First I drifted off to sleep.
Then I woke up.
I heard gunshots.
I smelled smoke.
I sensed danger.
I knew I had to get out.
That is what happened when my dad set fire to my apartment building and killed all of its occupants. Except for my mom, my brother, and me. But not because he loved us. If he loved us he wouldn’t have burned down our building in the first place, ruining all of our belongings. Ruining us.
Love means nothing if the person you love doesn’t love you. Everyone in our apartment building loved my dad, but he despised them. He despised them because our building (the exception of us) was all white. My mom, brother, and I had no problem with whites. They all treated us like they treated each other. They treated Dad like they treated each other. But I guess he just thought that they treated us differently.
I am an American citizen; I was born and raised in America. The only difference is that my ancestors weren’t from America. All of my ancestors are from Cuba. As a result, I am brown. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. As long as people treat me like they treat their family/friends, I’m fine. I have had one incident, though, where I was wearing some of the old traditional clothing from Cuba. I was taking a walk with my best friend, Natalie, when this white man in a truck pulled up. He stops his truck right next to us on the road and yells, “Go back to your own country!” and then drives off. That is when I started my activism blog.
My blog is called Love You!, meaning that you should love yourself. I do one article a week, and I get a lot of positive feedback. I do a range of anything from self-care to caring for others. Like I mentioned before, most of my feedback from people is positive. But, I have definitely gotten some negative feedback from anyone and everyone. Not just whites, but blacks and browns, too. To respond, I kill them with kindness and they don’t comment on any of my articles again. Most of the time.
Where I lived, there weren’t any protests. But over in Michigan, I heard that real protesters, unlike Dad, were setting fire to buildings somewhere. I don’t know the exact location, but I believe it was definitely worse than where I was. I was scared that more buildings would get burnt down in my city. By my father, or by protesters.
After Dad burned down our apartment building, he went missing. Mom had a couple of ideas of where he might’ve run to, but we still couldn’t find him. The police went on a search for him, because he broke the law and because he was a missing person. We crossed our fingers that they would find him (so we could get justice), but they came up empty-handed.
After not finding him, Mom became even stronger than before. I could tell that she was fueled by anger. She had me get a job as a waitress, and my little brother started doing lawn work for money. We were doing well, and we found another apartment complex that we lived in. For a year and a half, we were fine just like this. Until that one day. We had just gotten back from our quick dinner at Diner Dave’s. We were all laughing and having a good time, and we were just sitting on the couch and watching an old baseball game. We were about halfway through the show when Kody (my little brother) cried out in pain. My mom and I looked at him, and he was clutching his legs. His face had agony written all over it.
“Kody! What’s wrong?” I reached out to touch his legs, but he jerked them back. He had tears running down his face and he pointed to his legs. Mom jumped up from the couch and ran to the freezer. She opened it and grabbed as many ice packs as she could. She ran back to us and started piling them on his legs. He was still crying, and after a few minutes, the ice packs weren’t doing anything. This time I got up and grabbed the heating pad from our hallway closet. I plugged it in by Kody and put it on top of his legs. It was the same as the ice packs; they did nothing.
“911. I don’t know what to do. Go grab my phone and dial 911. Hurry!”Mom urged. I had tears running down my face, but I did as I was told.
“911, what’s your emergency?” It was a woman, probably around my mom’s age. I could tell that she was tired, but this was definitely an emergency.
“My little brother. His legs. He’s wailing. Nothing will work. Can you send an ambulance?”I gushed. There was silence at the other end of the phone for a moment, and in that moment I took the phone away from my ear and put it towards Kody. After doing that, I put the phone back up to my ear.
“What’s your name and address?”the woman inquired.
“Rosy Piff. Springfield Apartment Complex. We’re number two sixteen. Second floor. Please hurry!”I cried. The woman repeated what I said and then I heard her talk to someone else.
“Help is on the way. Stay where you’re at and stay calm.” I kind of groaned and then hung up the phone. I sat Mom’s phone back down on the table and then ran back into the living room. My mom had Kody sprawled out on the couch with both the hot pad and the ice packs on his legs.
