Grice Williams - That Was Then Part 01

Updated on January 22, 2019
DWDavisRSL profile image

DW, an Army vet, has published 7 novels. His day job is teaching elementary school. In his spare time, he camps with his wife of 30+ years.

Grice dreams of a girl waiting for him by the sea.
Grice dreams of a girl waiting for him by the sea. | Source
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Getting Up in the Morning

My clock radio started playing at precisely 6:45 a.m. The song was not one I liked. In fact, it was one I hated. Why anyone would enjoy a song that celebrates killing a guy named Earl, even if he was a wife beater, is beyond me.

The reason my alarm went off was to wake me up for my first day of sixth grade. I hoped waking up to crappy music wasn’t a sign of things to come.

I was about to hit the snooze bar when a loud pounding shook my door.

“Grice, are you up? You don’t want to be late for your first day of school, do you?”

My mother never slept past sunup. For a long time, I believed my father when he said my mother was the person who woke up the sun.

I groaned and drew my hand back from the snooze bar.

“I’m up, Mom.”

“Your breakfast is ready. Don’t take too long getting dressed.”

Getting Dressed in the Morning

Getting dressed didn’t take long. I took my shower the night before after swimming laps in the pool. Getting to swim in the Olympic sized indoor pool was one of the perks of being the resort manager’s son.

My father had managed the Coastal Towers Resort on Buzby Beach since before I was born. I’d grown up in the three-bedroom bungalow on the resort the company made the manager live in as one of the conditions of his job. The upside of living right on the resort property was living at the beach. The downside was my dad never really had any time off. He’d get calls all the time, day or night.

Dressed in a pair of khaki shorts and a red polo shirt with my school's crest sewn on the left front, and wearing a pair of brown boat shoes, I headed off for breakfast.

The red polo shirt and khaki shorts were my school’s summer uniform. When the weather got colder, we would wear khaki pants, a long-sleeved version of the polo shirt and there were a uniform jacket and hoodie. Jesse A. Helms, Jr. Middle School was the only middle school in the district that required its students to wear uniforms. I didn’t like the requirement, but it made getting dressed in the morning easier.

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Eating Breakfast in the Morning

Your breakfast is on the table,” my mother called out from her office as I walked past on my way to the kitchen. My mother’s office was the bungalow’s third bedroom. My mom was a freelance writer. She'd published lots of articles and stories in magazines and newspapers. She was also writing a book. The nice thing about my mom working at home was she set her own hours and was always able to come to whatever school, Scout, or sports event I was doing; especially since my dad hardly ever could.

“Thanks, Mom,” I said over my shoulder. When I got to the kitchen, my regular school day breakfast was waiting for me - a bowl of corn flakes, a plain toasted bagel with cream cheese, a glass of grape juice, and a glass of milk, courtesy of the breakfast buffet at the resort. I drank the juice and poured the milk on my cereal.

My mom came into the kitchen just as I finished the last bite of my bagel. “Are you all set for school, Grice?”

I finished chewing and swallowing the last bite of bagel before I answered. If I hadn’t, I would have gotten a lecture on talking with my mouth full. My mom hated it when people did that.

“Yes, ma’am,” I replied after swallowing. I pointed to my backpack. “Everything on the supply list is in my book bag.”

My mother tousled what little hair I had. I liked it short. Easier to take care of that way.

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Prepared for the First Day of School

“Are you nervous about your first day of middle school?”

I shrugged, which earned me a frown. “A little, but all my friends from fifth grade are going to be there, and all the sixth grade is on one hall.”

Glancing at the clock on the microwave over the stove, my mom said, “You’d better get going then. You don’t want to miss the bus.”

She started picking my breakfast things up off the table as I stood up. I grabbed my backpack and started toward the door.

My mother set the bowl and glasses in the sink. She always rinsed them before taking them back to the resort kitchen to be washed. “Just one minute, young man. Don’t think you’re going to get out of here that easily. I need my first day of school picture and a hug.”

The hug before I left for school was a daily requirement; it had been since kindergarten. The first day of school picture was an annual requirement. Not only did it wind up in an album she was making for me, but it also went on her blog. My mom had over ten thousand followers on her blog with more joining all the time.

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The First Day of School Photographs

The first day of school picture always turned into a photo shoot. My mom took a picture of me going out the door. Then she’d go outside and make me do it again, so she could get a picture of me coming out the door. Following that, she’d go out to the road to get a picture of me walking to the bus stop before going back to the bungalow to get a picture of me at the bus stop.

I’d learned not to be annoyed about all my mother’s picture taking. My father sat me down after supper after the first day of third grade when I’d complained about it all.

“You’ll understand when you’re older, Grice,” he’d told me. “You don’t realize how fast you’re growing up. Your mother wants these pictures to remind her of what you were like as a kid after you grow up and move out on your own. It’s one of her ways of showing how much she loves you.”

My mother’s picture taking never bothered me after that.

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