Did you ever wish you could go back in time? I bet you did. I know I want to. I won’t ask for a lot of time, but I’d give half of my life to get back to the day before I received my older sister’s call, no, even just fifteen minutes ago would be enough, because then I wouldn’t be trembling as I get up from the ground and I weakly pushed through the gathering crowd watching her unrecognizable bloody face. The face of a twenty-six-year-old woman, who was begging me to hear her out a moment before this happened.
The driver, who would have run me over if she didn’t step out of the road and pushed me, was crying and panicking. Some were pointing fingers at him, blaming him for being an irresponsible driver, while others lamented my sister’s fate. It wasn’t the driver’s fault, I was the one who stepped into the crosswalk without glancing at the upraised hand.
Someone not far from me called 911 and explained the location on his cellphone, others called their friends, family, and whoever they want to tell about the horrible accident. Yes, to them it was just an accident, to me, it was a nightmare.
I felt boneless as I walked the two-foot distance between me and my sister. A woman was filming herself with my sister’s lifeless body behind, lost her phone when I tip over. Her phone hit the asphalt and the cracked screen receive bigger damage when my sharp heels dug at the center of it. She shriek and grabbed my shoulder. “Look what you did!” she said.
I kneel beside my sister. “Hey, wake up,” I said.
The woman who own the phone gripped my arm. “Are you crazy? She’s obviously dead. Pay me for my phone and compensation for ruining my perfect video...”
The woman’s voice faded in the background, some people might have dragged her off, I don’t know, I was too busy spewing out curses at my sister to even feel that her hand was pried off my arm. When my sister remained immobile tears flooded my eyes. I reluctantly reach for her arm, she was warm. She was alive. Dead people are cold right?
“Melody, hey, Melody.” The name felt foreign on my tongue. It has been many years since I last said her name out loud. The last time was when she left the house when I was eleven years old. “Hey, stop laying there,” I said.
I didn’t recognize my voice, it sounded like something that belong to a kid, I feel like a kid again, begging her to stop fooling around, as if everything she doing now was just one of her acts. She used to do this a lot to distract me from the trouble inside the house.
We grew up in a noisy home, and our parents fought daily. They’d lock the room of their bedroom, but we can hear their shouts through the walls and I remembered growing up looking at Melody’s crying face each time. When I was old enough to understand what was happening it hit me hard. The fighting and the silence that followed terrified me and left me aching in places my young heart couldn’t locate. I stuttered when I started to speak and instead of understanding me, my parents fought even more and blamed each other, and I developed an anxiety disorder.
I don’t know exactly when Melody started it, but I know how it started.
My parents were, as usual, fighting, walls banging and things were breaking in their room. I was at the peak of my fears and terror running around without direction when I found Melody on the floor of the living room, her eyes closed, and there was red stuff was dripping all over her face and arms.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Bleeding and dying. Help me,” she said in a croaky voice. I raise an eyebrow. She was a seven grader, she couldn’t possibly think that I will believe her, especially not with an empty ketchup bottle not far from her.
“It’s ketchup,” I said.
She sat up. The ketchup that trailed down her eyelid, she wiped it and said in a hard voice, “It's blood!” before laying back.
It was so comical I chuckled. I stepped closer and swipe the ketchup on her cheek with my forefinger and licked it. “It’s ketchup.”
I almost jump up as her eyes opened wide and said, “Now that you’ve tasted the blood of the dead, we’re going to be zombie sisters!”
I ran away screaming and laughing as she chased me around.
Later, when our mother found the splattered ketchup all over the place, Melody was scolded, I felt sorry for her because I understood why she did it. I felt angry at my mother’s mean words, for the first time while she was chasing me, I forgot about my parents, but mom was scolding my older sister for it. However, I was a coward and couldn’t defend her from my mother. The guilt almost made me hyperventilate, but in the middle of getting reprimanded, Melody caught my eyes and winked at me. My heart beat slowed at the sight of her looking at me and I know right there, that I’ve got the best sister in the world.
However, all my love for Melody crumbled when our parents divorced. She was eighteen by then and deemed legal to be on her own if she wished, but I was left in my mother’s custody. I wanted to be with her but she couldn’t take me.
