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The Word

“High casual,” he says
I ignorantly blurt, “Why?”
But then nod and run upstairs to get dressed
I focus on my clothes, leafing through piles of color, color, color
Will she be overwhelmed from the color red?
But black is too…
I force my legs into black tights
There.
A harmonic jumble of
Compromise
I throw the leather flats off my feet
Hating the sound of “click clack I’m a snob”
Stuffing feet into slouchy boots
Hiding the bows inside them
Worrying if they are too prissy
I don’t argue over the front seat with Eliza
He explains to us about masks and Purell
Between coughs and sniffles
I am quiet in the backseat as usual
Letting the music drown out my thoughts
I notice he never uses the word
But uses other words to soften the blow
They don’t take away from the sorrow, though
“Love,” he says
“Give her love”
I’m afraid that I will scare her
Or make her cry
I don’t want her to cry
I don’t want her to lose hope
I’m nervous to see her
Not like the kind of nervous you get over chicken cacciatore before your musical
The kind where you’re afraid to be the one who could ruin everything
With just one touch
I look out the window
Seeing a sign
“In Memory of Who Served in the Name of Our Town”
I swallow hard as the word ‘suicide’ is tossed around in a song
“SHUT UP!” I want to scream to the singer
Inside the tiny radio
“AREN’T YOU LISTENING?! CAN’T YOU HEAR THAT SHE’S SICK?!”
I imagine his voice, syrupy and sarcastic, “Well, how sick?”
I take a peek at myself in the rear view mirror
Eyebrows furrowed
Mouth bent downwards
Eyes dead
I didn’t mean to say that
Frantically searching my mind for a different word
Eyes…sullen
Without a spark
My mosquito bite itches
But I don’t scratch it
Afraid it might bleed
We’ve been in the car for a while, it seems
My stomach has that carsick feeling
But I will not get sick
I will not get sick.
I stay in the car as they run out to meet them
Bampy steps out first, smiling, smiling, smiling
“We’ll see how she’s doing,” he murmurs to my dad
Nana comes out now, loud and bustling
“Alright, let’s go”
Complaining but sweet, that ole Nana of mine
Eliza chews on a mint
And slips me one, too
I finish mine as quickly as you can say 1,2,3
I wonder how Nans is taking it
Her own sister, after all
Zipping her purse
Pops in a mint
Buckling her seatbelt
And changes the subject to the game
Flag football, in fact
She’s a brave one
Not like me, though
I’m more like Bampy
Quiet and thoughtful
Not one to stand out and disagree
Lets others do the talking
Murmur, murmur
Silence
Something clanging in the trunk
But no one seems to notice
With other things on their mind
Nana easily says the word
That frightens me
Considering
Cars fly by
Going fast, fast, so fast
I silently tell them to slow down
Slow down!
SLOW DOWN!!!
A skull and cross bones shows up in a window
I despise the person that put up that poster
Why would they put that up?
Why don't cars have a speed limit?
Why do mints dissolve so quickly?
Why do people get cancer?
Eliza’s phone buzzes in an awful way
‘Blahhh-zzzz’
I tell her to keep it in the car
The sound is hideous
We pull into the parking lot
I realize I haven’t opened my mouth in a while
My heart stops as the car does
I feel embarrassed as the doors open automatically for me
I am able to push open a door by myself, thanks so much
Nana holds my hand tightly and asks for help
I am shocked at her sudden moment of vulnerability
“Help me on the elevator?”
Right.
“Sh-sure,” I force a smile, begging it not to waver
There it is, the metal rival down the hall and to the left
Nana cries and cries, “I can’t do it, I can’t, Steve, I can’t”
A moment of weakness.
Nana and I end up taking the stairs
Words of excuses sprint from her mouth as we reach Level 9
Skin absorbs Purell
His mouth is masked
Hesitance…
Cara swims into view, looking plump and radiant
I feel a breath of relief
We walk inside
There she is.
A tiny, frail body plastered against a hospital bed
A purple bandana grasps her skull
Her wrists, unimaginably thin
Eyes small and lifeless
That was the word I was searching for.
I hold her hand and whisper words of love and encouragement
I sit and listen to them speak
Her chapped lips and dry mouth refrain her from speaking clearly
My heavy heart refrains me
She cannot drink or eat
I feel guilty for those mints we ate
So hastily, I might add
Her voice makes me sad
Cracking and hoarse
Almost as worse as the sound of Eliza’s phone buzzing loudly in the small room
I want to leave
But I’m too scared that if I do, she won’t be there when I return
Suddenly, a hawk lands outside the window
Her husband loved hawks
“That’s Bert sayin’ hi,” Dad says
He’s lucky to have a cold
He’s got an excuse to sniffle
I just sit quietly, smiling at her to give her hope
Telling myself I must be brave
Soon, it’s time to leave
Goodbye, we say
See you soon, I quickly add
We leave in silence
Hands dispensing Purell as we go
Nana and I take the stairs
“She looked good,” I say
“She did,” Nans says
“She did…”
She breaks off, heaving, telling me to hold on, wait a second
I am waiting, I want to tell her, I’m not leaving you
Neither is she, I want to add
She isn’t leaving either.
She isn’t “passing on”.
She isn’t dying.




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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

she-is-a-strange-duckThis 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. said...
Oct. 11, 2011 at 6:15 pm:
Very well written... I adore how you are very honest when you write... Eliza's phone buzzing would have really bugged me too
 
HollerGirl26 replied...
Oct. 13, 2011 at 6:55 pm :
Thank you so much :) ! This really happened so I wanted it to be as real as possible...OMG IT WAS SO ANNOYING! 
 
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