by M. S.
by M. S.
My red rubber boots splashed in the muddy water as I ran, huffing and grunting. My lungs burned, each breath of air sending an icy knife into the back of my throat. I coughed and slowed down, then remembered why I was running, and started again. Why couldn’t I have long, powerful legs like my brother? That way running would be much easier. But no, I was cursed with short, weak legs, that I was surprised kept running through the busy streets, trying to get away.
I couldn’t take it any more, I had to stop. I had to take a deep breath of air, maybe a few. Then I’d keep going. Those few breaths turned into a dozen breaths, the air not so cold when I inhaled. I looked behind me and was so happy that I nearly cried. No one was there. I had gotten paranoid, thinking someone would be chasing after me, but I guess no one saw what I took. I smiled and held my jacket shut, keeping the prize hidden from everyone. It would be only for her.
I straightened up and started walking again. Now that I wasn’t in a rush, I could walk and enjoy the neighborhood. I had only passed through this part of town a few times, when my mother drove us home this way, but when construction made traffic much worse, Mom found a detour, so we started taking that route, and we still do. But now I could see the area for the first time in years. An intersection was built, and before, there had only been one street.
The further into the neighborhood I walked, the more alive it seemed, even though it was raining a little. Other people were walking around, some with dogs, others with their groups of friends. I passed two girls about my age(10). One glanced over at me and jabbed her friend in the arm until she looked at me. They started giggling and continued to watch me until I quickened my pace and ducked into a store.
Why did all the girls laugh at me? I was trying to be liked. I grew out my hair because all the girls at my school swooned over Matthew Cooke and his hair that fell in his face until he pushed it back. Was it my height? I couldn’t help that, I was lactose intolerant, I couldn’t drink milk to make my bones grow. Maybe it was my clothes. My jacket was my brother’s old one, a dirty blue with rips in the seams. My pants were a little short, but my dull red rubber boots covered my bare ankles.
I adjusted the prize in my jacket so that it wouldn’t slip out, and looked around the store. Maybe there would be something else I could get. It was a knickknack store full of painted stones used as paperweights, small dolls the size of my hands, and some necklaces. Would she like a necklace? These were too big for her neck, and too heavy. I turned around and walked out of the store.
The girls were gone, so it was just me, the prize, and the rain, and of course the occasional passerby. I had to stay on this street for, I didn’t know how long, but when I saw the large hospital, then I would know to stop. The weather began clearing up and I regained much of my energy, so I quickened my pace and jogged down the sidewalk, frequently adjusting the prize in my jacket to keep it hidden.
It got busier the closer to the hospital I got. More cars drove in the streets, more people walked around, in and out of stores. I saw the hospital entrance and all the people walking or running in and out. I ran across the street, tripped over the curb, and landed on my stomach. I scurried onto the sidewalk and pulled out the prize, checking to make sure it wasn’t broken. It wasn’t; so I put it back in my jacket and jogged into the hospital.
It was as cold in the hospital as it was outside, but I decided to ignore the temperature and race to the elevator and press the button repeatedly until the doors opened and I could step inside. It wasn’t too busy in the hospital, so I rode the elevator by myself to the ninth floor. It was quiet in the halls as I walked down them. My footsteps echoed loudly and squeaked with every step I took. I found her room and peered in. She was staring at her hands as she sat in a chair in the corner of her room. She wore a large sweater Mom had knitted, and had a blanket on her lap. She looked up when she heard my boots squeak again.
“Hey, little bro,” she said quietly, and smiled. “You just missed Mom, she went downstairs for coffee.”
“I got you something.” I walked over and opened my jacket, then handed her the prize. Her extremely thin hands grabbed it and turned it over. She smiled and then laughed.
“I bet you were made fun of for getting a New Kids on the Block record.” She smiled.
“I’d rather be a caring brother and have the whole world know, than a cool one.” I said. She handed me the record.
“Play this, please.” She gestured to the record player on the table on the other side of the room. I took the record out of the wrapping and placed it on the player. As the music played I stared at my thin sister. It confused me how girls thought getting skinnier could make them prettier. My sister was perfect, and I wanted her to know that.
“I love you.”
She smiled at me, with her big, kind eyes.
“I love you too.”