In The Glass Table, fourteen-year-old Jack Irwin-Hunter hikes to Lake Como after running away from home. Since his younger brother was killed in a tragic accident, Jack has suffered alone while his parents mourned their loss. He believes his parents no longer care about him—his mother is always crying and clutching a photo of Colby, and his father wanders their garden aimlessly.
As a child, when a sibling dies, there is no way to understand your parent’s grieving, but as an adult, one can see the experience with an entirely different perspective.
In The Glass Table, Jack is cast into a spell to live as a river spirit, and is able to return home unseen and unheard. It is only then does he realize that his parents were not abandoning him as he had thought, but were suffering a great loss. He learns that his parents miss him as much as they missed Colby, and that they will go to any lengths to find him and bring him home.
This storyline is based on my experience following the tragic loss of my older brother when he was seventeen and I was sixteen.
Below is an extract from The Glass Table. The children have been cast into a spell to live as spirits in the river Kai. They have been divided into two opposing groups: the river spirits and the wood spirits. The river spirits can escape the spell, but only with dire consequences for the wood spirits. They have a manual that outlines the rules they must follow. In this scene, the river spirits are discussing who to appoint as their leader as required by the rules.
“Okay, first things first. We need to elect a leader. The manual says the leader’s role is to ensure the rules are followed, and that he or she may have to sacrifice his or her life so that the rest of the spirits may be freed,” said Jack.
“Whoa, that’s heavy,” said Lucy. “Who would want to volunteer for that gig? Count me out.”
“Volunteers?” Jack asked.
No hands rose into the water.
“Anyone want to be leader?” he asked and waited in silence. “Anyone at all?”
More silence followed.
“Okay,” he said, staring into his hands. “I guess my parents won’t even notice that I’m gone anyway. I’ll do it, if everyone wants me as their leader.”
Five heads bobbed and wobbled faster than a Slinky Dog.
“It’s yours, dude,” said Lucy. “You’re the leader.”
“Are you sure, Jack?” Ming asked. “It means you might never leave the river. Don’t you want to see your parents again?”
“He said he’d do it, Ming. No point trying to change his mind,” said Isaac. “Unless you’re planning to volunteer instead.”
Ming locked her eyes on the glass table.
“Okay, that settles it then,” said Jack.
End of extract.Tags: grief, hope, signs and connections