Book 1: Gray's Story
I was born on February twentieth in the year 2000 at 3:58 AM. My brother Weston was 10, my sister Lisa was 4, and my other sister Mary was 3. My parents told me that everyone was overjoyed that day, even though my sisters were disappointed that I wasn’t a girl.
My parents also told me that I started walking earlier than all of my siblings. As soon as I was mobile, I never stopped going. As soon as I could talk, I never stopped talking. My sisters liked to dress me up like I was one of their dolls, but I stopped letting them do that when I was 3 and my first little sister Kiara was born.
Holding her is my earliest memory. She just seemed so tiny, and I asked why she had no teeth. My mom always tells that story to her girl friends and they always laugh and say, “Thank God she didn’t have teeth.” I don’t see what would be so bad about that, because Kiara cried a lot more while she was teething.
My brother Weston was so excited to have a little brother to play with, but I was about 4 years old by the time I showed any interest in playing catch with him, and it didn’t take long for him to find out I was useless at it. With that, he gave up on me. Weston got really involved in high school and made a lot of friends. All he ever talked about was DECA, which has something to do with business and marketing.
Before I made it to kindergarten, my next sister Madelyn, or Mady, was born. Because Weston ignored me and Lisa and Mary hated me for not letting them dress me up and Kiara was kind of annoying now that she was older, I wasn’t very excited. I didn’t want to hold her because that meant I was accepting that she was my sister.
That summer we went to Chicago as a family. It was loud and busy and overwhelming. It smelled awful and I kept getting yelled at by everyone except my little sisters for accidentally walking too close to the street or plugging my nose and covering my ears, which was somehow ‘rude.’
I hated cities. When we got back to our little town, Maryville, Missouri, I really appreciated the trees and the bugs and the not-hearing-and-smelling-cars-everywhere. I could do that at home because we lived in Dad’s family home, and we had 40 acres of land. Dad and Weston kept two trails mowed: one in the front of the house by the pond, and one behind the house. We had one real neighbor, and even though our houses were separated by trees, our gravel driveways were connected at the beginning.
Living in Dad’s family home meant that we lived with Dad’s half-brother, our uncle Jeremy. He lived with us because his wife died and he had trouble living on his own. We also lived with Dad’s dad and his step-mom, Marie, who was Uncle Jeremy’s mom. Grandpa told me that it wasn’t them living with us, but us living with them, because it was still my grandparents’ house. He always seemed mad when he said it, but he was always smiling when we played with him and talked to him, so I don’t think he really minded that we lived in his house.
Sometimes Grandma and Grandpa came out to the trail with me and took walks. They always asked me how I was because I played with them less than my sisters did.
The week before kindergarten, I helped Mom look for school supplies for me. She bought me new markers and a lot of other cool stuff. I even got a new shirt and pants that weren’t Weston’s first. That night, Grandma and Grandpa took a walk with me.
“Are you excited about kindergarten?” Grandma asked.
“Yes,” I said, slowing down so I could walk closer to them and talk.
“Why are you excited?”
“Because then I can play with boys instead of my sisters.”
“Gray,” Grandma scolded. “Your sisters are perfectly nice.”
Grandpa grunted. “The boy needs more boys in his life. Leave him be.”
“I’m going to make my first friends,” I said.
“I’m sure you will, sweetie,” Grandma said.