A Ribbon of Heartache

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 Age 4
“ Jenna if you don’t play this with me, we won't be cousins anymore.” I shook my head at  her attempt to get me to play hide and seek with her.
  “ Lexis that’s not how it works,” I said try to sort her out.
“Yeah it is, now let’s play,” Lexis said while running out of my room leaving me to count.
“ Ok. . . 1. .” I started to count already knowing I was going to win since she always hid in spots she saw me hide in. I ran down my short hallway and entered the bathroom. I immediately  looked where I had hidden last. Bingo. In the bathtub. Lexis might not have been the best person   to play hide and seek with, but at least I didn’t lose to her.

Age 5
“That's mine!” Lexis yelled at me when I found an Easter egg that she was looking for.
“Ok,” I say realizing whatever I say I’ll lose the battle. I hand it to her and I notice that she now has more eggs than me. She probably didn’t see it as a competition, but I did. I start running to find more. In the end we counted our eggs on my great grandmother’s porch. She had one more than me.

Age 10
“Look what I brought” Lexis says as she pulls a weird looking soccer ball out of her mom’s car.
“What’s that?” I say confused.
“It’s a volleyball,” she stated, “LeeAnn taught me how to play”
“That’s cool, can you teach me?” I said, intrigued.
After a while of trying to learn I gave up and we started playing soccer with it.

***


Age 12
“Hey Lexis, don’t forget that we need to work on our homework now.” I said reminding Lexis that we needed to get stuff done before our big game. She shook her head while holding her head up on the desk. I sighed. Her headaches had been getting worse. Her doctor cleared her to play tonight but I don’t really want her to. Last game she had to be taken out by a headache that was inflamed by the crowd. I shoot her a look of sympathy even though she didn’t see it. We needed her to play, though. It was us against Rowan County, a good team that’s twice our size, and Lexis was one of the best players on the team. We had pizza to eat this game. It was always fun to stay after school for home game, I had recently learned that not all students had that luxury. I had noticed out of the corner of my eye, Lexis had not touched her food. I hated that she didn’t feel good. Whenever she was sick I would always feel down too. We were like one person. I tried everything to get her to eat. She wouldn’t though.After my failed attempt to get her to eat, we eventually migrated to the gym and started passing, not without our coach yelling at us to not get tired though. After a while Lexis and I decided to go get dressed. Her headache eventually went away, but not my worries. We got dressed and went upstairs and emerged out of the locker room. I shimmied my knee pads on my knees and started passing with Lexis. We started a volley when she hit the floor to get a ball. When she stood up I noticed that she didn’t have knee pads on. I caught the ball and stood with my hand on my hip.


“ Why did you do that?” she asked wanting to continue.
“ knee pads” I answered simply.


She put on a innocent smile and pulled them up from her ankles to her knees. I’m kinda the mom of all my friends. I don’t really mean to be I just don’t want them to do anything to where they’ll get hurt and I could have prevented it. We started volleying again when the coach yelled at us. This time she yelled for us to get on one side one the gym because the other team was getting here. As she says that I see the familiar green jerseys flash at the opening of the gym. They filed in and went into the boy's locker room on the opposing side. We always lost to Rowan County like many other sports teams, but we definitely put up a harder fight than most. The girls on the other team slowly started emerging from the locker room. Coach was telling us our line up; 15, 5, 11, 7, 1, 25. I practiced my serving until I hear the familiar sound of the buzzer. The game’s about to start. We get into our spots. I feel a zoo happening in my stomach. I don’t understand why I always get nervous, I just do. I hear the buzzing going off. That means that we need to get started warming up. My nerves hit me like they never have before. We have a new team this year because all of the 8th graders graduated, leaving three 7th graders with little experience. I glance over to Lex and see her serving. I guess that means she feels better, I thought to myself. Once again I heard the familiar sound of the buzzer signaling that the game is starting. We all file up into the spots coach told us to go. Now I was more excited for the game than dreading it. I look up and spot my friends and family. This one’s going to be a doozy.


“BALLS UP!!!” Jessica, our friend, yells.


They serve the ball first. The ball hits the floor. They scream a chant. It seems like this repeats over and over with little variation. They finally miss a hit and we have possession of the ball. I go back to serve and get an ace (no one touched it). I go back to serve again. Everything feels odd this time. The air is thinner and I get butterflies again. I hit it again and it goes over but this time they hit it up. Their setter sets it and the hitter prepare to hit it. In the split second I look over at our positions on the court. Lexis and Jaden aren’t covering well. They spike it down. I see a flash of red and white and I hear the sound of skin skid against the floor. I quickly look over to see Lexis and Jaden diving at the same time. Oh no. Lord help her. I think as I see Jaden’s knee slam into Lexis’ head. Everything stopped. The babies stopped crying, the aducince stoppped cheering. I stand like a manikin, unmoving. My breath turns shallow as I see Jaden revil a crying Lexis. I like to think that Lexis strong, but she is like a butterfly, one little hit and she’s down. Coach helps her onto the bench and the game resumes. I try to push the image of her lying in the floor out of my head, but it stays. With one of our best players out, we lost the game. When the game was over I noticed that she was gone. Most likely she had been gone for hours. I beat myself up for not giving her more of my attention. That night I did the only thing I could to help. I prayed.


