'Yikes, this stuff up here must be like a thousand years old' 15 year old Gordon Tracy complained to his brother Alan as he brushed away a cobweb from his jeans.

'Yep' 14 year old Alan replied, 'I'm not gonna argue with you there.'

The two youngest Tracys, had been asked that morning by their father to clean out the attic for him. Seeing as it was school holidays and they were going to get paid for it, Gordon and Alan hadn't complained.

But suddenly Gordon was beginning to realise why Virgil and John had seemed so reluctant to do it when they'd been asked. He sighed in annoyance and brushed a spider from the sleeve of his 'Powerboat 2016' t-shirt, it became obvious to him why Virgil didn't want to come in the attic. It was well- known in the Tracy Family that Virgil was terrified of spiders, he had managed to keep up the pretence that he just found them annoying until only last year when the 6'1, then 18 year old, had let out a very 'girlish' scream and jumped into bed with the then 17 year old John, when a spider (Virgil swore was the size of a dog) crawled up his bedcover. Of course if Virgil hadn't screamed so loudly, no-one would have discovered his embarrassing secret, as John was always the guy you could rely on to keep things quiet. However unfortunately for Virgil and fortunately for his brothers, he woke up the whole house and then had to explain why he had screamed, this had resulted in months of teasing and numerous, 'fake spider' gags from Gordon and Alan, the notorious pranksters of the family.

That explained Virgil's aversion to the attic, but what was John's reason? Gordon wondered to himself.

'Hey look at this' Alan's voice broke into his thoughts and Gordon spun to find his younger brother sporting a rather-worryingly, fetching , brown wig.

'Get it off you dumb-ass!' Gordon said with a laugh. Alan could always and had always been the one to make him laugh, their was barely a year between them, so the two were very close.

Alan grinned and pulled the wig off as Gordon began attempting to gather together empty, dusty, bug-infested boxes. As the pile became higher Gordon tugged on a box that he noticed was full of something, too late for him to stop it falling though and the box toppled onto the floor spilling its contents onto the dusty wooden floor-boards of the attic.

'Well Done Gordy.' Alan said sarcastically, 'we're supposed to be finishing this job, not creating new ones.'

'Shut it Al.' Gordon answered, as he stared at the objects in the box, at one in particular, he crouched down, reached out and picked it up.

Alan, sensing that his brother was being far too serious, walked over to see what Gordon had found.

'Oh' he said softly as he caught sight of the photograph Gordon was holding.

It was their mother, Lucille was dressed in a beautiful blue dress, her brown hair was pulled into a French braid, she was smiling serenely at the camera, and she looked stunning.

'Lucy' Gordon read turning the photograph over to read the inscription, 'at the seaside, 1995'

Alan was unnaturally quiet, 'that was even before Scott was born' he said softly.

'Yep' Gordon replied.

Alan looked at his brother, his face serious and wistful, 'Do you remember anything about her?' he asked Gordon.

'Nope' Gordon replied, 'sometimes I can close my eyes really hard and I can almost picture her, you know?' he said to his brother, 'but I never quite do it.'

'We were too young I guess' Alan nodded sombrely , 'I mean 2 and 3 is hardly a good age to remember things.'

'No' Gordon replied with a sigh 'I suppose it's not.'

Alan glanced at the other contents of the box, they all seemed to be belongings of his mothers. 'What should we do with these?' he said to Gordon. 'We don't want to upset Dad by taking them all down.'

'Dad wont be back for hours yet' his brother replied, 'and besides I think we're entitled to see them don't you?'

Alan gulped but nodded, alarmed at yet another display of Gordon's defiance when it came to his father. His brother constantly did what he wanted, although Alan was secretly in awe of his brother's 'I answer to no-one' attitude. He knew that it would end up getting them both into trouble.

'Come on then help me get this downstairs' Gordon ordered , 'then we can have a proper look.'

Alan took one end of the box while Gordon took the other and they hauled it down the steps into their lounge. They placed it onto the large table in their dining room and then they each took an item from the box.

'Hey look what I've got!' Alan announced with a giggle, 'it's Scott's baby book.'

Gordon grinned and then peered over as his brother opened the blue book with a duck on the front. There on the first page was a picture of a very grumpy-looking Scott, according to the inscription at 3 weeks old.

Alan and Gordon giggled uncontrollably, 'he hasn't changed much in 21 years has he?' Gordon announced.

'Who hasn't?' came the grumpy baby's voice from the doorway to the dining- room.

