The Glass Case: A Short Story
by Kristin Hannah
St. Martin’s Press 1998
What were your dreams when you were young? Have you achieved them? Do you still think about them? How did they evolve over the years?
In The Glass Case, we are treated to a wonderful heart-warming story that resonates in the life of each of us. We had dreams as children, of being an athlete, astronaut, scientist, video game character, or whatever. At some point in our lives, reality came home. Perhaps, we did things that cut off the dreams. Bad decisions, dumb actions, or simply the appearance of reality.
April is a teenager, whose mother sought to instill dreams in her young daughter. In a small town, there are limited ranges of things to do. April falls in love with the star high school quarterback, who has his own dreams of the Super Bowl. When Ryan and April tell her mother the news of her pregnancy at 17, the response reflects the feeling that parents have when their own dreams for their children hit the wall. “Oh, April . . . I wanted so much for you.” April’s dreams of a beautiful wedding with bridesmaids in attendance were shattered when her mother was diagnosed with cancer and died within two months, never meeting her grandson.
This touching story explores April’s feelings about herself, a late twenties woman with three children and a husband, Ryan, who works at Wal-Mart and has full health benefits, living in a house that was manufactured somewhere. “As I approach my third decade of life, I feel vaguely unformed, a work in progress,” she ruminates. “I had three babies in five years. The first and second were accidents, and after that, I figured What the hell? My boobs already looked like air-to-ground missiles . . . .”
One day, her young son Brad is not on the bus when it comes to the drop-off stop. April and the dog wait. No Brad. She races to the school, no Brad. The police search the town, no Brad. Ryan comes home, holding April with full confidence of finding the boy. Desperation rolls in like a storm. All the dreams of life mean so little, when your baby is in danger.
As darkness descends and a light rain deepens the gloom, April looks up. Brad stands on the corner in the rain. He followed a cow and missed the bus. A nice lady brought him home. She did not want to meet Brad’s mom. Instead, she gave him a small pottery heart, like the one April had made as a child. It even had the same thumb print from so long ago. “What did the lady say?” April asks. Tell your mom that “I got to hold your hand.”
April understood that her mom’s dream had come true. And her own.
Kristin Hannah has a wonderful knack for touching the humanity and reality of us all. Download The Glass Case and think about your own dreams. What is real in me?
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