I wake up from my sleep in a cold sweat. My eyes, groggy with sleep, adjust to the morning sun. I look at my alarm clock. It reads 6:30. I have another two hours until I need to be at work. I reach out onto the bedside table to get my phone, but it’s not there. Instead I feel a different type of phone. A flip phone. I look at the phone confused, thinking it might be a birthday prank from my roommate. I turn on the phone, and look at the date. Instead of seeing June 19, 2017, I see June 19, 2001. I’m convinced now that my roommate is pranking me, but sure enough, even the calender says 2001. I go to the door of my New York apartment and get the news paper. It says 2001. I look around at my once modern apartment and see nothing but outdated decor. This is not a prank, and I’m stuck in the worst day of my life.
June 19, 2001 is by far the worst day I have ever experienced. It was my brother and I’s sixth birthday. I woke up with my brother and barreled down the stairs, excited and ready to open our presents. After I had received a new Barbie doll and my brother got a new scooter, we ran outside to play with our new toys. My brother went first and looped around the street in front of our house on his scooter. He then scooted back to me waiting on the sidewalk.
“Daddy said to not ride the scooter until he came back out!” I shouted to him.
“It’s okay, Sammy, I’m only doing one circle around the street.”
“But Daddy said-”
“It’s fine Sammy” he said to me. He talked so convinced that I believed him, even though it broke my heart to disobey our dad. Then a car came around the corner and screeched to stop after colliding into my brother. I fell to the ground, my screams masked by the car motoring away. My brother lay in the street, on the verge of death. My screams grew louder, and after years of shrieking, my Dad finally came outside. He flew right past me and picked up my brother and threw him into the car. I watched them drive away in the grey minivan. I convinced myself that my brother would come back, and later on we could play with my barbie dolls and eat our cake. But that’s not what happened. What did happen on June 19, 2001, is that I failed to save my brother, and I can never let go of that.
After calming myself down and getting dressed, I leave my apartment in a hurry and find a car rental service. After renting a car I drive to my childhood home in the Pennsylvania suburbs. I get there at 9:34, and I can tell I’m just on time. Even as little as we were, my brother and I still enjoyed sleeping in. I park the car two houses away and wait.
A little after 10:30 I start to hear my brother and I trod out of my garage. This is it. As soon as I see my brother. Tears start to well in my eyes. He was wearing his dinosaur pajamas with his much too small green crocs. I see myself, plodding along behind him wearing a princess tiara. I want to keep watching, but I know what I have to do. I go to the edge of the block, where the rouge car come from, and wait.
“I wasn’t able to do this once, but I can do it this time” I say to myself. “I can do it.” I’m able to convince myself. Maybe tomorrow morning I can wake up with a twin brother. Maybe I won’t have to say goodbye.
As if in slow motion, I see the car that haunted my nightmares speed around the corner. I didn’t have a plan, but all at once I know what I have to do. I press down on the gas pedal as hard as I can, but I barely make a dent and the man keeps driving. I realize that it’s a man, about fifty years old, and he’s drunk. This makes me blind with anger. I step on the brakes and jump out of the car, a gash above my eye. The blue dress I had put on earlier is not dirty and ripped at the skirt. I chase the car, not noticing how dizzy I’m getting. I guided by my goal, the one thing that matters my brother.
“Move! Move!” I shriek. I see my six year old self turn around and gasp. Then I stop in my tracks and close my eyes tight because I know what will happen. I hear the familiar screeching and motor, but the scream I hear gets my attention. It’s not as high pitched as I remember. I open my eyes and see my brother, who's uninjured. Then I look across from him and I see a tiara, and red. I had succeeded, but at a cost. My brother notices me and by instinct, I run to him.
“Hey, hey, it’s okay. Take deep breaths, okay, like me.” I breathe in and out. He follows
“Pl-please. Yo- you have t-to help me and my, my sister. You need t-to h-help Sammy” he stutters.
“Okay, but first I need to make sure you’re okay. Andy, listen.” I messed up. I wasn’t supposed to say his name. My dad comes out, frantic. He then grabbed younger me’s frail body and rushed me to the car. He doesn’t even notice me, sitting in younger’s me blood. I want to say good-bye, but I know I can’t. Right before he speeds away, he rolls down his window.
“Andrew, Samantha is going to be fine, you have to listen to me.” Daddy says to my brother. He nods, still sobbing. Then he turns to me.
“Thank you” he says and drives away before I can say anything back. I watch him drive away, and I say goodbye for the both of us in my mind. Then I turn my attention back to my brother.
“Sammy came and pushed me out of the way. It’s my fault. She should have been fine, I should be the one with the boo-boo. It’s my fault and I didn’t save her. It’s my fault that I failed.”
“Hey, you can’t blame yourself”
“Who are you?”
“It’s okay, you did everything you could. Whatever happens is not your fault.” He looks at me, and then starts to sob. I hold him and he cries. We sit in the street, in a puddle of my dark red blood. I see the princess tiara, still shiny and perfect, and I hand it to him. He takes it and holds it close to his chest. I finally get what I’ve been wanting for all this time. This is the best birthday present I could have asked for.
Born June 19, 1995
Died June 19, 2001
She will be remembered always