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Happy Birthday

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Numbness isn't just a feeling, it's a monster with the face of an angel. No matter what anyone tells you, I swear that it's true. Numb is what I feel when I walk to the shed, my feet bare, to retrieve the metal rake. Numb is what I feel when I hand it to my mother; numb is what I feel when she drags the sharpened points down my shirt-less back. Numb is what I feel when I look into my mother's firey eyes, when I sneak a peek at my pale, sick twin sister and all her medical equipment: beeping away without a care in the world. Numb is what I feel when I'm forced to kneel before her roll away bed, and apologize for not having the right blood type to save her. And finally, numb is what I feel when my mother screams. Her words echo through my head, a twisted mantra that never stops, it's all your fault, it should have been you.
She tells me often, my mother, that I'm heartless. That my sister is more pure than I will ever be, which is why her heart is the only thing the cancer hasn't taken. She tells me these things with knives, wooden spoons, metal chairs, and the rake. I'm not sure if it actually hurts anymore, because I've forgotten what pain is. I've forgotten how to count, how to walk up straight, how to smile, and how to laugh. I've forgotten all these things over a span of five years, which is when my sister first fell ill. I barely speak anymore, only when I'm told to.Even then I have this feeling...I've always had this feeling, that no one was listening.
I lay my head against my pillow, my stringy black hair spread about like a dishelved rats nest, and try to sleep. I wake up suddenly to the sound of screaming. Daddy must have came home early. I cover my ears, but it's no use. I look over to see if the noise has waken my sister, but her bed is empty. And there's a little blood stain next to the disguarded I.V. needle. I'm worried. My sister hates me too of course, sometimes I think more than my mother, but I still love her and at that moment I had an irresistable urge to find her; to make sure that she was safe. The window to our room was open, she must have gone out that way. I followed suit, sliding down the shingles in my long white nightgown. I hit the ground with a crunch, a sound I enjoy. Autumn is my favorite season. It tells me, as it blows leaves around my head, that things will change...very, very soon.
I stumble into the woods, the almost bare branches scraping at my arms. I stop, I've stepped in something warm, something...out of place. It pooled around my feet, and a small trail of it ran farther into the woods. "Sonny?" I called out, my voice was hoarse and it wavered slightly. I followed the trail of crimson slowly, the full moon was my only source of light. The blood stopped, I stopped, my breathing hitched. I couldn't understand what I was seeing, that...or I didn't want to. Something, some force, pushed me forward and I fell into a puddle of thick blood, in which floated organs of every sort. I tried to scream, to wipe the blood that had splattered onto my face off, but I only made it worse. Her icy stare froze my vocal cords, she needed help. She needs my help, she still needs my help. She needed me to focus. Claw marks covered her slender body, her mouth had been cut into a jagged circle. She was sliced open, and I was wading in her guts. All that remained was her heart. My name had been carved neatly into it. A bell rung in the distance, declaring that midnight had arrived. I realized that it was our birthday today, and I had recieved my present.
I tried to pick her up, I needed to help her. But my hands failed to get a firm hold on her smooth skin. I slipped and fell back hard, all I had managed to do was leave my bloody handprints on her arms. This wasn't supposed to happen, it wasn't. I tried to tell her, but I couldn't open my mouth. My jaw was clamped firmly shut. Blood covered every inch of my body, my sister gave me a disgusted look. I disgusted her, because I failed. I was pushed forward again until my face was only an inch away from hers. She whispered in my ear and I lowered my head, a thin grin manifesting itself onto my face. She wasn't disgusted after all, she was...that's when I heard the screams.
I turned and saw my mother, she was staring at me with a horrified look painted on her face. But it was fake, she knew this was going to happen. She had to pretend, men were behind her. What was she supposed to do, act normal? No, of course not. I nodded at her, to let her know I understood. Her eyes widened, and I tilted my head to the side in confusion. I sighed, that wasn't paint on her face, her expression was real. She still didn't understand, she still didn't get it, and she still didn't care. The men looked like they didn't know what to do. One of them stumbled behind a tree and I heard him retching. I looked up torward the sky and screamed. I screamed as loud as my lungs would allow me to. It felt good, I hadn't screamed in years. My mother and the men covered their ears as I tried to stand, but the force behind me insisted that I stay sitting. It pushed me back down again.
"Help me mommy." I pleaded. She shuddered, before passing out, her limp body falling to the ground with a quiet thud. My father, as usual, was no where to be found. After checking on my unconcious mother the men asked me what I had done, and I nodded. I nodded because I did it. They didn't want to touch me, so they stalled. They asked me why, so I told them.
"It was for my birthday." They told me they didn't understand,
"I wanted to have a heart, for my birthday. So I carved my name into this one." I pointed to my twin.
The men looked like they all wanted to puke like the guy that was now passed out behind the tree. They told me, in quiet and cautious voices that they still didn't understand.
"My mommy told me I didn't have a heart, she said it was my fault that my sister was going to die." The men asked me if the girl was my sister, I nodded again. They asked me why my sister was going to die.
"Because she has cancer. My mommy said it infected all of her organs but her heart, because her heart was so strong and pure." I looked down at my nightgown, there wasn't even the smallest strip of white showing. It was entirely red.
"My mommy said if I had the right blood I could have saved my sister and her organs, but I didn't have the right blood. My mommy said it was because I was a terrible child, because I didn't have a heart." I licked my lips, they tasted like copper, "So I took her infected organs and her bad blood, but she died. I figured since she was dead, she wouldn't mind if I took her heart. I thought maybe if I had a heart, then mommy would love me. I thought this was my sister's gift to me. Today is my birthday you know, I'm turning sixteen."
The men had tears in their eyes when I looked back up at them, they asked me if today was her birthday too.
"Yes." I glanced back at my sister and sighed, "She died before I could give her my present." The men asked me what I was going to give her.
"I was going to give her this." I held up my blood stained hands, "I was going to give her my blood. My blood and my organs. I have good blood and organs, I just didn't have the right blood. Because I don't have a heart." They asked me when I did this, I told them I didn't remember. I told them I was looking for Sonny when I found out what I did. They looked at me like they were confused. I shook my head, they would never understand.
"My sister whispered something in my ear before you came." I said. They shook their heads and asked me what I was talking about. They told me my sister was dead, she couldn't speak. I ignored them,
"You know what she said to me?" I asked them. They shook their heads, and for the first time in five years I smiled,
"Happy Birthday."



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