I wandered into my pantry, I wasn't hungry and yet I was scrounging for something to eat. Our pantry was small, barely even a closet. I turned to the left where we put all the grains, and grabbed a pack of ramen. After stumbling out of the pantry I shoved my ramen in a bowl and threw it into the microwave for three minutes. While I waited I sat patiently at the kitchen table. My phone lit up, buzzing on the wood next to me. It was a text from mom. It read " at hospital please come."
I stood very still looking at my phone, Hospital? I grabbed my purse and car keys, and the microwave screamed at me as I slammed the door. My car was a little blue square, honda element. I opened the heavy door to my car and let it shut behind me. I slammed my foot on the gas pedal and remembered that a manual car doesn't move without the clutch. I laughed in spite of the situation and hurried down the driveway.
I was stopped at a red light when my mom called, I connected to the aux. Her voice came on shaky and weak as if she had just been crying.
"Hey honey," she said
"Hey mom, how are you doing"
Mom hesitated for a minute, "..well...uh..it's your sister-" mom broke off. The light turned green and I jammed the gas pedal propelling my car forwards. My sister has a condition where she faints often, and occasionally loses her memory. She is usually fine but is rarely put in the hospital for just one faint, so this must be severe.
"I will be there soon mom just hang on."
"Ok" and then she hung up.
I arrived shortly and walked up to the doors of the hospital. I had to take one breath and steady myself, mom and dad needed me and I could feel emotions later. I walked in, and the stale hospital air hit me. I gagged a little, as the hospital smelled of sterile wipes and needles.
I went up to the receptionist's desk and asked for my sister's room.
"Haygood Meyers" I said
"Room 345" the lady replied after a few clicks, not looking up from her computer screen.
I walked the empty white halls, the only sound was the tap of my converse on the tile. I clutched my purse, I rounded the corner, and organized my thoughts because I was scared of what I would find in the room. I stopped at the brown door to room 345. It looked like the door to a classroom in a school, wide and chestnut colored. I knocked on the door and instead of opening it, dad flicked the door handle from the inside so it unlocked. Both mom and dad were staring at a lump of white covers.
"Haygood.." I breathed "Is she...?"
"oh no honey, no, no" mom reassured me, a sad look on her face.
"She will be fine" said dad, “Probably,” he added.
I took a deep breath
"What happened?" I asked
dad looked up at me with a melancholy look on his face "she fainted while walking home from track practice, when she woke up she couldn't remember the past……” he took a deep breath, “ five years"
"PAST FIVE!!!! WHAT?! NO! Ahggg" that's all my brain could muster" .."
then I was speechless. I took this all in, remembering to be strong for them. Once someone shed a tear then we all would release the floodgates.
I asked if I could go out in the hallway for a minute to think and they let me.
I hated hospitals. All my life happened in hospitals, I was first of all born here, then my sister was born 6 years later. After that we were in and out of the hospitals as doctors studied her condition.
I'm sure my sister hates hospitals as much as me, or maybe she doesn't, maybe it's her second home, the other half of her life and she is just used to it.
My sister is 11, she is a smiley girl who loves to read and play tennis. She is loved by everyone in school and she always is there for me. Always there to help me with anything.
Once I stayed out too late with a friend. I was scared to come home because mom would definitely kill me, and she covered for me, leaving a note on the front door for me to sneak into her bedroom window. I knocked on the window and she giggled making a funny face at me. She didn't let me in until I went to my knees and begged. She laughed unlocked the window, popped the screen and gave me a hand. When I got through the window she pretended to be mom, she put on a strict face and, while trying not to laugh, scolded me about curfew.
"You naughty daughter," she said and I chuckled because she actually sounded just like mom.
"you were out too late, give me your keys, you can only drive you and your sister to school." I stood up and looked up at her. She was 3, maybe 4 inches taller than me. She glared at me with a pretend motherly intensity
"Small child" she whispered, mocking my height. I punched her and we both laughed. I stayed in her room that night and we talked about boys and books until two in the morning.
I sighed and leaned against the cinder block wall that- like everything else- was painted a sickening clean white. It was cold against my back, and suddenly I felt a pain stab at my heart. She wouldn't remember all the times she saved me. Like the time there was a hot lifeguard at the pool.
I was talking to a friend and she noticed him. she came up to me and pointed at him, hoping I would freak out, and to her satisfaction I did. He had tan skin and nice hair, of course he knew he was attractive because he sat around all the girls in bikinis. My friend urged me to talk to him and for what every crazy reason, I walked over to him. He didn't have any interest in me until my sister came up and told me I wasn't allowed to have a boy, and that she wanted me to play with her (she was 9 at the time so she could still pull off being a baby) and so I went and played with her. Later the boy came up to me and asked for my number, and my sister said no for me. somehow she knew a guy would be attracted to a challenge, and apparently I was someone he couldn't get. The lifeguard realized I was on the swim team and he quit his job to keep the little dignity he had left, from being played by a 9 year old.