I hated Melody for leaving me with our mother, and it only grows after our mother remarried shortly after her divorced, then mom had a son with my stepfather and I felt like an outsider inside the house.
Melody tried to keep in touch but I rejected her. I was in my puberty, I was troubled both mentally and emotionally and I stupidly blamed it all on my older sister who I thought wasn’t there for me anymore. Now, at nineteen, and watching her, her face a realistic version of her teenage self, I realized how stupid I’ve been. I can’t live without her. I know that now. Something snapped inside me and a dam broke, my eyes flooded with tears as our life together flash in my mind. I screamed her name to God and begged her to wake up. “I won’t ever reject you again, so please Melody, get up!”
Someone tapped my shoulder. “Calm down, the ambulance should be here soon.”
“Your girlfriend will be alright, just believed in it,” someone else said.
It was kind words but I growled at them. “She’s my older sister! And how do you know she’ll be alright? Did you talk to god? And the ambulance? Do you think they’ll be able to save her with this traffic and you people are watching like this is some kind of public show?”
Some people walked away with annoyance. Some give a sympathetic nod before leaving, others stayed and took my word kindly and still tried to comfort me.
The ambulance arrived. I was guided to the passenger seat in the front of the car as the paramedic personnel thought I was too emotional to be with the patient. Melody was rushed to the ER. My parents arrived, I don’t know who called them. I ignored them both and pushed them off when they tried embracing me. The last thing I remembered was the loud ringing in my ears as the doctor walked out shaking his head and told us, “I’m sorry.”
The next days felt unreal. Not a single tear dropped from my eyes during the funeral. I don’t even remember most of the people who told me “my condolence” or the chatter about my sister. I don’t care how much of an angel, a prankster, or a good friend she was. I just want her back from the dead.
The night after the funeral I bought so much drink that a big man would be rushed to the hospital for alcohol poisoning, but I gulped down one bottle after another without stopping until I blocked out.
I woke up the next day with a splitting headache. My eyes hurt from the sudden stream of sunlight when my yapping mother pushed my window curtains open.
“What are you doing in my dorm?” I asked.
“Dorm? Your room in my house is your dorm?” She looked out of the window and went on. “You were out drinking with your friends again. I saw that boy sneaking out last night. Who is it this time huh?”
I rubbed my throbbing head. “What boy?”
“Oh don’t play games with me. I’m not blind.”
You are! My mind replied and I paused before saying it. I was hit with a strong sense of déjà vu. The room wasn’t the only familiar thing, but the situation and the words. This already happened before, I concluded.
I looked at my mom who tied the curtain and thought of the next thing she will say when she faced me “If you can’t follow my rules get out of my house and see how long you’ll survive.”
My mom turn to face me and said those exact words. I scampered out of my bed and looked at the full-length mirror and almost burst into tears when I saw my reflection. Green and pink short hair, black lipstick, hard dark eye shadows, multiple ear piercing, and layered of accessories around my neck and wrist. I wore black and white clothes on me. It was the look I stop wearing after I turned eighteen and lived in my college dorm. Then the memories return, Melody’s accident, the funeral, the hurt I felt as I drink myself to sleep. I stare at myself in disbelief. “I’m sixteen.” Again.
My mother huffed. “Exactly. You’re sixteen. You should have the decency to start thinking about—”
I grabbed my phone and rushed out of the door and down the stairs. I nearly ran over my four-year-old brother in the corridor. I ruffled his hair and his face lit up into a smile. I never showed him any affection before but that’s going to change starting today. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know if I only dreamed everything that happened, but one thing was for sure, the feeling of losing Melody was the most horrible feeling. I don’t want to experience it ever again.
I dialed Melody’s number as soon as I was out of the house.
“Hello?” Melody answered after two rings. I know she have my number saved, but it was office time so she probably didn’t know I’m the one who called. I can hear her tapping on the keyboard.
“Melody,” I said. The typing stopped and a choking sound come from her. I feel like crying too knowing she was alive and on the other line. “Melody before you say anything I want to tell you how sorry I am for avoiding you and refusing to meet you,” I then rushed to explain everything, my fears, my worries, and my unreasonable hate toward her.
