My Sweet Brother

Submitted into Contest #137 in response to: Write a story about a scientist.... view prompt

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Science Fiction

My Sweet Brother

Tomorrow is Sunday. Tomorrow I am scheduled to die. 

But, not today. Today is Saturday. Today, I will race. Today, I will be free for the first time in nearly twenty-three years. I am about to run in the biggest marathon in the country and I owe it all to my big brother, Albert. 

I love running. Since I was old enough to walk, all I did was run. I ran all over the house, from room to room. I ran to and from my school. Three blocks! I ran on the playground, the sidewalks, the old dirt road behind our church, and in the woods behind our house. If there were enough room to run, I would run. 

One morning when I was ten, I was running to school and was struck by a drunk driver. I remember instantly losing the feeling of my legs and then everything else. I remember them loading me onto the helicopter as Life-Flight took me to the big hospital in the big city. My brother was there with me the whole time, holding my hand, assuring me everything would be okay.

But everything was not okay. From that day until early this morning I had been on life support. I had no chance at living a life off a machine until my sweet brother changed all that. 

I hear the announcer say, “runners get ready.” My heart is pounding as I set my feet. The gun fires. I take off. It feels great to be running again, like a dream. As my feet glide across the pavement, I can’t help but think of all the sacrifices Albert has made for me. He gave up his social life to visit me everyday in the hospital. He gave up his dream to be an engineer to become a scientist in hopes of saving me. He has devoted his life to caring for me. I don’t think a brother could love a sister any stronger than he loves me.  

Although, Albert hasn’t always been this way. Before the accident, he was awful. He did the normal older-brother things like calling me names, taking my toys until I cried, but he did worse things too. He changed my shampoo and conditioner for glue. Shaved my eyebrows in my sleep. Posted my diary on facebook. I loathed him. That is, until my accident.

After that, he changed and so did my feelings toward him. Now he is a well-respected scientist and has developed a machine that has me here running this race. I could not be happier.

As I approach mile marker six, I think about how every day when Albert would visit he would tell me,“I haven’t found a cure yet, but hang in there, what’s one more day.”

“What’s one more day?” he would say. He had a point. It wasn’t like I was going anywhere. That is, until the insurance company could no longer cover my life support. 

Last month the hospital gave me a thirty day notice, like I was a tenant getting evicted from a rental property. Albert was furious. He vowed to fix it that day. That was the last day I saw him until yesterday morning. 

As he walked in my room I was terrified that he was going to say, “I haven’t found a cure yet, but hang in there, what’s one more day.”

“What’s one more day?” had taken on a whole new meaning. This time I only had one more day.

But that was not at all what he said. Instead, he said gleaming, “I did it, Anna, I found a way to give you your life back. At least for a day.” 

I couldn’t move or respond, but I could listen. I looked into his eyes and my vision blurred as it filled with tears. I didn’t know what he had done and why it was only for a day, but I didn’t care. 

“It’s going to be okay,” Albert said, wiping a tear from my cheek. “I have signed up for the marathon run for tomorrow.”

At first, I thought this was a cruel joke, that he had reverted back to his days of being mean. Why would he be bragging about running a marathon the day before I was scheduled to die? I felt red hot. My tears continued to fall, but no longer were they tears of happiness. I became more angry as he continued to brag.

“I’ve been training for the past three years” he gripped my hand with his as he continued, “I have the endurance and speed to finish first in my age group.”

Albert was sixteen years older than me. Even though I wanted to throat punch him, I was still impressed. Then with his next breath, he washed away my anger and filled my heart with great joy. 

“I built a machine that can swap our souls, placing me in your body and you in mine“, he leaned in and kissed my forehead. “I have been training for you, so you could run the race, perhaps even win it.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. Was he being serious? 

He pulled a small gray contraption out of his briefcase. “In the morning you will wake up in my body and I will be in yours,” he said as he reached over and plugged the tiny machine into my heart monitor.  

A blue fluid flushed through the tubes in my veins and I quickly fell asleep. Next thing I knew I was in my brother’s body. I could move again, I could sit up on my own, I could turn my head, I could talk, and most importantly, I could run. 

My brother had gotten in great shape. Such great shape I felt like I could run forever. 

“Thank you, Albert, this is the best gift ever.” I said, kissing my own forehead. “I’ll see you tonight.”

What a great day, I thought, crossing the finish line. I won first place in my brother’s age group and I felt like I could run even longer. As they placed the medal around my neck, all I could think was I can’t wait to show Albert. He did it. He made this day possible. 

I grabbed a bottle of water and his jacket and headed back toward the hospital. For the first time ever, I didn’t want to run. I wanted to take my time. I wanted to soak in every last second of this day. I was sad that this day would soon be over, but I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my last day on earth. I truly had the best brother a sister could have. 

The wind became violent as I made my way up the street. I put on Albert’s coat and thrusted my hands into the pockets. My right hand rubbed against something inside the pocket. I pulled it out to see an envelope with my name written on the front. It was written in my brother’s handwriting, but he didn’t mention it last night. Maybe it was something he was going to read me after we swapped back. At first, I was going to wait, but then I decided to go ahead and read it for him. 

Dear Anna,

I hope today was the best day. I hope it was everything you had ever dreamed. I owe this day to you. After all, I’m the reason you're in the condition you are in. I never told anyone this before, but I was the drunk driver. Now that you have had your day, maybe I can go on living without the guilt I have carried for so long. 

Goodbye, Albert.

I can’t believe what I just read. I’m frozen. My hand on the hospital room door. A lump growing in my throat. A tear trickles down my cheek. Quickly, I regain my composure. Albert is sorry. He spent his life working as a scientist to give me this moment. One last day. He earned my forgiveness. I pause before turning the knob. I’m frozen for what seems like an eternity. I turn from the door and stare down the large open hallway. A smile takes over my face. I run toward the exit. What’s one more day, I thought. 

March 16, 2022 14:43

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1 comment

Douglas Wright
01:45 Mar 24, 2022

WOW, I did not see that coming! You did a great job there, in so few words. Super-impressed over here!


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