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Strong

She sits up straight in the chair facing away from the stairs—away from me. Her spoon clinks softly as it hits the bottom of the bowl; it’s cereal, as usual. Boring. I watch her for a moment, planning my attack. I don’t move an inch: this moment has to be perfect.
The corners of my mouth twist a little when I realize she’s wearing braids; my own blond hair, squeezed into pigtails, looks identical. We look identical. Ha. I could almost laugh. But that’s what twins are for, huh. Just in case you can’t find a mirror.
“Tag, you’re it!” I shout into her ear. My timing is perfect—when I poke her, she jumps into the air. Her hands shoot up to cover her ears and her eyes scrunch closed.
“Uhh… too loud,” she moans. I laugh. No matter how many times I do this, it never gets old. I smile at her, big and bright, with all my teeth showing. It’s so fun to make her mad.
“Kate, leave your sister alone,” Mom shuffles in and fumbles for the coffee. When she turns, her eyes are still drowsy—half-asleep.
“Fine, fine,” I say, raising my hands above the table, a universal white flag. “I won’t touch her.” But I wink at her when Mom can’t see. She sticks out her tongue.
The clock is being hateful this morning—it screams that I’m late. I grab a piece of toast and whisk toward the door. My ride is waiting in the driveway; I can see the car through the window. I grab my heaviest coat and heft my book-bag onto my shoulders. But when I get to the door, I turn.
“Bye Mom, Bye Leah! Love you, have a great day!” It feels so strange to leave Leah behind. But Mom says she’ll be at school later, so I don’t say anything. I’ll make sure she’s forgiven me then (she will, I know). I wave once more and dash to the car.
*********
At lunch, the noise is a dull roar behind every conversation—it’s like some kind of twisted theme music, but I don’t know the show. Probably something shallow and dull. I’m starting to wish Leah were here, just to break up the vapid conversation I’m trapped in. Maybe she’ll show up to save me, right now. Okay, maybe not. But how about now. Again, not so much. I excuse myself and get up to throw away my tray—momentary escape. Dealing with people isn’t usually this exhausting.
As I turn away from the table, I walk face first into Brian. Brian, who is Leah’s best friend. Brian, who has that dreamy voice and even dreamier face. My lunch goes flying.
“Oops, sorry Kate,” he says and all I can think is God, those lips. But, I remind myself, Leah has dibs—even if she won’t take them. So I half-smile at him and back away and crouch to pick up my trash. He does the same and hands me the rest.
“I was actually coming to talk to you, “he says. “Is Leah sick or something?”
Oh, she should definitely take dibs on this one. It’s hard not to stare too far into his eyes when I answer. I concentrate on speaking coherently.
“No, I don’t think so, she was just going in for a doctor’s appointment, she is supposed to be back later today, so I’ll tell her to catch up with you, you know, if she gets the chance…” I’m babbling. Message to mouth: Shut. Up. He just nods with a half-smile on his face.
“Cool. Tell her I’ll talk to her in a bit. And I’ll see you around.” With a wave, he turns around. I smile as he walks away. It’s nice to see someone so sweet so in love with my sister.
*********
When I walk into the house, it’s quiet; I can hear the thump-thump of the laundry, the swish of the dishwasher, the voices whispering in the kitchen—I follow them to the doorway. Leah and Mom are sitting at the table—they stop talking when I walk in. Leah looks up and raises her hand at me, but Mom does not move; she stares off at the wall and does not speak.
“Hey.” I slide into the seat beside Leah. “What’s up?” She looks at Mom for a moment before she answers.
“I have something I need to tell you. “ She says it quietly, slowly, in a way that makes me nervous. I wait as she looks at Mom again. I think the clock on the wall is the loudest thing I have ever heard. She opens her mouth.
“I have cancer.”
*********

It’s late. I’ve been here for… wait, what time is it? Maybe midnight? So probably seven hours. I bury my face back in my pillow.

“Kate? Are you awake?” Her voice is quiet. Like when she told me. Like when my world began to crumble.

“You have cancer?”The words burned as they fought their way out of my mouth. She looked down.

“How bad is it?” Did it count that my voice trembled? That tears came to my eyes? Did that count for anything? She didn’t look up.
Mom spoke instead. She tried to smile; it looked like a grimace.

“ They’re starting her on chemo tomorrow, and radiation next week, and you know they say that’s very effective, and she’s normally so healthy, so that’s supposed to …”

“A year,” Leah interrupted, her voice clear and quiet. She always was the stronger one of us all. “They said that at this point, I probably have a year.”

I was choking then. Drowning. It was so hard to breathe.

“I’m… sorry, I… I have to go.” The room spun: spun as I dashed up the steps. Spun as I ran through the doorway to my room. Spun as I wiped the tears from my eyes.
I closed the door behind me.
“Kate?” She whispers again. I lift my head so she knows I’m listening. She walks in and sits on the end of my bed, behind me; when I look, silver tears are trailing down her cheeks. I sit up and face her.
“Kate, I’m scared.” Her voice is thick. “I am so, so scared.”
“Me, too,” I whisper. And I hold her as she cries.



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This article has 42 comments. Post your own!

