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The Price of a Good Win

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The hot sun blared down on my back, my t-shirt starting to feel sweaty on my back. I stretched, and stood up. “Let’s race,” I said, itching to get moving.

My sister looked up from the sidewalk, her chalk drawing not finished, as far as I could tell. Her auburn curls were sweaty against her forehead and she appeared exhausted, but maybe that was just the way four year olds looked. “Maeve,” she said, pushing herself up, until she stood.

Then, before I could say anything, she dropped the chalk, dug her sandals into the grass, and took off. “Heeeeeyyyy!” I yelled, jogging right behind her. “You’re such a little cheater.”

She giggled and took off faster, and I slowed down, fanning myself, sweat sweeping down my face. I watched her run, faster, faster, and then, she turned to look back at me. I saw, almost like she was frozen for just a moment, her sandal catch on the crack in the sidewalk. Her momentum carried her forward, and I saw the surprise on her face. I screamed, running to her. By the time I reached her she lay on the ground, frozen in shock. “You’re all right, Els,” I said roughly.

“Get up.” She didn’t move. Then, she rolled over, looked at me, and burst out crying. Not her usual, “I need attention so look at me right now” crying, but screaming, gasping sobs.

“What!” I yelled. “Where does it hurt!”?

She gestured at her arm. I grabbed her around the waist and hauled her up. She screamed at me, crying so hard she couldn’t get the words out. “Come on,” I said, more calmly now, trying to settle her down.

“We need to take you to mama,” I soothed her as I half carried her up the front stairs.

“Mama!” I screamed through the glass door, still supporting Els. She came hurrying down stairs, and saw my sister’s red, wet face and pained look.

My mom pushed open the door, and looked at me. “What happened?” My mom asked, the calm and reliable nurse in her showing through.

“She fell.” I replied, hopelessly. Els continued to whimper in my arms. My mom grabbed Els, and ushered her into the house.

“Maeve”, my mom said briskly.

“Yeah?” I said.

“Outside,” she said, pointing to the door.

I tried protesting, but I knew that I didn’t really want to be there anyway, watching my sister yell and scream and my mom try and figure out what happened. So I opened the glass door once again and sat on the porch, the hot sun no longer a bother. “Els will be totally fine,” I told myself. “I mean, she’s fallen out of trees, gotten attacked by a cat who tore her legs open, gotten surgery, and landed on her arm multiple times. This is just like one of those times. She will be fine.”

And so, this way, I halfway convinced myself. Halfway – a part of me was screaming with Els and all that part of me could think about was her and what had happened and how all of it was my fault.

It wasn’t my fault. Maybe, though, I had something to do with it. I shook away those thoughts, and rose from the step.

I went back inside without being invited. I listened. The house was silent. I walked from room to room on the main floor, but saw no one. I ran upstairs, and ran into my dad in his bedroom.
“Where did they go?” I asked, slightly out of breath.

“Hospital,” he said, pulling on socks.

“What?” I said. “Why?”

“Mama thinks her arm might be broken.”

“So… what do I do?”

“Sit tight,” he said. “I’m going there right now. “We’ll call you if anything happens.”



My sister came home with her arm in a sling and a slight fracture. When she got home, I hugged her; relieved it hadn’t been anything serious. She looked at me, smiling. “What?” I said, slightly peeved.

“Maeve, I won.”




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