Ian wakes up one morning feeling like he’s been hit by a big truck and then run over a few times. A trip to the clinic confirms that he has the flu.
One day, Cynthia sees a listing the Pine Hollow Times for an old flower arranging station for sale. “Cheap!” the ad proclaims. “Amazing deal! Hardly used!”
She’s been looking for something to occupy her time while Violet is in school–none of the job listings in the newspaper were even the least bit appealing for someone who doesn’t like to work too much–so on a whim she calls the number listed in the ad. And that afternoon, after having bribed her upstairs neighbor Clarence to help her carry the giant thing up the stairs to her floor, Cynthia sets out to work on her very first flower arrangement.
Fall 2016, Pine Hollow Elementary School
Staff: Zane Smith is 34; Carol Smith is 31; Xander Gates is 27; Anna Sutton is 21
Students: Lucas Craig is 9; Baine Austin is 8; Kat Gates, Violet Craig, and Heather Briggs are 7; Charlotte Craig, Lily Gates-Watson, Ethan Smith, and Adam Smith are 6; Caleb Gates, Phoebe Gates, Skylar McCarthy, Jakob Briggs, John Picaso, and Max Picaso are 5; Dee Smith is 4
Zane looks at Dee as they head toward the school for the first day of the new school year. She’s starting preschool this year. Zane can vividly remember the day she joined their family and he wonders how those years passed so quickly and led to this little girl in front of him instead of the baby he held.
Summer 2016: Blake Lloyd is 26, Silvia Howell is 25
He does feel bad about what he did. He still doesn’t know how it happened…or why he keeps thinking about other women every time his mind wanders.
Dr. Picaso is telling another doctor about a recent “housecall” he made to some woman in town. Blake tries to ignore the conversation, but the words keep filtering into his head. Everyone knows what Picaso is–arrogant, privileged, and a womanizer. He wanted to be a general–he tells everyone this fact several times a week–but his father, a well-known surgeon, forced him into medicine.
Summer 2016: Zane and Belinda Smith are 33, Sam and Lexi are 11, Dee is 3, and Emily is 1
The Smith house is in a constant state of motion, mess, and stress. Belinda tries to get in a workout every now and then to get back to her pre-pregnancy shape, but then either Dee or Emily or often both of them at the same time will get into something messy and need a bath, or else a bottle or a nap or a toy that they can’t find and must have right this second.