Original Post

Title: Beaker Becker
Genre: Young Adult

I unlock the gate and go inside. Mom and my older brother Gavin are at the dining room table. I notice right away that Gavin’s eating strawberry shortcake. They stop talking when I come in and just sit there staring at me.

“What?” I say, slamming the gate shut.

“Where were you?” Mom asks.

“Upstairs on the roof.”

“In this weather?”

“It’s stopped raining, Mom. A long time ago.” I kick off my flip-flops under the piano bench and stalk over to the table. I’m wondering why Gavin gets strawberry shortcake. Mom didn’t say anything to me about strawberry shortcake when we finished dinner.

“Marcy.” Mom’s voice sounds tired. She rubs her temples with her index fingers.

“What?” I thump down into the seat next to Mom. This is getting irritating. I feel like I’m missing something. Then I notice Mom’s nose is red like she’s been crying.

“Mom got bad news,” Gavin says with his mouth full of strawberry shortcake. “Well, we all got bad news.”

“Grandma Duncan had a stroke,” she says, blowing her nose into a crumpled tissue.

I gasp. “When?”

“A few hours ago. Uncle Dick called. He seems to think I ought to come home, at least for a few weeks. The doctors … don’t know how long she has left.”

Gavin holds her hand as he takes another bite of shortcake. Mom settles a grateful look on him. He always knows the right thing to do. Not like me.