Even though I knew it wouldn’t help anything, I crouched down next to Kody and rubbed his legs. His sobs were unstoppable, and his legs were undeniably twitching. My mom just sat on the coffee table, head in her hands.
We went on like this for only a couple of minutes until we heard sirens. I could hear shouts from downstairs, and a big bang from the steps. I guess the stairs were quicker than the elevator.
It was only a minute before someone opened our door and a man pushing a stretcher burst in. Mom and I quickly stood up and got out of the paramedics’ way. We stood there and watched as the paramedics loaded our little Kody onto the stretcher. After he was completely on, all of the paramedics left except for one. She walked over to us with a worried expression.
“Do you need a ride or can you meet us at the hospital?”the woman asked. She looked like she had been in the military, she had her hair cut short in that military-way, and she had a very direct sense of tone. Mom didn’t say anything, so I guessed that I had to respond.
“We already have a ride,”I replied. The woman nodded and then left. I grabbed my mom’s hand and tugged her to face me.
“Grab your purse and your phone. I’ll drive. Our Kody will be okay,”I promised. I wasn’t sure of this, but I knew that I needed to help my mom stay sane. Mom nodded and grabbed her purse and phone, and I grabbed the car keys off of the little hook and we left the apartment.
Mom and I went down in the elevator and walked to the car. I got in the driver’s seat, Mother got in the passenger seat, and we were off.
Mom is great in pressure situations; she’s able to think of a plan fast. But when that plan doesn’t work, she’s unresponsive. She won’t talk, all she’ll do is do what she’s told. Sometimes it drives me nuts, but I go with the flow and help her.
Going to the hospital, my thoughts were chasing each other around. First I was thinking that something totally awful had happened to Kody, and then I was thinking that I was being over dramatic. I went back and forth until we were at the visitor’s entrance of the hospital. I shook my mom and she came to her senses. We got out of the car and went in the automatic sliding glass doors.
There were people everywhere, most of them looking worried, but some looked sick or angry. I searched around the waiting room and pulled my mom to two empty seats. We sat there for about five minutes until we heard Kody’s name called.
“Is anyone here for- Kody Piff?”a man called. He stood at the front of the waiting room, and I could just barely see his little name tag; his name was Benny.
I stood up and nodded at Benny. He waved to me and I told Mom to get out of her chair. She did and we walked over to Benny.
“Hello. I’m the assistant doctor. I’m assuming you’re the sister and mother of Kody Piff?” He made a gesture with his hands to us.
“Yes. I’m his mother, Jolene Piff. This is his older sister, Rosy,”Mom greeted. I looked over at her with raised eyebrows. She was finally taking control.
“It’s nice to meet you. Now, I know you want to be with your son, but… We have to run some tests, and it’s going to take a couple of hours. And with COVID-19, we would recommend it for you to go back home. We just want to keep you healthy even in these times,”Benny said. He gave us a slight smile and waited for an answer. I looked at my mom; she was in charge again, right?
“We understand. Can you just give us a call when the tests are done?”
The next day, my little brother was diagnosed with leukemia. He died within a week. I still don’t understand why. He was a healthy eleven-year-old, he never ate junk food, and he even made sure that he got a quick workout in a day. He was like an adult! But I guess he just wasn’t strong enough on the inside. At first I was upset, like anyone would be after their loved one passed away. But then I was angry. I was angry because Kody didn’t deserve to go. He had a long, successful life ahead of him, and he got it taken away. It wasn’t fair. But life isn’t fair.
After this, I extended my activism blog again. I added a section to create a local charity for leukemia patients all over the U.S.. First I just asked for volunteers, and once I had quite a few of those, I started asking for donations-no matter how small.
The very first month was a fail, but then I started putting posters up around the city. I was hoping that they would catch peoples’ attention, and that’s just what they did. I started getting donations like crazy, and soon enough I was at five hundred dollars. I knew it wasn’t much, but it was a start.
The charity kept on growing and growing, and soon I couldn’t handle it alone. So, I got my mom to help and then we were collecting even more. After a year, we were at two thousand dollars. We continued doing the charity, and I still do it now.
I lost my dad and to this day, I don’t know if he’s alive.
I lost my brother and I know that he’s gone.