Not only did she save me from utter humiliation, she also saved me from a bad relationship. That dude turned out to have a sketchy background and bad friends. She has saved me from so many things and now I could do nothing to save her. I slid my back down the wall, the weight of my grief and body were too much. I sat still for a while until a nurse asked if I was ok, I had been crying. I couldn't handle this alone so I stood up and walked to the brown hospital door.
"mom" I whimpered
she saw the tears on my cheeks and stood up to hug me. I shook in her arms.
"oh honey" she repeated over and over "oh honey" until she was also shaking unable to speak through sobs. Dad joined us and we hugged and wept. We sat down and talked about all the time she had been there for us. We each took turns crying.
After about three hours when mom and dad were sleeping, I heard a peep and rushed over. Haygood woke up. I called mom and dad.
"Hey hey" she said weakly, " don't do that they are sleeping"
"hmmm" was all I could say.
"sooo.....what happened" she said so nonchalantly. I was thrown off by her ability to be so easy going at a time like this, it kind of angered me.
"well you... uh...um"
"did I forget again?"
I didn't understand how she was so mature about this, I thought she would have the mentality of a six year old.
"well yes" I said
"How much" she asked quietly
"five years" I replied
We were both silent for a while but then she said something that gave me hope.
"I don't think so"
"what?! Really" I jumped out of my chair "how can you tell"
"well.." she seemed to consider this " I remember bits of 6th grade and fifth grade."
"what do you remember?" I asked eagerly
"ahhh sis I don't know, it's early and my brain can't work."
I held my tongue and did not point out that it was late, not early.
"what do you remember best"
"Hmm, well when we play superheroes" she smiled. That's my most recent memory, which doesn't make sense. Anyway, you were Captain Sock man, and I was Mr tickles." it was my turn to smile. She looked up at the ceiling and closed her eyes. I figured I would let her sleep but instead she said
"have you come to save me again Captain Socks?" then she drifted off.
My heart dropped in my chest, my gut clenched, and pain screamed through my brain. I hung my head in my hands and quietly sobbed. I couldn't save her, I could only watch her deteriorate. I couldn't do anything for her. I couldn't watch her anymore. I felt guilty but I could not just sit at the hospital and watch her fade. I left a sticky note for mom and dad saying I would be at home and to call me if anything went wrong.
I stood up, grabbed my bag and walked towards the door.
"Grace" Haygood called my name "Grace" she called again. tears welled in my eyes.
"I know it's hard to watch me forget like this, and it's fine if you go home, I know how you hate hospitals, but will you do something for me?"
"Anything Mr tickles" I replied softly, she giggled at my reference to our childhood game.
"Will you wish on a star for me, so mom and dad don't have to be in so much pain."
I choked up, ".....yeah....yes..yes of course I will." I stayed by her bed a little longer until she told me to go get some sleep and practically begged me to go because she knew how little I could handle this situation.
I stood and slowly shuffled to the door, then down the hallway, then to my car, and somehow the next thing I knew I was fishing my keys out of my purse. I found them jammed them into the car and drove away as fast as I could. I slowed down a little, because I could not concentrate on driving. At one point I pulled over because I couldn't see the road through my tears.
I got out of my car, after parking it on the side of the road, and climbed up to the roof. I stared at the sky, few stars twinkled in the city lights. In Fact there were so few I could count them.
One time on a family vacation me and Haygood snuck out at night and sat on the top of my car. We were at the lake so we could see so many stars. Haygood tried to count them but I told her It was no use, because God made them physically uncountable. She tried anyway. We laid down on our backs and traced creatures in the sky that appeared when we connected dots. We did this till our arms hurt and then we talked about movies, and quoted our favorite ones. We fell asleep right there, on top of my little honda element.
I watched the 148 stars in my vision, until I wished on one. I knew it was cheesy and just a myth, but I wished that the person who always came to my aid, who was my super hero, would be saved. Even though I knew it was unlikely I wished anyway, I wished so hard until my head hurt. At one point I got back into my car and drove home.
I pulled into our dark driveway and slammed my car door as I got out. Then I shuffled to the house door. When I opened the door the microwave welcomed me with annoying screams. I smashed my finger against the off button and found my bowl of ramen, cold and soggy. I sat at the same kitchen table I started at, thinking through the events of the night. Sure it's not like she's gonna die -hopefully- but still she forgot all our moments, our inside jokes, our late car rides and morning ones too. I slumped into a seat and cried again, I felt like a cry baby, but tell me, what do you do when your beloved sister will one day forget you?
My phone started buzzing and I pulled it out of my pocket. It was mom. I wiped my tears, took a deep breath, and answered the call.
Mom sounded so relieved so happy, bursting with joy on the phone
"hey mom," I said "what's up?"
"It's your sister"