-Missy- said...
Aug. 26, 2010 at 5:42 pm:
This sounds REALLY familiar. I think I have read something like this before. It's nothing new to me, oh well though. Good job I guess.
 
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Shelly-T said...
Aug. 15, 2010 at 9:26 pm:
This is really good!! The best thing I read in a while, and it kept me reading!!!  Amazing! 
 
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LastChapter said...
Aug. 8, 2010 at 2:03 pm:
i also had a feeling Leah had cancer, but i dont think you need to wrap up the story. i think leaving it where you dont know whether she lives or dies, just that she's scared, is a great way to end. sometimes, if the ending has too much closure, it doesn't leave you enough room to wonder. you wont spend any more time thinking about the characters or anything because you already know the ending. G-R-E-A-T job!
 
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deka9 said...
Jul. 19, 2010 at 3:18 am:

ARGH!!!!! This is heartbreaking and very very well written. :D I don't know what to say. You took me on a ride from the playful fight between sisters to dips on a boy to frighten news about cancer to finally dependency between them.

I didn't care about any mistake because this is sooooo well written. And at the end when Leah told Kate of how she was scared....it brought chills to my nose. Love, love, love this!! :D

P.S. Okay, so I reread this when I was watching Parent Trap. Nat... (more »)

 
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PorcelainShadow said...
Jul. 16, 2010 at 2:12 pm:
The story flowed very well! i think its a big dissapointment that Leah will... well, die. Maybe you could write on to it, so i can read what happens? because i really do want to!
 
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SilverSnowflakes said...
Jul. 2, 2010 at 6:56 pm:
I almost started crying when I read this... I KNEW it was going to be cancer though so I wasn't very surprised. I know this is in the fiction section but I'd feel better if you said she actually did get better and lived...
 
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Midnight_Hum This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 29, 2010 at 10:21 am:

The first thing that I want to tell you is that I really liked your story, and that's something that I can't honestly say about most stories that I read on Teen Ink. You have a great writing style, and more importantly you understand the importance of substance and technique in a story, something that many people have trouble comprehending.

Now that you know that I like it, you don't have to be nervous.

First, the problems.

You have the tendency to-how do I say this-go <... (more »)

 
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Mary L. said...
Jun. 10, 2010 at 3:37 pm:
i cried reading this :'( but i must say it one of the greatest stories I've seen on here :)
 
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banangela29 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 31, 2010 at 11:15 am:

I really liked how you interwove the small, somewhat petty problem with the boy, and then BANG! reality! cancer! Very good, very startling.

Thatsaid, I thiink for a story this deep and sober, you need to use more serious language at certain points. Very good use of syntax, maybe smooth out the dialogue a bit.

Excellent job overall, though, very very good.

Be sure to take a look at some of my work if you get the chance :)

 
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AvengedJasonFold said...
May 30, 2010 at 9:04 am:

Simon Cowel feedback (you asked for it!)

Ok so this is the first article under SC feedback that I've reviewed where I could only find 2 mistakes, neither of which took anything away from the absolute masterful writing of this paper. Usually I tell people what they did good first, but for this paper i have to tell you the bad first so that I can talk about how great it is without interruptions :)

first thing was the sentence "But that's... huh." You forgot to put a ? after "huh"<... (more »)

 
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SUPERMANDwightHoward said...
May 10, 2010 at 8:36 am:
Very realistic you have very real talent, the dialouge was not forced like some other works I've seen.
 
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elizabethlaura said...
May 9, 2010 at 7:55 pm:
this is amazing. i love it! you have a talent :)
 
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Rosalie said...
May 7, 2010 at 7:27 am:

this piece is so real.

u have real talent!

im a twin:)

 
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redsoxandsunshine said...
Apr. 22, 2010 at 10:09 pm:
I'd just read one of your funny pieces, this one is so much different and more sobering... the dialogue was very believable.
 
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k1ck4ss said...
Apr. 21, 2010 at 9:51 pm:
Amazinnnng.
 
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D3N~Po0ki3SaUR:3 said...
Apr. 19, 2010 at 12:39 pm:
This is a nice piece. I was stuck trying to guess what was wrong with her, I had an idea it was something like cancer haha.
 
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~Air~This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 17, 2010 at 5:35 pm:

Wow, this is simply beautiful. It's so sad as well. I really, really like it. You should probably try to continue with this. It would be nice if it was a full story. Also, I love the description you used.

Keep writing!

 
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--LoveHappens-- said...
Apr. 17, 2010 at 1:35 pm:
Wow this is a great story and a very tragic one at that. The description is great as well as the suspense leading up to why Leah is not at school. I would love it if you continued writing this story to extend it because it is really great so far. Also please anyone take a look at any of my work and leave a comment and rate it thanks so much!!!! Keep Writing
 
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little-miss-sunshine said...
Mar. 4, 2010 at 6:54 pm:
Beautiful. I love the way it is written. It is just so powerful, and beautiful ,and amazing! The story line is also so emotional and (using the same words again,lol) powerful. I think this story should be left where it is though. I think if you were to continue it would kind of ruin the story, but that's just my opinion. Fantastic story. Keep writing!
 
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xtwilightx95 said...
Feb. 21, 2010 at 4:02 pm:
Wow, this story was great and very descriptive. I would love to read more on this!
 
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