I Thought I Was Going To Die This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

   Wethought we were going to die, and some of us actually hoped we would.

Itwas a scorching day in the jungles of Guatemala, and the screeches of the roosterwere driving us crazy. Flies buzzed everywhere, like we were some kind of trash.This was our third day being sick. Matt, my brother, had succumbed first, then mysister Wendy, and now me. My mom was still okay. We had only one bathroom in ourcrumbling house, and I use the word bathroom loosely because the toilet did notflush since there was only water pressure three hours a day. We had been throwingup constantly and were too weak to move any more than from the bathroom to ourroom. Sometimes Mom would just bring us a bucket. Then came the moment we haddreaded: Mom started feeling sick, too.

We were doing missionary work in asmall village with no telephone, electricity or car. Our friends were due backthat afternoon, unless the roads were impassable because of the last rainstorm.We had to make it until then.

"Mom, what if we die?" I said in aweak voice.

"We are not going to die, we all just wish wecould," she said.

Matthew was the sickest. He could barely move. Momhad to help him up, and he was much too heavy for her. The smell wasoverwhelming. We'd worn the same clothes all summer (except Sundays for church),so our clothes were dirty, which made us even sicker. We were so weak. We hadplenty of bottled water but it reappeared as fast as we drank it. We neededsomething more.

Mom told me, "Take these pills. They're the last wehave. I gave Matthew the last of the juice because he's so weak." Then shewas off, running to the bathroom.

"Mom!" I yelled. "Itsounds like a car! Maybe it's Julio!"

We all leaned up on our elbowsto try to hear better. It was the faint sound of a rickety old car. Julio!

We all gave out a weak but joyous "Hurray!"

Julio camein and grabbed his handkerchief to cover his nose. "You guys look likesomething my dog carried in from the fields. How long have you beensick?"

We all said at the same time, "Forever!" It made uslaugh, something we had not done for a long time.

Julio said,"Everyone get into my car. Stick your head out the window and try not tothrow up in my car!"

The doctors in that part of the country do nothave offices, instead they travel to wherever the sick are and whoever finds themgets the help. Julio looked worried.

"I'm going to take you to thehospital in Panahuachel," he said through the handkerchief. "You guysstink even worse than I do!" he growled.

With every twist and turn ofthe road we felt sicker, but at least we had wind on our faces.

Matthewyelled, "I think I just ate a bug!"

Julio told him not to worrybecause it was going to die a miserable death either coming up or out soonanyway. Julio always found a way to make us laugh.

"How much fartherto the hospital?" I asked.

"About three miles more than we havegas for," he said. None of us laughed.

We did finally make it to thehospital, at least what they call a hospital. Hunched over and grabbing ourstomachs, we looked like a bunch of old people. We sat on the floor while Juliolooked for a doctor. Then, one after the other, we all began throwingup.

"Watch out, Mom, it's rolling your way!" Mattsaid.

There was no place to move, so she tried to keep it from rollingtoward me by putting her arm in it.

Julio came back looking grim."There are no doctors here right now, but one should be back from anemergency soon," he sighed.

By the time the doctor arrived, we wereall lying on the floor. Julio had continued to make jokes and we tried to laugh,but it hurt too much. One by one the doctor took us into an exam room. Mom stayedwith us and held our hands. The doctor only had one clean needle. At least, wehoped it was clean, because he used the same one on all of us. He gave us eachtwo shots in the rear and told us we would have to try to find a pharmacy thatcould fill the prescriptions. The hospital only had enough medicine to give useach one dose. Mom asked if he was going to do any tests to find out what kind ofparasite we had, or what was wrong with us. He told her it didn't really matterbecause they only had one kind of medicine.

As we left, we were able tostand up, but we were all rubbing our behinds from the new pain. Julio laughedand this time we laughed with him. We definitely learned not to trust food inforeign countries, even if it were American food. Mom had always cooked for us,but we had begged her just this once to let us go to McDonald's. Obviously theirsanitary practices did not measure up to ours. Mom assured us that that was wherewe got our "bug," and so we never again asked to eat out when wetraveled in Central America.

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Copyright 2006 by Teen Ink, The 21st Century and The Young Authors Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.
Thispublication may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system ortransmitted in any form or by any means,
without the writtenpermission of the publisher: The Young Authors Foundation, Inc.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the April 2003 Teen Ink Travel Contest.

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