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If I Could Face It

I wanted to scream. The room was like a cage, a perfectly white cage that was shrinking, slowly shrinking around me. Every tick of the clock echoed in my head calling out “Run! Hurry up! Go or it’ll come for you too!” But of course, that was ridiculous. What came after my brother and put him here in this white over-starched hospital bed, was not some monster that comes after you. No, it was just a drunk driver and his car. All 2,000 pounds of metal aimed straight at my brother’s driver side window.
The first thing I noticed when I walked in the room was the smell. It smelled like clean. Everything in the room was either white or stainless steel and glistened under a fresh coat of rubbing alcohol. The blinds were open but the storm outside kept them from supplying much light. The second thing I noticed, after much hesitation, was him. He looked like a bruise, purple covered every part of him and he had gashes all over his face and arms. Tubes stuck out of him from his mouth arms and somewhere under the bed-sheet. (I tried not to think about that one.) He was still an impressive figure. All 6’8’’ of him barely fit on the hospital bed, but for the first time in his life, he looked… weak.
After I gave him the once over there wasn’t much to do, he was still comatose, but both the doctors and my parents said that spending time with him was something I needed to do. I flipped on the T.V. in an attempt to make the room more comfortable but it didn’t work, I still couldn’t shake my anxiousness. Exactly five minutes after I entered the room I couldn’t stand it anymore. I left that hospital with no intention of ever going back. I couldn’t do it, see my brother like that. He was a six foot giant who could out run, out bench, practically out anything, anyone I’d ever met. He wasn’t meant to lie there like that, like a vegetable.
Still jittery from my brief trip to the hospital, I did what I always do to calm down; I went running. When I started out it was only sprinkling but by the time I had run every last memory out of me it was pouring. As I approached my car, I saw it wasn’t alone. My mom sat inside of her car with a scowl. She unrolled her car window and a burst of hot air hit my face, I couldn’t tell if her heater or her anger was emitting it.
“Have you seen him yet?” he asked; the iciness in her voice cooled me down immediately.
“Kind of…” my voice was weak and was barely audible over the now vicious rain.
“Kind of?” her voice faltered and I could tell she was struggling to maintain control. “What do you mean kind of!? It’s been two months Delaney! When are you going to face it? He’s injured! Critically injured! You’re his sister you’re supposed to be there for him like everyone else, if not more!” All her anger from the last two months erupting on me.
“I’m supposed to just spend all my free time staring at his unconscious body? What if he never wakes up! Then what am I supposed to do?” The words snapped out of my mouth, and again only the rain could be heard.
“You know what?” My mom’s voice cut through the silence like a knife. “Don’t bother coming home ‘till you’re ready to be there for him.” She gave me one last distasteful look and rolled up her window. Her car disappeared into the sheets of rain and I was left alone, freezing, crying, and now homeless.
I’m not sure when it happened, but next thing I know, I’m standing in front of my brother’s door, eyes red and completely drenched. The second time I entered the room, the smell wasn’t as over powering, still strong, but less abrasive. I sat down in an old vinyl chair and watched him. He was breathing, not doing much else, but he was breathing. I focused on that, the rising of his chest, then the falling; the steady beep of his machines…
“I’m sorry,” the words slipped out surprising me. “I’m sorry,” I repeat it again suddenly realizing how true the words were.
“I’m sorry for not visiting, but I just couldn’t. It killed me inside, but I was afraid.”I paused embarrassed to admit it. “I’ve been jealous of you for so long. You were always faster than me, stronger, better, at everything. And I guess somewhere along the line I got so jealous that I started to hate you. I started to resent all the help you gave me. You got all the attention, and you barely even tried! I trained every day, as hard as I could! Then you crashed and you got even more attention, but I couldn’t be jealous of you for that. So I got afraid that if I saw you I would only feel that jealousy, which would be so wrong. So I just didn’t…” I sighed, my cheeks were red and I was on the verge of crying, but I was surprised by how sensible I found talking to him. In fact it made me feel better by a little bit. I let out another sigh, but this was one of relief. I knew he hadn’t heard me, but just admitting it to myself made me less afraid, being in the room didn’t make me nervous anymore.
With the fear suddenly gone, something else kicked in, my exhaustion. I found an extra bed sheet and made a make shift sleeping arrangement on the old vinyl chair beside him. As I drifted off to sleep I heard the beeps from the machine pick up slightly and then, a whisper, “The sit-ups,” a vaguely familiar voice croaked, “You always beat me at the sit-ups.”




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