I'd never seen so much blood in my life, not even when I gashed my knee in Kindergarten recess last year. The blood just kept coming and coming. It didn't help that we were on a camping trip and couldn't find a hospital anywhere.
"Mom, is Andrew ok? He was really bloody," I asked.
"He's going to be fine, honey. He just gashed his face a little." I knew she was lying to me. My mom never lied- she always told us not to.
"Mom, I'm scared." I told the truth.
I turned and chose a seat in the waiting room and grabbed a magazine. As I looked around, I noticed the small size of this hospital. Hallways extended out on both sides of me, one leading to a closed door, the other to a set of rooms where my family was. I was so close to them, why did I have to wait out here? I took one more glance around the room. I couldn't stop thinking about what was happening to my brother. He had been climbing on an antique tractor that was on display in the campground. Andrew had some neurotic need to explore anything that he didn't understand. Tractors, for instance, fascinated him. Maybe it was their loud noise or their massive size- who knows. He was also a chronic wanderer. Trips to the grocery store weren't complete without him getting lost. It was always up to me to find him, just like I did when he fell off of that tractor.
I suddenly felt eyes on me and looked up to see a couple staring at me. I quickly shut the Reader's Digest and began to walk toward the rooms that took my family. I reached room 206 and feebly pushed the door. As it opened, I felt my eyes enlarge and my pulse run mad. My brother's screams filled my brain and overwhelmed my senses. He was surrounded by people, screaming back at him to hold still. Each of my little brother's arms or legs were being held down by nurses or our parents. I couldn't see my their faces, but my brother's was horrifying. His eye was swollen shut, filled with blood from the wound that lie just above his cheekbone. Tears covered the other half of his face as he continued to scream. The doctor who held the needle saw me and made a sweeping motion to the nurses assisting him. Suddenly it was gone. I couldn't see anything else.
I ran to my seat and held back a wave of tears that made my throat burn. I closed my eyes and tried to fill my mind with happy thoughts. It's ok, we're going to go back to the campground and go boating, just as planned. Andrew's going to be fine. It's all going to be fine. I couldn't get what I just saw out of my head. Any angry or bitter feeling I had ever had against Andrew, my brother, left me at that instant. I just wanted him to be out of that room and not experience any more pain. He wasn't a bad kid. He just didn't think sometimes. With my eyes still shut tight, I imagined the four of us out on a boat, having fun like nothing had ever disrupted our family camping trip.
Suddenly I felt a hand on my back. I jerked out of my "solitude" to see my mother, looking tired but less pale than before. "It's time to go," she said to me. I looked around for Andrew. He was at the receptionist's desk and she was handing him some candy; I still couldn't see his face. My dad was smiling and looking down at Andrew. His little head of blond hair was ruffled and mussed from laying on the hospital bed. I could feel myself walking toward him when he finally turned around. Shock ran threw me. His face was a mess of crimson, blue, and yellow bruising. Stitches zigzagged across his upper cheek, dangerously close to his left eye which was still swollen shut. He smiled at me, causing his face to wrinkle together because of the swelling and bruises. It scared me; he didn't look like he should. He didn't look normal.
We walked to the car and I was afraid to sit next to him. It was as though somewhere deep in the recesses of myself I somehow thought that if he touched me then I would become bruised and bloodied too. He offered to share some of his candy with me. I shook my head without looking at him. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see him withdraw his outstretched hand.
"Elise," he said quietly, "I'm just hurt a little. That's it."
I turned to look at Andrew, his good eye searched my face. I smiled at him and took the piece of candy he offered me. Everything is fine, everything is back to normal.
When we finally got back, we unloaded our boat into the lake. Andrew begged our dad to let him drive the boat, just for a little while. He hoisted Andrew onto his lap and let him steer as we rode off. My mom was laughing again and Andrew didn't even seem to notice the stitches in his face. I realized that we were all forcing ourselves to bury the disruption that had overtaken us. Everything is fine, everything is back to normal.
Last fall, I took an expository writing class while I was completing my English degree. I probably wouldn't have taken it if I had any other choice, but I didn't. Not only did we have to churn out several creative writing drafts a week, but we had to read them aloud to the class and receive their on-the-spot critique. Let me just tell you, that sounded like my worst nightmare. This was the first piece that I wrote for that class; we had to combine a childhood memory with tension prose, so I wrote about a traumatic experience my family and I encountered on a family vacation many years ago.
In this short story, there are three elements that are being examined: our innocence, our sense of reality, and the ideals we hold that help us get through life. My brother, in this story, represents our unabashed innocence. By that, I mean our endless curiosity, our sense of wonder and excitement about the world we are a part of. My place in the story serves as the truthful acceptance of reality, no matter how grim it may be at any given moment. My parents, specifically my mom, highlights our coping mechanism that tells us what we need to hear to get through a crisis. The tension derives from where these three aspects converge during our lifetime. Which do we let take over? Do we lose our sense of childlike innocence as we go through life? The story ends on a note of uncertainty because those are questions that don't have a definite answer.
On a brighter note, my best friend gave birth to a baby boy this morning! This is her and her husband's first baby and I cannot wait to meet the little guy. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!