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Are you coming inside? He says. What? No, no, I shouldn`t.
His eyes are sad and his mimic disappointed. You still don`t trust me? He asks. No, I reply.
I stare past him into his living room and see a sick man coughing on the couch. I have to go, I say.


I`m sitting by the desk when a guy comes over and looks my way. You`re that new girl? , he asks. Whatever. I shrug. Do you want to do something tonight? No, I say.
He walks away, muttering something.
I look down and resume reading my book. You like Jane Austen? , a stranger asks.
I look up, tensing to say something malicious.
Paul , I gasp. He shouldn`t be here. I told him. He should go.
He takes my hand. Do you want to see a movie tonight?, he asks. I`m busy, I answer and take my hand back.
He`s angry. I`ll see you tomorrow then, he says.
Sure, I whisper. Hopefully he didn`t hear me. The sarcasm in my answer is uncontrollably cool.


I walk out of McDonald`s. I can`t sit there any longer. Hiding from Paul never works anyway. The burger I`m holding leaves a ketchup stain on my cheek. I wipe it away with a tissue and throw it into a nearby bin which smells of vodka and burnt fat.
Busy, huh?
I turn around. There he is. You shouldn`t be here, I say. You shouldn`t be here.
I said I`m sorry, he pleas.
That excuse doesn`t work. He should know better. I start walking away, he follows.
Annie, I said I`m sorry, he whispers. Can`t listen to his agony. I run away. He doesn`t follow. That`s wise.
***
I start reading my book again. The bell rings and everyone prepares for another lecture. It`s the talk on the physical changes in humans again. The smart ones ditch biology.
Ms. Eno looks at me and points to the projector. I ignore her. Paul passes a note to me. I open it reluctantly. I should be stronger than this.
We`ll go together to the hospital. I`ll come by at six. Then we can order a pizza. Love you.
That`s all it says. In his perfect, neat writing. I take my pen, but put it down. It`s too early for I-love-yous. It`s too early for me. He should know that.


I stand by Tommy`s bed and hold his hand tightly, waiting for the nurse to leave so I can have a moment with my brother. She takes his pulse and jots something down on a chart by his bed. She has purple marks under her eyes and smells of blood and that medicine they put into injections. She probably had a long shift and she`s going home soon.
She shuts the door on her way out and throws me a sympathetic look. I welcome it.
The doctor says you`ll be out of here in no time Tommy, I say. I feel the tears coming on.
I tell him about my day in school, the way I always do. I tell him that Paul is sorry for what he did to him, though no one chooses to accept his apologies. Including me.
I drag a chair across the room and place it by his bed. I take a picture frame out of my bag. Tommy, that`s us. The whole family gathered together, I say. The whole family. I put it on the night stand.
I take out a handkerchief to hide my sobs. Then I take his hand and kiss each knuckle. His skin is dry and his fingers are curled up as though he was in agony.
You`ll be alright Tommy. You have to be. You have to.
I walk out of the room.
There he is, drinking a warm cup of coffee, the way Tommy will never be able to do again. I feel my fists clenching. It`s because of him. Because of him to Tommy is lying on that green bed, straight from another surgery. Because of him Tommy is in a coma. It`s all because of him.
You have to go, I say. Go. Now!
He takes me by the waist and hugs me. Then he begins to cry quietly. I don`t speak. There`s no need.
It`ll be alright Annie, he says after a minute. No, I say. It`s bloody not. He`s unconscious. He`s been that way for over a year now.
I can`t listen to those lies anymore. I know what`s going to happen.
An alarm goes off in Tommy`s room and nurses rush inside. I panic.
I try to get in but one middle aged nurse is trying to calm me and remove me from the room. Only after a while I realize that it`s the same woman who took his pulse a few minutes ago. I lean on the window and try to resurrect Tommy with my stare. His body shakes and blood comes out of his mouth. I scream and cry uncontrollably, banging on the strong glass. Nobody is trying to stop me.
Then it stops. They walk out of the room and one doctor comes over to me with a sad, but sympathetic expression on his face. He must have practiced it a million times.
I don`t listen to what he has to say. I can`t. I can`t.
I stand by the window, my palms on the glass, looking at the body that used to be my little brother. My Tommy.
I cry inaudibly. Nothing matters. Not school, not my family, not Paul. Only him.
Only my brother`s still warm body.
The doctor is securing his hand on my shoulder, as though he wanted to show that he knew what pain I was going through.
I push him away.
Paul takes my hand and squeezes it. I look at him with an astonished expression. What the hell is he doing! Doesn`t he know that Tommy is dead because of him?!?
I slap him on the cheek with my other hand. Let him feel the pain. I want him to bleed. I want him to lie there instead of my brother. I want him to die.
He closes his eyes and breathes slowly, probably trying to control his anger.
I slap him again, this time harder.
He pushes my whole body against the wall with such force, that I can hear a joint moving in my shoulder. I gasp in temporary pain.
I know it`s hard Annie, he whispers to my ear. I know. But that`s not a reason to go around hitting everybody.
I close my eyes and whisper back. I know it was you. Everybody knows. And you have no idea what it feels like.


