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As I stare out the car window, I try as hard as I can to keep my emotions blank. It was always better that way these days. We’re on our way to see my twin sister, Karolynn, in the hospital. She’s sick with leukemia and her condition is rapidly deteriorating. My parents always refuse to tell me how she’s doing. My sister and I are so close, I don’t know what I would do if anything happened to her. But they can’t fool me; I have a way of knowing when things are wrong. Whenever we visit Karolynn it’s almost like I can feel her fading away.
I snap out of my daze in time to see the hospital looming over us. My dad pulls our car into a parking space and we sit there for a few seconds. I can feel dread in the air. No one wants to see Karolynn in this sickly state she’s in. It’s such a dramatic change from what a bubbly and hyper person she used to be.
Reluctantly, we all get out of the car and stride into the gloomy building. We walk right past the receptionists’ desk and straight towards the elevator. We don’t need to ask what roomy sister is in, we’d already been there plenty of times before. My mother’s spidery finger presses down on the third floor button and it glows orange to show her what she had just chosen.
“Honey,” my mother begins as the doors to the elevator close. “Keep in mind that she most likely looks a lot worse than she actually is. And remember-“
“Yes, mom, I know,” I interrupted. “Don’t say anything about Karolynn being sick. Talk about light happy subjects.”
My mother gives me a pleading look, but she knows that I know all of this and am tired of her re-explaining all the time.
“Lia please let your mother finish her own sentences.” My dad scolds in an exasperated tone.
Finally we hear the ding of the elevator that tells us we are on our floor. We step out and walk down the all too familiar hallway to room 316. Cautiously, we step in, afraid of what we will see. I close my eyes, take a deep breath to ready myself, and step in.
I open my eyes and realize that nothing could have prepared me for this sight. There, fragilely lying on the bed was my sister. I barely recognized her. I almost gasp in horror because for a moment I thought she was dead. Her frail, ghostly white form lay still with multiple tubes protruding her skin. I can see her veins even more clearly than last time, and she barely has any hair left on her head. There are several serious looking machines at work beside Karolynn’s bed.
I reach over and clench my mom’s hand to keep the tears in. Even though all I want to do is go hide somewhere where I can cry until all I feel is the numbness of nothing.
Eventually I let go of my mom’s hand and slowly, as if in a daze, I walk over to the side of Karolynn’s bed. Ever so gently I place my hand atop hers. I watch as she forces her heavy eyelids to open, and a weak smile creeps along her fragile face.
Though I try to hold them back, tears roll down my cheeks. And though it feels like the last thing I want to do at this moment, I smile back.
“I love you, Karolynn.” I tell her in a shaky voice.
“Love. You. Too.” She managed to whisper back, each word said slowly and carefully articulated. This makes the tears run faster, for I know it took up most of her energy just to speak those three words. I bite my lower lip, trying to force back the tears. Trying to be strong for both of us.
While still focused on my sister, I hear my parents in the background. They’re talking to the aid that is on shift. She is a middle aged woman with slightly graying honey blond hair and summer green eyes.
“How much longer?” I hear my dad ask. He tries to keep his tone flat, but I can hear the pain in his voice.
“Well,” the aid replies, trying to sympathize. “At the rate her health is declining, the doctor estimates about a week.”
“NO!” I scream, horrified.
I feel like my world is ending. I just can’t believe it. The doctor must be wrong. How could my sister/ best friend have a week to live? I feel like I’m stuck in a nightmare and I can’t wake up.
I run out of the room in a panic, tears streaming down my face. My hands are covering my face as I run; I have no idea where I’m going. But I don’t care. Suddenly, I run into someone.
“Hey,” a familiar voice says. “watch where you’re going.”
He holds me at arms length and pries my hands away from my face. It’s Nyki; he’s slightly taller than me, with ice blue eyes, and light brown hair. I’ve known him since preschool and he’s one of my closest friends. He recognizes me and sees my face (probably all wet, puffy, and red from crying), and his expression changes from slightly annoyed to concerned.
“Lia?” He starts, fearing he knows the answer to his question already. “What’s wrong?”
“My sister has a week to live,” I say simply. You could hear the tears in my voice.
Nyki pulls me into a big bear hug. He understood how I felt. In second grade his mom died in an accident caused by a drunk driver. Whenever I had a problem he was always there to comfort me.
“It’s gonna be okay,” he whispers into my ear.