding in the folds of the first.
I’m a little burnt out on writing about the challenges faced by a newbie airplane mechanic, so this week, I give you a first-draft preview of the novel-in-progress, which is currently titled Finding Home.
Phoenix, Arizona – April, 2012
… John sat back down on the sofa and flipped the album open. On the first page there was a picture of his mom holding him over her head and looking up at him, smiling into his face, while he smiled toothlessly back at her. He would never admit this to any of his friends, even Nate, but this was his favorite picture in the whole world. He and his mom both looked so happy.
He kept flipping through. There were a few more pictures of his mom with him, including the one of them together in the hospital, right after he was born. He flipped past the pictures of his mom before he was born. He would go back and look at those, but right now he didn’t want to be that sad.
Towards the middle of the album there were pictures of him as he got older. There was one of him with his Grammy that must have been taken very soon after he came to live with her – he was dressed in a ridiculous sailor suit, sitting on Grammy’s lap. It looked like a studio picture. He thought about that for a minute. Did she go out and buy clothes for him when he came to live with her after his mom died? Did she get the pictures taken so she could feel more like they were a family?
He kept flipping – him with a bat on his shoulder at Little League. On top of the slide at the park. At his sixth grade graduation. With his soccer team at the awards banquet. Grammy sure loved to take pictures.
After he finished looking at the pictures of him and Grammy he flipped back to look at the pictures Grammy took of his mom when she was younger. He looked for a long time at the picture of her with Aunt Kate. It was the day they each left for college. His mom looked so young, but then again so did Aunt Kate. Not much older than he was now, in fact.
His coffee was getting cold. He stood up and, grabbing his cup, went into the kitchen for a refill. Then when he got back out to the living room he pulled out one of the other albums from the bookshelf. This was one he had put together himself. It was pictures of his mom from grad school. He had found them in the attic last year, one day when he stayed home from school sick, after he moved back in with Grammy from Nate’s place. The day he found them he couldn’t stop looking at them. This was his mom, during her short life as an adult.
After he found them he asked Grammy if he could make them into an album. She had gotten him a new photo album at the craft store and he spent many evenings after his homework was done, fitting the pictures into the pages, trying to figure out the right order, stopping from time to time to just stare, trying to see himself in her; wondering what her life had been like in those last few years she had on earth.