I`m sitting on the cemetery. The grass is still wet. It`s very early.
The sun is going to rise in a minute and bring Tommy`s tombstone into the light. That`s my favorite moment. I come to see it every morning.
Tommy is smiling to himself right now. I just know it.
I lean in and kiss his photograph. It`s one of my favorite. That`s why I chose it.
I lay a daisy on the marble. He liked daisies.
I look up to see the sunrise and I cry. Tommy always marveled over its beauty. He was right. It is totally out of this world.
He said once that the energy that allows us to live is only borrowed and that we have to give it back some day. I laugh.
He probably got that quote from Avatar, and just made it his own. He was funny that way.
Love you, I whisper.
I get up. My jeans are all wet. I get my schoolbag and turn around.
You ready?
Sure, I say and let Paul take my hand.
You know what?, I say. I think he`s happy. Wherever he is, he`s happy. I just know it.
Paul laughs.
No, I`m serious, I say. He doesn`t have to go to school anymore. He hated school. And he doesn`t have to do the dishes every night. He hated that too.
I frown.
He shouldn`t have gone, I say. It wasn`t his time.
I know, I know, Paul says. He wants to sound sympathetic, but I don`t buy it.
So, do you want to go see a movie or something?, he asks.
I`m silent for a while.
Paul, tell me, did you know that that car was going to hit Tommy?
I`m as still as I can be. I need to hear his answer.
When you pushed him onto the road, did you know that he wasn`t ever going to get up again?, I continue.
Paul`s not looking at me. That`s worrying.
No, no I didn`t.
I`m looking at him intently now. He doesn`t look like he`s lying.
I guess I have to accept that as the truth.
For now.


I`m looking across the street. It`s dark. And very late.
The musicians are gone and only a few drunk men are sitting by the bar. I guess it`s time to leave.
This must be the place where Tommy was hit. I`m not surprised that he spent his last minutes here.
Tommy liked music, especially jazz. The best band played here.
I`m walking down the road. It`s the only part of the city with street lamps. That must mean it`s the safest.
It`s cold. I tie a scarf around my neck.
I slip on the ice. It hurts.
I get up and continue walking.
I`m nearly home now. Only a few more blocks to go.
I hear tires screeching and a man shouting.
I turn around and feel myself falling.
It`s dark. Someone is screaming.
I feel something in my mouth. Blood?
The pain is agonizing. I try to scream, but I can`t open my mouth.
I try to stand up, but I can`t feel my legs.
I see a teenage boy in front of me. He`s smiling and stretching his hand out. He`s healthy. . . and happy. We`re on the beach, my favorite place in the whole world. The sun is rising.
I take his hand and stand up. There`s no more pain, no more fear or sadness.
Tommy, I whisper.




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sunrise_faerie said...
Aug. 26, 2010 at 5:34 pm:
woah, great job!!! 
 
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MaddieGrThis 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. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 21, 2010 at 3:38 pm:
Wow.. love it. It started loosely, but by the time it finished, all the loose ends were tied up. You did a great job capturing emotions realistically, it didn't sound cheesy :p
 
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