Authors: Renea Porter
By Renea Porter
Copyright © 2015 by Renea Porter. All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: May 2015
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
To my Husband, whose love and devotion has never wavered. He is my number one fan!
Love you, always and forever.
Table of Contents
Walking back into work feels like a nightmare. A nightmare where I invite the devil to come in and I smile sweetly, hoping this outcome will be different than the last. But it’s all a lie; I am thrown in the lion’s den of hell. The devil will throw his head back and laugh.
I am a teaching assistant to second graders. I paint a smile across my face as I enter the room.
“Raine, it’s so nice to have you back. How are you holding up?” Jessica, the teacher I assist asks.
How does she think I’m holding up?
“I’m here. Not sure it was such a good idea.” Looking around the classroom, a lump forms in my throat as the kids start to come into the room. My mouth runs dry and a knot forms in my stomach.
“You can do this. It’s time to come back out and join the rest of the world,” she says.
She might be right. The last three months of school last year, I took a leave of absence, and then I had the summer off as well. Now it’s time to make my way back into life, but I’m not sure I know how anymore. Being holed up in my house felt safer than the outside world; the world is no longer the colorful place it once was.
Outside of work, Jessica has been a good friend. I’ve known her for over three years. I leaned on her a lot as I grieved, and she just listened like a great friend should. Sometimes she would bring cake over and we would eat it all while watching movies all day together. She’s also a single mom, and we connected with that in common. Though the commonality was no longer there, the friendship has grown over the years.
The kids are rambunctious, and Jessica settles them down as she starts the class. I take her planner and sit down to look it over. Once Jessica gets the lesson going, I walk around the room to help anyone who needs assistance. By the time recess comes, it is time for me to leave. I don’t want to hang around to see if I have a meltdown or not. These half days are much needed.
Back at home, I lie on the couch, trying to catch a few more hours of shuteye before the night comes. An hour or two later, I hear my back door swing open, knowing it’s my younger sister, Summer. She can be annoying at times, and I presume this will be one of those times.
“Hey, Raine, get up. We have to go dress shopping,” she huffs as she tugs at my legs.
She’s in the middle of putting the final touches on her wedding, and I’m lucky enough to be the maid of honor.
“Okay, okay, okay. Let me go straighten myself up.” I let out a sigh.
I already have a pair of jeans and a tee shirt on, so no need to change. I can’t wait until this wedding is over. Walking into my room, I straighten my hair and put on some light makeup. I hate the thought of shopping; this can take hours, especially trying on dresses. I groan and meet my sister back in the living room.
“That’s better,” she says of my appearance.
“Bite me,” I tease. I grab my clutch and slide my feet into my Converse shoes.
“When’s the last time you were out?” she asks as we enter her car.
“Today, actually. I went back to work, but it’s only part-time for now,” I tell her.
“Oh, I totally forgot. How did it go?”
“Horrible. It was hard being around those kids.” I look down to my lap, my hands fidgeting.
“I’m sorry.” She offers a sympathetic smile. “Well, maybe dress shopping will take your mind off things.”
I doubt it. Nothing I do takes my mind off
But maybe helping Summer plan the wedding will.
“Do you have your guest list done? What about a list for your bridal shower?”
“Yes and yes. I’ll get those to you this evening so you can send out the invites.” She smiles brightly, almost beaming.
I am truly happy for her and Charles. They had dated for three years prior to getting engaged, and I like him. He treats her great and she deserves to be happy. Unfortunately, our parents won’t be here to witness the occasion. They died several years back—my dad from a heart attack, and my mom to cancer not long after. She didn’t even fight the cancer, because she knew she could be reunited with my dad. Now
was love, and I want to feel at least half of that. My sister and I only have each other.
We make it to the dress shop and I cringe at the thought of trying on dresses. I wasn’t opposed to dresses in general, but dresses are important for an occasion like a wedding, and you have to pick just the right one. We meet Ellen, Kim, and Layla, her bridesmaids, inside. They greet us cheerfully.
Summer stands in front of us and places her hands together with an excited look on her face. “I already have some selections picked out for you all. If it doesn’t work, we can find something else.”
We all enter our assigned dressing rooms. Inside, I scan the three dresses hanging against each other. All three are longer in the back than the front, showing just enough leg in the front. They vary in material and color. The first one I try on is an emerald green, with beading along the bust and a sheer fabric over the material. It feels comfortable, and I exit the room to show Summer.
Her jaw drops and her eyes grow big as she scans me from head to toe. I twirl, showing her all sides of the dress.
“Wow, Sis, that looks stunning. I just don’t have any other words. That’s the one,” she states.
Thank god. No more dresses for me. Ellen, Kim, and Layla emerge from their dressing rooms, their gowns slightly shorter and also various colors of green—light green, mint green, and a shade in between. The hemline is even on their dresses and each looks great.
Summer studies them as they stand in front of her, tapping her chin. “I like that one,” she points to the shade in between light and mint green. I go back into the dressing room and change into my street clothes. When I come out, all three ladies are showing my sister her choice, and she nods in agreement on her chosen dress.
“You all look stunning,” I say, offering my opinion.
“I’m so excited for my final fitting,” Summer says after everyone changes back into their clothes. She goes in to try on her wedding gown. She picked it out four months ago, and I haven’t even seen it yet. I guess I should be more involved. It takes forever for her to finally come out.
She stands tall on the platform and gazes in the mirror. My voice is stolen from me, so speechless that I get teary-eyed. Her gown is strapless, all white with crystals lining the bust, and the dress hugs her body in all the right places with some ruching below the waist line.
“Simply gorgeous,” I finally manage to find the words.
The bridal consultant places the veil atop her blonde hair, and all we do is gush over how beautiful she looks. She is beaming and her gray eyes sparkle. I find a tissue in my bag to dot my teary eyes.
“Are you crying?” she asks, blinking back her own tears.
“Happy tears,” I confirm.
She bends down to hug me.
“Save the tears for the wedding day,” she says, trying to make us laugh.
I force a smile and proudly watch as she looks at herself in the mirror, smoothing the dress over her body. The consultant advises that the dress fits perfectly and nothing else needs to be done.
Summer insists on paying for our dresses, even though I am capable of paying for my own. She keeps insisting, so I let her; it’s a nice gesture and I’m grateful for it. No one’s dress needs adjusting, so we all take ours home with us.
“You didn’t have to do that,” I tell Summer when we enter her car, heading back home.
“You’re my sister, and when was the last time you were treated to something nice?”
I don’t answer.
“Exactly,” she says, confirming.
It’s true. I haven’t treated myself to anything. I’ve been dealing with everything else.
“It’s okay to be selfish, Raine. You’ve been through so much. It literally hurts my heart to see you so broken. Sometimes I think about her and it’s just too much.” She cries, and the tears streak her cheeks at the mention of my daughter. “I can’t imagine what you go through, but as her aunt, it kills me…especially because you’re my sister, and there’s nothing I can do to take the pain away.”
I reach for her hand, clutching it tightly. Ava was the light of my life.
“She loved you so much. You were her favorite aunt,” I say.
“I was her only aunt.” Summer laughs through the tears.
This is why I love my sister so much; she could make me laugh, even in my grief. I know Ava wouldn’t want us to grieve, but I can’t help it. How could God take her away from me? So many questions remain, and I know they will never be answered, no matter how much I plead. I hold my tears back, trying to be strong for Summer and myself. It’s all I can do. It’s all I have.
“I just can’t believe she’s gone, ya know.” She shakes her head.
“I know.” I swallow a hard lump in my throat.