Six Knots

January 31, 2011
By , Elwin, IL
They pulled me out of 4th hour health. We were discussing fatal illnesses that day. Go figure. I walked out of the room with my books in hand. The secretary walked with me, told me my father was waiting in the office, and that everything would be okay. Something bad happened. I almost became too stiff and rigid to gather up everything in my bag or get my coat on.

I walked into the office and there he was. My father’s face was hollow and his eyes had red rings under them. It must be Embry, a voice in my head said.

Embry was my 9-year-old sister who was diagnosed with Leukemia when she was four. She’d been checked into the Pediatric Center at the Florida Hospital Cancer Institute for about three weeks. Her condition had gotten worse than ever and doctors weren’t sure what their next move was or how much longer she would survive.

My father and I walked to the car in silence. When we got in, he explained to me calmly that Embry was shutting down and there is not anything anyone can do. This was it. I began crying hysterically, even though I knew this was coming. My father said nothing, knowing that I did not want comfort over the situation. He just continued on with the thirty minute drive to the hospital, going 10mph over the speed limit.

When we arrived there, we checked in as visitors of Embry Steele and proceeded on to her room upstairs. I wasn’t sure what I’d see when I saw her. Maybe she’d look the same. No, that was silly. She’d look worse.

I entered her room and there she was. I gasped at the sight of her because I didn’t think I had ever seen something so heart breaking.

She looked ten pounds lighter from when I saw her yesterday; just when I thought she couldn’t get any skinnier. The bags under her eyes were so dark compared to her white skin that it looked as if someone had put dark eye shadow on her. She had tripled the amount of bruises on her head and arms, and she was excessively sweating. She was also panting and it got much heavier when she caught sight of me. “Sammy!” she whispered, an attempted yell. She was wheezing now. I cringed, and I thought my heart had split in two right then. I ran to her side, and gently took her hand. “I’m so glad you’re here,” she panted again. She lifted her arm very slowly to touch my hair. It’s something she’s always done, even when she was a baby. When she was five, she learned how to tie a knot in my hair with just two fingers. Ever since, she does it absentmindedly to sooth me. She’s dying but yet she’s worrying about me. That’s Embry. She was at two knots now.

My mom and dad were across the other side of the bed, telling her that they love her and crying quietly. They assured her that where she was about to go was amazing, wonderful, and pain-free. They told her that God would always be with her and she would have everything she wants and needs. She nodded her head, looked at all of us and said “I love you”. Four knots now.

On the fifth knot, she went very slowly, and then her fingers went limp. Her eyes closed eternally that day. When they did, I realized that I could never look into them and see them looking back ever again. I learned to live half alive. I let go of her cold hand and took a step back. I could still feel her playing with my hair, but I knew that was impossible. She was gone. But she wasn’t. I could feel her, as if she was standing next to me and touching my hair. I looked down at the five knots in my hair, each on different strands. It was then that I noticed a sixth knot that wasn’t there before.





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LifeInTechnicolour This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 6, 2011 at 12:44 pm
God, how horrible. I'm so sorry. My grandmother passed away this summer from leukemia like your sister. I'm really sorry. That's amazing about the knot, by the way. I'm praying for you and your family <3 <3 
 
LifeInTechnicolour This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 6, 2011 at 12:45 pm
Oh wait...realistic fiction. If this really happened to you, then I'm still really sorry! If not - great story, really well written! :P
 
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