The next practice I went down and I started to change. Katelynn, one of the players, asks,
“So, Lexis lost her memory?” nonchalantly


“No” I say with a duh face. “ I don’t know if that's a rumor you heard, but if it was real I would be the first one to know.”  I glance down at my phone to see if she had texted me. Nothing. I walk upstairs and start stretching with the girls. Coach walks over to tell us what we were gonna be doing next. Before she told us like she always did she broke my heart by saying, “ I know some of you may know this, but, Lexis lost her memory.” I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t cry though. Crying shows weakness. I hate showing weakness. I got up to start what coach was saying. I made the workout more gruelling than it originally was. I pushed myself through the pain. Every moment that I wanted to cry I - ran - dove - hit - harder. I expelled all my emotions through exercise. All of a sudden practice was over. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I stumbled out to my grandma’s car and got in. Before she could say anything I asked if we could go see Lexis. She had me call my mom to see if she could take me to see her.


  “Sorry Hun I can’t take you there. I have to take her and Angela food, and I can’t go all that way to get you.”
  “But Mom! I want to see her!” I broke down in tears.
As quick as the conversation started, it ended. She had to take them food so she couldn't come get me. The whole ride home I sat slumped down in my seat, silent the whole way home.


At school the next day I was a mess. Walking from band class I heard a group of people talking about how they were gonna go visit Lexis after school. I couldn’t help but being very confused by their conversation. I didn’t know that they were even friends. It sparked anger in me. It's just like they say in the books, no one cares before something happens. I facetimed Lexis when I got home that night. I asked her what she remembered. She responded with,


“ I can't remember all of 7th grade. It took forever for them to get me up. When I finally got up I asked what day it was, because I thought I had a test today. My mom responded with ‘January 7th’. I thought it was sometime in March of my 6th grade year. Then I asked her what grade I was in. She responded with ‘7th why’ And that’s when I started freaking out.”
“ I still can’t believe it.”
“I can’t either.”
Later she texted me and said her mom didn’t want me to tell her things that she forgot. I could see where she was coming from, but if Lexis asked I was going to tell her. I didn’t see the point of keeping ti from her, sure it might make her a little sad, but I know she was curious, so slowly I told her. She asked me who the people were that were texting her. I told them who they were and the relations to her. Obviously this made her upset that she couldn’t remember her friends at the time. I took this as my cue to share the happy times. I told her about how we went to a concert and couldn’t hear for the rest of the night. I told her about all the stupid things we did when we had sleepovers. I told her funny stories from school. I would never tell her about the bad times. That’s the one good thing about forgetting, you don’t have to remember the bad stuff.


The next day at school it seemed like everyone was asking if Lexis remembered them. It made me a little upset but they didn't know the harm. I only asked Lexis about one person. His name is Peyton, Him and Lexis were best friends so I felt like it was the right thing to do.  I texted her about about it and she replied with the devastating answer of no. I never pushed more. I didn’t answer any questions about him either, not only from the fact I didn’t know the answers, I didn’t want her to be upset again. I just wanted her to be happy. Later she texted me and asked me who Zane was. She said that he told her that she owed him money. He was her boyfriend. I don’t know when they broke up but let's just say the next time I saw him I wasn’t too happy.
The next day before school I found a spool of ribbon. I remembered hearing somewhere that if you wanted to remember something then you tie something around your finger, so I tied ribbon on my finger. I did this everyday till the next time I saw her. I saw her the first time in person 4 days after the incident. She walked into practice and I immediately ran to her. All of the little girls who started this year also cautiously ran to her. Sh ewas it a circle of unfamiliar faces so I walked right beside her and put my arm around her waist and said “ This is the new team.” After she got settled into the new environment, coach let her practice a few serves. She had gotten her over hand but she didn’t remember. She was doing underhand when our coach said, “ You can do over hand. Come on try it” Lexis looked at her like she was crazy but she went for it. After a few attempts she got it over. I’ll never forget the look she had on her face. She looked down at her hands and back up at the ball that was now rolling on the ground. One of our friends broke into tears at the sight. That day was the best one in my whole life.

 

***
Age 13
I enter the old monotone yellow house of my great grandmother.  I walk into the oddly colored carpeted living room where I found Lexis laying on the floor. I toss my vans over next to hers and lay down with her, and we start going through her phone’s pictures.
“You know that day that we twined?” she asked as she came upon the picture we took together.
“Yeah, what about it?”
“Who was on our shirts?” she asked.
“That’s Trevor and Ricky.”
“Ok, I was afraid you would get mad I didn’t remember.” she said looking at me with a pleading face.
“ I would never get mad at you for that.” I smiled. “Sometimes things happen that we don’t understand, but they happen for a reason. God made you forget for a reason and I’ll give you as many of my memories as you need.” 






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