“Slow down. Let’s met today okay? Can we have dinner together?”
“I’d love that.”
“Okay, then let’s meet at the smiling shrimp.” It wasn’t a real place. Smiling shrimp was a name we called the restaurant two blocks away because of their mascot.
She sniffed and laughed. I smiled. “Stop crying and laughing. They’ll think you’re nuts.”
“I can’t help it. You’re finally talking to me. I thought I’d have to fake death to make you talk to me again.” She laughed. I stiffened. The sticky blood dripping down every hole her in head and her mangled limbs were too fresh in my memory. It may have been a dream but it felt real.
“That’s not funny,” I said.
Her laughter stopped. “Sorry.”
“Melody, please listen to me. I don’t know how to explain this, but I dreamed that you died.” She remained silent and so I went on and summarized the next three years of my memory slash dream, leading up to her death.
“So, you’re saying that you hated me so much, that you didn’t want to be my maid-of-honor or even attend my wedding?”
I nodded, then I remembered she can’t see me and said, “Yeah. I’m sorry.”
Melody laughed. “You silly girl. You don’t need to be sorry. It was just a dream. And if that ever happened, just know that I’m happy to have at least protected you in the end.”
I sighed. “But promised me that you’ll prevent it from happening.”
“It’s just a dream, relaxed—”
“Okay, I promised,” she said. I can almost picture her raising her palm up. I told her the date, time and location even though I know she was just placating me with her “um” and “uhuh” before making me promise to show up at the restaurant. I promised her but as I made my way to my bedroom a wave of dizziness came over me. It was only a few minutes left before my date with Melody but I collapsed on my bed.
The next time I opened my eyes, I was in a white room, with a white bed, and a white curtain, everything was white except for ugly paintings on the wall.
“Oh, you’re awake, good.”
I turn to the owner of the masculine voice. A man in a nurse uniform. “Am I in the hospital?”
“Yes,” he replied writing on the pad in his hand, then tucked the ballpen in his pocket before pointing at my head, “You got lucky to get away with just a concussion.”
“What? I hit my head?”
“Yeah, you did.”
The door opened and twenty-six-year-old Melody walked in. She dropped the bouquet of flowers and rushed to my side. The nurse, silently excused himself as Melody burst into tears. “Oh my god, oh thank god you’re awake. You have no idea how much you scared me.”
I raise my hand up in a stop sign. “Okay, hold on. Why do you look like your twenty-six-year-old self?”
Melody paused. “Because I’m twenty-six?”
“What!” I winced as my head throbbed. What’s happening? “Aren’t I suppose to be sixteen? And weren’t we supposed to eat dinner after that phone call? Wait, what time is it? Why am I here?”
A bittersweet smile appeared on Melody’s face. She moved toward the bouquet of flowers on the floor and arrange it on the table beside the window. Her voice was filled with pain as she said, “You never came to that dinner and you never answered my calls or ever meet me at all after that call. I never give up and finally, you answered my call two days ago, but as expected you turn me down, so I went to meet you yesterday. I waited outside your college campus to personally talk to you that even if you don’t want to be my maid-of-honor, I want you to at least be at my wedding. It’s a special day of my life, and I want the most special person to be there, even if you hate me.”
Melody faced me, her face was marred with mixed emotions. “But as we exchange words on the sidewalk, I remembered what you told me on the phone when you were sixteen, and the promise you made me do. Thanks to that, I was able to keep my promise. I prevented the accident in your dream, I’m just sorry that I pulled you too hard you slammed into the pole of the traffic light.”
My tears were falling like rain now and Melody's eyes were the same. We’re sisters alright. We’re both crybabies.
We talked for hours and speculated how I woke up in the past or why I remembered her death in the accident. Was it real or a premonition? It will forever be a mystery without answers, but one thing was for sure, it happened, and I’m so happy Melody was here with me. I’m so honored and proud to be her maid-of-honor and watch her glowing smile as she walked down the aisle, right after our seven-year-old brother running lively and standing beside me with a grin.
As Melody passed before placing her hand on my future brother-in-law’s hand, she gave me the sweetest smile and winked at me, reminding me of my childhood that I will forever treasure as we move into the next phase of our life.