'Um Scott.uh...' Alan jumped, looking guiltily at Gordon, who looked decidedly unaffected by their eldest brother's untimely arrival.

'Who hasn't changed?' Scott repeated 'and what are you two giggling at?'

He walked over and saw what Alan held in his hands. At first his face grew sad, and then he said softly,

'where did you guys get this?'

'In the attic' Gordon said and then as if anticipating a lecture, 'and we only got them down cos' we knew dad wasn't here.'

'hey, it's ok guys' Scott replied smiling at them, 'these shouldn't be hidden away up there, you guys deserve to know about what we were all like as kids, with mom around.'

Alan and Gordon smiled at each other. They loved Scott a lot, he had always been the one they turned to if there was trouble, dad always lectured them, Virgil and John were good, but Scott was the eldest and therefore the boss in their eyes, so they knew if they had Scott on their side it would be ok. He was the one they turned to when they scraped their knees, or got into a fight at school, or couldn't turn to dad. Virgil as good to talk to about their mother, he was always open and honest about that, he was also very sensitive. John was the one they turned to if they needed someone to listen, John was an excellent listener and advice-giver, surprisingly regarding women. John's thoughtfulness and classic blond, blue-eyed good looks, made him irresistible to women, a fact that none of his brothers could understand.

'Now...' Scott muttered sitting down beside them, 'which one of you said I hadn't changed, cos' you're gonna get it.'

Gordon, realising he had to divert attention from Scott's threat of revenge, quickly turned to his book, 'Look!' he exclaimed, 'I've got John's.'

It did the trick, Scott leaned across the table to see John's book, 'awwww' Scott cooed as Gordon and Alan rolled their eyes, 'isn't he sweet?'

He spun the book around to reveal a picture of John dressed as a bright, pink bunny, 'I remember that it was halloween' Scott said smirking, 'John must have been about two'.

Alan and Gordon burst into laughter, this would be enough to tease their middle brother for at least a few months.

Just as they calmed themselves down, in walked the object of their laughter, followed by Virgil. The two were sweaty and it was obvious that they'd been to the gymnasium, competing again. With just 11 months separating them, Virgil and John were constantly competing with each other, a game of Monopoly between the two, had been known to go on for over a year, with neither losing and both having to agree to a draw.

As Gordon, Alan and Scott saw John they began giggling again, 'Hey John.' Alan grinned evily 'where's your bunny-suit?'

Gordon and Scott doubled up with laughter again, as Virgil and John looked at each other confused.

'Huh?' John answered.

'What have we missed?' Virgil asked.

The two walked over towards their brothers and John reached out to take his book from Gordon. Instead of laughing, he frowned, and muttered, 'where did you get these?'

'The attic' Alan replied.

The others fell silent as John sat down slowly, his face unreadable.

'John....' Scott said gently, 'You Ok?'

John looked up then, and nodded, 'Yeah I guess.' He replied softly, 'it's just, it just reminds me of her you know.'

Scott and Virgil nodded, understanding. Alan and Gordon exchanged a look, they didn't remember anything.

'Tell us about her?' Gordon asked his elder brothers.

They all turned in surprise to the two youngest, 'Of course' John replied 'Of course we will.'

Virgil dug his hand into the box and found his baby book, 'here's mine' he said but then he emitted a loud shriek. 'AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!' He cried and dropped the book to the floor.

His brothers jumped as he yelled and they all turned to stare at him, 'Whoa' Virgil said running behind Scott's chair, 'that one really was the size of a dog.'

The others giggled as Virgil's face turned red, and they spent the remainder of the afternoon talking about memories of their mother and when they were all younger.

And they all learnt some valuable lessons.

Scott learnt you were never too old to spend an afternoon with your little brothers.

Virgil learnt that there were more dog-sized spiders in the world than he thought there were.

John learnt to let his memories start to heal his grief.

And Alan and Gordon learnt that their mother liked brownies, daytime soaps, the colour yellow and surprises. And that afternoon they learnt the best lesson of their lives, that they may not have known their mother, but she had known them and they got a lot of comfort out of that.

The Tracys didn't just clean out their attic that day, they cleaned out their hearts, until they all felt better about their mother.

That night when Jeff returned from work, he frowned as he pulled off his tie, today had been a particularly tense day. But as he pulled his pyjamas on he caught sight of something, it was the photograph of Lucille, smiling up at him from his dresser. He smiled to himself as he looked at her laughing face, he didn't know how or why it had got there, but he thanked god.

'Thankyou Lucy' he whispered softly, thanking his wife for her brilliant timing , 'I really needed that.'