I couldn’t believe the mess I had come back to.
Oh, sorry. I should probably introduce myself properly. I’m Alton Waverunner. You’re probably used to reading this family journal from my mom’s perspective. She was the one who started this journal and kept updating it throughout all our childhoods, but now that I’m an adult and home from boarding school, she gave that task to me to take over. I’m honoured, actually. I’ll be taking over the family journal from here on out and you’ll be reading everything from a fresh perspective.
“So? Are you happy to be back home?” my little sister, Aqua, asked me at the table while we were eating. Dad had asked me the same question and I didn’t know what to tell him. How could I tell them that the one thing I dreaded at Smuggsworth Prep School was having to come back here after graduation? I couldn’t tell them that, not when they obviously missed me so much. I love my family. I don’t want to hurt them, but this place is a disaster thanks to Mom having way more kids than she could support.
I sighed and put down my spoon. “Yes and no, I guess,” I admitted to her. My sisters were easier to talk to than Mom and Dad. I spent my childhood before boarding school looking after the pair of them. Wade, too, but he’s not here and I barely know Lake and Brook, not that I could have a conversation with a couple of toddlers, anyway.
“Why no?” Aqua asked me with a hurt frown and I winced.
“I was at boarding school for the past six years where things made sense and I was expected to take on responsibilities that a kid’s supposed to take on, not the responsibility of looking after a bunch of little siblings Mom couldn’t take care of. I had friends there. I liked being there. Then I come back home to… well, this again. There’s two new babies in the house and a dog and Mom’s pregnant again! She’s almost fifty years old! How can she be pregnant again?!” I exploded.
“Yeah…” Aqua admitted, taking a bite of her toast. “It is pretty crazy here, but… I don’t know, I’m just kind of used to it. Mom has so many kids that it doesn’t really faze me when she gets pregnant now,” she shrugged.
She didn’t get it. She was just a teenager. My sisters are so talented. They could be big stars singing in packed stadiums somewhere, but they’re going nowhere in this house. They’re complacent with being nobodies because no one had ever told them they could dream bigger. It’s sad. I just want the best for them. I want the best for all of them. I felt like it was my job to turn this family around and get rid of the bad local stigma attached to the name Waverunner. We’d have money and a nice house and the girls would get music agents and start selling out shows like they’d always dreamed of. I’d be a big CEO of some major business corporation. Wade would join the armed forces and the younger ones… well they could do whatever they wanted to do with their lives without worrying about having to hold together a giant, messed-up family like I did.
I had just the plan to make that dream of mine a reality. We all just needed a fresh start. Once I had some money in my pocket and Wade came home and started contributing to the household’s funds, I’d be able to put my plan into action. I decided I needed to work harder than ever to pull this family back to its feet again, so the first thing I did after getting a job as a Coffee Courier was pay a visit to my new boss, Mr. Langerak. I wasn’t going to settle for a measly entry-level position serving the higher ups coffee! Not with my top-quality education! It was time to get on the boss’ good side and make some useful connections.
“Ah, you’re the office newbie, aren’t you? Uhhh… Aiden, was it?” Mr. Langerak greeted me when I showed up on his doorstep.
“Alton, sir. Alton Waverunner,” I corrected him as politely as I could. I’d forgotten how nervous I tended to get around strangers. I never did quite get over what happened the last time a stranger came knocking. I still have nightmares about Mom being tasered and the police dragging me away while I kicked and screamed and cried for her.
“Right, right! Well, come on in, son,” he told me, letting me in his home. That was a home I pictured myself living in one day. Modern, luxurious. It was the home I dreamed of my family living in.
I think I made a good impression on Mr. Langerak, despite my shyness. Smuggsworth taught me how to overcome those kinds of obstacles to succeed in life. Sending me there was the best thing my parents could have ever done for me. I couldn’t imagine how I would have turned out without such a high-quality education to teach me to strive for the best of life. With any luck, I’d be able to provide that for my family. It was my duty.
* * *
A tall, dark-haired figure clad in handsome dark blue graduation robes stepped out of the cab and took a look around the property he had just walked onto. Not much had changed. Still the same old boxy brick building with nothing but an old tree fort that looked like no one had used it in years for yard decoration. Sea Gods, how he missed those days of playing with his brother in that fort. He’d left home a bad-tempered rebellious kid and now he was returning to his childhood home as a disciplined, upstanding young man.
Wade crept inside the house, not wanting to wake anyone up. It was the middle of the night, after all. Right away, he saw that not everything had stayed the same. A giant of a dog with a sparkly pink collar was snoozing on the couch like she owned the place. That must be Vixen. He’d been told about her on the phone, but hadn’t she been just a puppy when they got her? He didn’t want to wake the dog up in case she thought he was a burglar and attacked him, so he tip-toed upstairs where his old bedroom with Alton used to be… only to find that it was now a nursery for two little toddlers. His little brother and sister whom he had yet to meet properly. Where did he and Alton sleep, then?
He opened bedroom doors, peering inside. Nope. The girls’ bedroom was still theirs. Only the decor had changed as they’d gotten older. Oh, there it was. His room was now in their parents’ old bedroom. Wade grinned when he saw his big brother sleeping soundly in his bed. He’d have to catch up with him tomorrow. For now, he was exhausted and just wanted his own bed.
Climbing into the bed next to his brother’s, Wade gave a happy, content sigh. Home at last.
* * *