Here is an excerpt from the book When Glass Shatters by J.P. Grider.
Lorraine woke up with the same thing on her mind as when she went to sleep—was Noah flirting with her? She didn’t get it. Maybe she misunderstood his comments. He probably just wanted to know if she’d slept on his sheets so he could lie on top of the comforter. Maybe the thought of sleeping on sheets she’d laid on was gross. Besides, Lorraine should have been thinking about her mother. Not Noah.
Today’s plan was to pick out a last outfit for her mother to wear. Mimi gave Norah the option to pick out Brick’s suit, but Norah declined, so when Mimi ran into Noah, she would ask him. He hadn’t resurfaced from his apartment, though, and now Mimi was already at the funeral home making arrangements for tomorrow’s service.
When Lorraine made her final decision—a mint-green silk blouse, a long, pale-grey, belted pleated skirt, and black pointed-toe suede slingback flats—she spread it out on her mother’s bed and snapped a picture of it. She didn’t know why she took the picture, but she did. Then she went downstairs to make a cup of tea. While the kettle warmed up, she pulled up the picture. This is what she’d remember her mother in forever. Was it good enough? Would her mother approve? Before she could finish her thoughts, the back door opened.
Noah nodded, then searched the kitchen. “You have coffee?” he asked, his voice deep and groggy.
“Just wake up?” It was the middle of the day already, and he was still sleeping?
“Had trouble falling asleep. Coffee?”
She pointed to the empty percolator on the counter.
“You don’t have one of those one-cup machines?”
He picked up the pot and turned it in his hands while he looked at it and frowned. “Do you know how to make it?”
“Nope. I drink tea.”
He made a loud grunting sound, which Lorraine guessed was a sigh. “Is there a deli nearby or a Dunkin’ Donuts?”
“Yeah. Make a left outside the development. There’s a side road on your right that’ll take you right to the shopping center. There’s a deli and a Dunkin’.”
“School. She and Carter wanted to go.”
I shrugged. “Too depressing here? I don’t know.”
He nodded and left. Two minutes later, Lorraine heard his bike come to a roaring start. Oh how she wished she were on the back of it right now. Better yet, she wished she could take it out on her own. She’d never felt anything like what she’d felt last night. The cold wind on her face, the smell of the pavement combined with the smell of the frozen woods, outriding her thoughts.
As Lorraine sipped her tea, the impending sorrow began to settle around her. It didn’t seem real yet—her mother dying—but she knew once it finally hit, she would be lost. She didn’t know if she’d ever come back from the devastation once it sank in. Her mother was her teacher, her confidant, her best friend—her hero. Though Lorraine was only six years old when she watched her father die on the floor in front of her, she could vividly remember her very pregnant mother taking charge of the whole scene. Tatum Blanchett Mattina Mack was an elementary school teacher, but she commanded respect and authority no matter who was in the room. The day Lorraine’s father died, Tatum stood tall and composed. No tears were shed by her mother that day. Even at the services, Lorraine could recall her mother comforting those who offered their condolences. “Oh, Gert,” Lorraine remembered her mother speaking to Lorraine’s father’s cousin. “I’m so sorry. I know how much Dominic meant to you.” Gertrude went on to explain how her cousin Dominic was her favorite cousin, and they were so close, and she didn’t know how she would live without him. Yeah, how she would live without him. How was Lorraine’s pregnant mother going to live without her husband? How would Lorraine live without her father? How would her new baby sibling live without him? Lorraine was six, but still, she’d thought these things. And she couldn’t understand why her mother didn’t say something along the lines of, “You’re worried about yourself right now?” But no, Lorraine’s mother was selfless and compassionate and thought nothing of putting someone else’s feelings before her own. Lorraine wasn’t like that. But, right now, she was hoping to imitate her mother’s strength and selflessness. But how could she do that if she let herself feel the imminent pain? How did her mother hide the hurt? Because even though Lorraine was six, she could see it in her mother’s eyes; her mother may have been easing the aches of her consolers, but no one was taking her mother’s suffering away. Yet, her mother smiled through it regardless. Now it was Lorraine’s turn to be the strong one—for Carter, for Norah. But could she? She was having her doubts.
The loud roar of the motorcycle once again invaded her thoughts. Noah. She didn’t know what to think of him or what part he’d play in all this. He’d most likely go back to his college life as if his sister’s life wasn’t just turned upside down. As if all their lives weren’t just shaken up like a broken snow globe, all its pieces floating aimlessly until they landed. The thing was, Lorraine thought, where would they all land?
“Hey.” Noah ambled back in and took a seat at the table. After digging into a brown deli bag, he pulled out a cup of coffee and two packages of Hostess orange cupcakes. “Want one?” he asked, holding up one of the packages.
Lorraine shrugged. She liked orange cupcakes. “Okay.”
Noah slid it across the table, tore open his package, and took a bite so big that half the cupcake was already gone.
With a full mouth and a groan, he mumbled, “Mmmm hmm,” and then chased it down with a gulp of coffee.
“So,” Lorraine started, figuring she’d better give him time to find something for his father to wear. “You think you can pick out a suit for your father to wear tomorrow?”
He put down the coffee he was about to sip again and looked at her. “What?”
“My grandmother would like you to pick out a suit. Y’know, for your dad. For the wake.” Lorraine ripped open her package of cupcakes.
“Jesus Christ. No. No, I’m not going to pick out a suit. You do it.”
“Me?” she asked, pausing as the cupcake reached her lips. “Why me?”
He gaped at her. “Why not?”
“Why not?” She put her cupcake down. “Because he’s not my father. He’s yours.”
Noah’s eyes rolled up, he shook his head, and closed his eyelids all at the same time. “I’ve seen him twice in two years. I hardly even talked to him. You want him to look nice, you do it. I’m not picking out a suit.”
Lorraine picked at the orange icing on her cupcake while she contemplated how to respond. “You know,” she said, after a few seconds, “whatever your problems were with Brick, I think you should put them aside for this weekend. This can’t be easy for your sister. I mean, Norah has become a sister to me, but Mimi, she doesn’t come visit much, so I’m sure Norah feels a little uncomfortable around her.” Lorraine paused when she saw Noah close his eyes and shake his head while he let out an exaggerated breath. “I’m serious. She needs you right now to step up and be her big brother. All I’ve seen so far is you being inconvenienced by being here. Grow up, Noah.”
“Gee, thanks, Rain. You put it all in perspective for me.” Noah slapped his forehead. “Picking out a suit will make it all better for Norah. Geez. Why didn’t I think about that?”
“Y’know, Noah. You’re an ass.”
“And you can bite it.”