He stared at the hour glass for what seemed much longer than a minute. It's funny how tiny grains of sand can perfectly fall to measure a space in time. Finally, the last few grains remained. John didn't know why he expected them to fall away slower than the rest of them, but that was precisely the reason he was gazing at the hour glass in the first place. Resting his entire chin on the glass table top of his desk, he could only imagine what that might look like from below. What did it matter anyway? He looked through the glass and saw his orange Persian cat, Pepsi. She never curled up like cute cats did but rather rolled on her back and liked to keep all four paws in the air. John poked her with his foot. She simply blinked back at him.
"Stop staring at my chin," John said aloud.
Pepsi rolled back and forth several times before picking a side to actually get up on and decided to trot out of John's room and slipped down the stairs. John pushed his glasses back up onto his nose and absorbed his surroundings.
This wasn't home. It was, but it wasn't.
It wasn't to John. Yes, his bed was still the same bed, his mirror still had the same sticky tape marks from middle school, and the etchings that he and Claire Ingridson carved still remained just inside his closet. When John was nine and Claire was seven, John's family planned to move to Minnesota. Claire told John about a movie where a little French orphan's schoolhouse was up for sale. To stop people from wanting to buy it, the little girl would sabotage the open house. John knew she was talking about Madeline, but he would never tell her that he watched a girl's TV show. It was only a couple times anyway. That's when Claire thought of carving their names into the wood of John's house. They found an old nail and began their woodwork. When they finished, they felt like they had put a protection spell over the house. It read, "John Hatcher and Claire Ingridson live here." Claire didn't really live there though. She lived behind John's backyard, on the street behind John's house. Like magic, in two weeks time, John's parents told him they weren't moving anymore. John and Claire felt victorious. It spell worked. In one years time, however, Claire moved away. John regretted not etching their names into Claire's closet. To be honest, he didn't think about Claire too much anymore. Only when he thought about the etchings in the closet did she come back to him. The last update John heard of Claire was that she got into some great university but was going through a rough time. He didn't think to ask what it was because it didn't matter to him. She was probably fine.
John snapped out of his thoughts when he heard his mom come up the stairs.
"Can you... help me... get... something?" said a struggling raspy voice. John's mom had the most distinct voice out of all his friends. She wasn't a smoker, but she certainly enjoyed a drink or two. Gin and tonic on Tuesdays, Mojito's on Thursdays, Sex on the Beach on Saturdays, and quite a large variety of canned and bottled beers throughout rest of the week.
She sounded like she was struggling with too many things at the moment. Typical mom. John hopped up and opened the door to find an amusing sight.
John's mom, Terry, was hidden behind a stack of four large plastic containers full of wrapping paper and crafting supplies. She was holding the bottom container and barely balancing the other three against the rest of her upper body. He quickly grabbed the top three containers and set them on the ground.
"What are you using all of this for?" he asked, crinkling his nose.
"It's for Melinda's baby shower," she said as she set down her container. She slowly clapped her hands together like there was dust on them.
God. Baby showers, John thought to himself. John attended two baby showers before in his lifetime. One for his younger sister, Jeanie, who was five years younger than John, and one for a family friend. John liked babies and understood the point and purpose of baby showers, but there was something about large social gatherings where all of the people gossiped about the person who was throwing the party in the first place.
"Oh. Is it a boy a girl?" John tried to act like he cared about Melinda's baby shower.
"You know, that's a good question," she crinkled her nose, then sighed. "I can't ask. She already told me and I just can't remember. The baby's name is Alex. Of course it's Alex," she laughed.
"Just get the kid something that's Winnie the Pooh. Every kid, boy or girl, likes Winnie the Pooh."
"That's a good idea. I'll do that then. Stick with yellow wrapping paper."
John spent the next few minutes helping his mom make choices between several palettes of tissue paper and various bags from previous birthdays and holidays. Right as he was about to choose the Peanut's Gang and Snoopy bag over the green polka dot bag, John saw Pepsi bolt from the room down the hall. He saw his mom's smile fade away as she turned around. That's when John got the sinking feeling in his stomach. That was why John didn't feel quite at home in his own house.
Someone else lived there.