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Warning – if you haven’t read Raising John yet, this preview contains spoilers!!
Phoenix, Arizona – April, 2012
When John woke up the house was quiet. After he brushed his teeth he ambled into the kitchen. The coffee pot was turned off and the carafe was empty. He went to the front of the house and looked out at the driveway. Gram’s car was gone. She must have been out running errands, or maybe having coffee with her best friend Teri. He stretched his arms up over his head and yawned broadly, feeling his muscles come to life.
He started a new pot of coffee and poured some cereal for breakfast. After he had read the comics and the interesting parts of the newspaper it was only about 11 o’clock. He wondered when Grammy would be home. He liked having the house to himself, kind of, but it felt weird when the day stretched out too long.
He took his coffee cup and wandered into the living room. He was about to click on the TV when he noticed that one of the photo albums was sticking out of the bookshelf. Hmmm … maybe Grammy had been looking at it.
He heaved himself off the sofa and plucked it off the shelf. It was his favorite album – the one from when he was a baby and his mom was still alive. There were others, but after last spring, when the whole drama with his Gramps went down, Grammy had put some of them away, and redid the others. She took out the pictures of him and Gramps, but she told him that she was just putting them away and they would always be there for him if he wanted to look at them.
Yeah, fat chance he was going to want to look at pictures of Gramps. What kid would want to look at pictures of the guy who made him an orphan? Aunt Teri said that maybe he should consider that after the accident, not only had Gramps had paid his debt to society, but he had also stopped drinking. She also reminded him that even though Gramps had caused the accident that killed his mom, he had also lost his only daughter. Aunt Teri thought Gramps had suffered enough.
John disagreed. He didn’t think that made up for what had been done to him. Whatever, the photos were out of his way and that was what mattered to him. He was pretty sure he would never speak to Gramps again, but Teri and Grammy sometimes told him that he should never say never.
He sat back down on the sofa and flipped the album open. On the first page there was a picture of his mom holding him up 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 loved to take pictures, that was for sure.
After he finished looking at the pictures of him and Grammy he flipped back to look at the pictures of his mom when she was younger. They went up until she was in high school. He looked for a long time at the picture of her with her best friend, 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 the pictures 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.