Daney

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Teddy walked out of Daney’s room. I could tell that he was holding back tears, and I hoped to god that my parents didn’t see the ring he had clenched in his hand.
“Dr. Manning?” I heard Mother say tearfully, but I was sure she already knew the answer. We all already knew the answer. Teddy shook his head and said, “I’m sorry, Ma’am. There was nothing I could do for her.” I glanced around at Mother and saw tears rolling down her face. Father had gone stiff and stony-faced. In the other room I could hear Baby John crying, and I felt sorry for him. He would never get to know the sister who had taken care of him for the first six months of his life. He would never get to have the life Daney was going to give him. But at the same time, I felt glad for him. He would never have to go through what the rest of us were going through now.
It’s all my fault, I thought angrily at myself. If I had just been patient with her and not stormed out and forgotten about her medicine she would be fine right now. I’m a failure. And suddenly, without thinking for a moment what the consequences might be, I hitched up my skirt and ran out the door straight for the forest. I knew how much trouble I would have gotten in any other time for going into the forest. I knew that I would be in more trouble for running out like that. I put the two together and added that in with the amount of stress in the room at that moment, and I knew I would be in the worst trouble I had been in for ages. But I didn’t care. All I cared about was that my sister had just died and I wanted to get away from everything. I wanted to be alone and take a break from life.
I ran through the trees, dodging the stump Daney always tripped on, jumping the stream where the two of us had sat watching my first dead goldfish float away, turning at the tree she had carved an arrow in. Everywhere there were signs of the many times we had snuck into the woods. I kept running for what seemed like hours, all the while remembering as many memories as I could with Daney in them.
The first memory I had of Daney, when she carried me off into the woods for the first time all those years ago. The first time Mother let her feed me real food, the time when we switched the salt and the sugar before Mother started to cook dinner, the time we stole Father’s whittling knife to carve the arrow into the tree. Then I remembered all the times when I was sad or hurt and she cheered me up, and the first time she ever got mad at me. She had yelled and yelled, and I started to cry. She stopped and turned around and gave me her favorite teddy bear, promising me that we would go to the woods that night.
The first time she told me she had a crush, the first time I told her about mine; when she told me about her first kiss. The day she came home and told me that Teddy had asked her to marry him and made me promise not to tell anyone stood out particularly, and I wondered what he would do with that ring and if he would tell my parents. Then I remembered the day Baby John was born and the delight on Daney’s face as she planned out everything she would do with him.
I stopped and realized that I had found my way to the place where we had brought him the first time we took him to the forest. Suddenly I knew what I had to do. I’m going to go back and give Baby John the life Daney wanted him to have. I turned around and saw Teddy sitting on Daney’s favorite boulder fingering her ring and said, “I think I’m ready to go back now.”





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