An Imperfect World | Teen Ink

An Imperfect World

February 5, 2021
By michelleh98 BRONZE, Johns Creek, Georgia
michelleh98 BRONZE, Johns Creek, Georgia
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

In a perfect world, Cora wouldn't have to see her mother through a video call in the hospital one year after the pandemic had started. She wouldn’t be alone in the house with only her older sister to keep her company. She could’ve been helping her mother vacuum the bedrooms upstairs while complaining how her arms were already tired or in her mother’s wardrobe trying out all of the clothes she had while her mom made remarks on which ones looked the best. She could watch her mom through the window putting up the Christmas lights even when she and her sister were too lazy to help, but now that was all taken from her. Through the screen, her mother now laid in the hospital bed, weak and feeble, unable to move.

She thought back to the Saturdays where they would always have afternoon tea. Almost always, her sister would join in and eat all the cakes, which always angered her, but her mother would only smile in her gentle way, never angry at any of us for anything.

Her mother’s labored breaths jerked Cora out of her train of thought. Cora saw her mother’s eyelids slowly open to reveal her tired eyes, drained of energy. But when her mother lifted her eyes and saw the screen, her eyes immediately lit up at the sight of her daughter. Color rushed back to her cheeks as she broke into a weak smile. It was her daughter, who she had done everything for her whole life. For their small family of 3. But her burst of energy at the sight of her daughter was slowly dwindling back down. Her energy left was getting less and less. She felt heat slowly escaping her and she shivered at the air against her exposed hands. She tried to hide the pain from Cora, but it was getting harder each second.

Through the screen, Cora saw the word “pain” written all over her mother’s face. She was no longer in the same relaxed state at the beginning of the call, instead her body seemed tense. It was all wrong. Her mother was strong. Everything was completely fine. But through unfamiliar hard breaths, her mother strained one last phrase towards her, “I love you.” and once again closed her eyes, but for the last time.

The breaths slowly came to a stop and the call went silent. Her mother’s image was peaceful. Others would’ve believed she was simply in deep sleep, but Cora knew that wasn’t the case. Nonetheless that didn’t stop her from staring in shock at the screen, silently comforting herself over and over that her thoughts were wrong. She tried to calm herself but found that she no longer had any control. Growing fear enveloped her as the thoughts of death passed by. Her heartbeat thundered through her whole body, she was sure that her older sister could hear it in the room next to hers.

Frantically, she pulled on her jacket, somehow making it out the door. Her heartbeat slammed against her ribcage, it was all she could hear despite the street full of passing cars right in front of her. Behind her, she heard the door opening as her sister poked her head out and asked what was wrong. But she didn’t want to say anything, not before she had seen it. 

She ran. Ran as fast as she could. The wind crashed against her face like waves, drawing tears from the cold. Even with her half-frozen legs, she ran as fast as she ever had in her entire life. She couldn't see anything else, couldn't hear, feel, or think of anything. All she could think of was the winter cold biting at her exposed face, the thump of her heart, the thought of going far away, and the sight of her mother's peaceful closed eyes. 

Fire burned in her lungs as she slowly came to a stop. Her legs were numb and could no longer move. She didn’t have the strength to keep going and her legs collapsed making her kneel on the sidewalk. The sun was setting by now and she was left staring at it, wondering what next. In all her life, she had never been so scared. She was always the bravest in the family, but what she had seen left her scared and vulnerable like a little two year old.

A car paused beside her, the windows slowly rolled down to reveal her worried and teary-eyed sister. She managed through the tears, “Let’s...let’s go back now.” She invited her to come on the car. 

Seeing her sister in front of her and knowing she had come to find her, Cora finally fully understood the word grateful. She was grateful that she at least still had her sister left. Left to comfort each other. With tears building up once more around her sister’s eyes, Cora obeyed and went to the door handle. It wouldn’t help to stand in the sunset, waiting for the cold night to wrap around her. With one last glance at the setting sun, she stepped into the car with one silent tear streaming down her face, warmed by the hand placed on top of hers. 

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