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Growing Pains

By MaxCale

Romance

Goodbye Summer

Amy and Ricky were sitting on the floor playing with John and laughing with him. It was Labor Day and they had decided to spend their official last day of summer break alone as a family. John crawled over to his mother holding onto his favorite teddy bear and cuddled up next to her as he began making his bear dance around; Amy leaned forward and kissed the top of his head before sighing.

"What is it?" Ricky asked.

"I'm gonna miss spending so much time with him, like I get to do in the summer by working at the nursery all day." Her eyes became sad for a moment.

"I know. Me too." They shared a smile before returning their focus to their toddler. At the Bowman residence Grant was helping Grace clean up the kitchen, having joined the Bowmans for dinner. Grace noticed that Grant was lost in thought.

"What's on your mind?" she asked as she loaded several more plates into the dishwasher. Grant snapped back to reality at her question.

"Huh?" Grace chuckled.

"I asked what's on your mind. You seem a little out of it." Grant shrugged as he placed two empty serving bowls on the counter next to her.

"I've just been thinking about Reverend Stone's sermon Sunday night."

"Oh? What about it?" she asked curiously, loading the dirty silverware.

"I know he was mainly preaching to encourage the teens since school starts Tuesday, but it made me think about next year."

"Why next year?" she asked confused.

"Think about it. We're gonna graduate next year which means we're running out of time to figure out what kind of people we wanna be once we're at college and out on our own. I mean, we're obviously too young to have all the answers but we should start thinking this year about what path we wanna take next year, you know what I mean?" Grace nodded with understanding.

"I know what you mean. During the latter part of his sermon I was thinking about what college will be like. I know after college I'll be going to med school but I hadn't really thought much about everything in between, like how I can be a light at college, away from family and friends. I mean, I've never been on my own before, even at med camp." Grant nodded in agreement as he began putting the containers of leftover food into the fridge.

"I know. Reverend Stone encouraged us to enjoy being teenagers but the future's not that far away," he said worriedly. Grace rinsed and dried her hands before turning towards Grant and kissing his cheek.

"All we can do is pray, plan our best for the future and take life one day at a time," she told him with a smile. Grant smiled back before leaning in and kissing her lips. At the Cooperstein residence Madison and Justin were sitting on the couch making out. They were oblivious to Madison's father as he walked past the living room towards the kitchen, shaking his head. It wasn't that he disliked Justin, he just wasn't used to seeing his daughter lip-locking with a boy. Yes, he knew his little girl was old enough to date and dating involved PDA, however, he'd rather not have to see it. Then again, he preferred they make out in the living room where he could keep an eye on them instead of being up in her bedroom. At the Boykewich residence, Ben was double checking that he'd packed everything he'd need for school the next morning. He was also worrying about the future but for a different reason: in almost four months he was going to become a father. While he had some experience caring for a newborn thanks to the time he'd spent helping Amy care for John, the little girl that was about to enter the world was all his. This little girl would he his daughter. He would be responsible for making sure she grew up to be a decent human being and that responsibility was weighing on him heavily. At the Juergens residence Ashley was lying on her bed on her back, her head hanging over the side, and she was admiring her driver's permit. Griffin was seated on the floor next to her bed chuckling.

"You'd think it was about to disappear the way you keep staring at that thing." Ashley tipped her head further back so she could see him better and stuck out her tongue. She rolled over and propped herself up on her elbows.

"This thing means I'm one step closer to freedom. No more needing my parents or Amy to drop me off anytime I wanna go somewhere." Griffin snorted.

"Since when do you wanna go anywhere, other than the movies or the coffee shop? Places we can easily walk to from here by the way," he informed her. Ashley rolled her eyes and turned over so she was lying on her back again.

"Well maybe I'll wanna go somewhere once I can drive there myself," she said nonchalantly, causing Griffin to laugh.

"Ok," he said sarcastically. "Well why you figure out where you wanna go after you get your license, I'm gonna get ready for bed." Griffin unzipped his overnight bag and dug around for his pajamas and toothpaste. Once he went into the house Ashley got up from her bed with a smile as she dug out her own pajamas from her dresser. It was nice to have a best friend she could be herself with. She was also glad that Griffin had her parents' blessing to sleepover whenever he wanted and the two had decided a sleepover would be a good way to spend their last day of freedom. Next door at the Enriquez household Adrian headed from her bedroom to the bathroom to pee, again. I can't wait 'til this little chica's outta me. Peeing so much is exhausting she thought wearily. Her weariness soon turned to excitement as she thought about seeing her daughter's face for the first time in just a few short months. Across town at the Treacy residence, Jesse and Lauren were standing on the front porch, having just returned from a typical teenage dinner and a movie kind of date, sharing a goodnight kiss.

"I'll see you at school tomorrow," Jesse told her with a smile.

"See you tomorrow," Lauren said with a smile of her own. "'Night, Jesse."

"'Night, Lauren." He gave her a quick peck on the lips and then waited for her to go inside before turning around and heading back to his car to head home. It's been a great couple of weeks he thought cheerfully as he started his car and backed out of Lauren's driveway. I just hope we don't get into any trouble and end up separated again. It's my senior year and I'd like to end it on a high note he thought to himself with a rueful smirk as he headed home. Over at Alice's house Henry was slouched on the couch pouting.

"Do we really have to go back to school tomorrow?" he asked with a whine. Alice rolled her eyes and glared at him with slight irritation.

"Oh don't be such a baby. High school won't last forever," she told him before popping some popcorn in her mouth and then turning her attention back to the movie they were watching. Henry frowned and then ate a handful of popcorn as well.

"Summer goes by too fast," he grumbled, causing Alice to chuckle.

"Don't worry. The school year will be over before you know it. But for that to happen it's gotta start," she stated, eating another handful of popcorn. Henry nodded glumly and then did likewise.

"Let's just hope this year's not as crazy as the last one." Alice nodded in agreement and they continued watching their movie in silence.

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