Gerard is re-emitted to the hospital from a near-death drug dose, where he meets Shelby Winters. Gerard thinks his life is bad, but then he discovers Shelby's life story: created because her siste...
"Shelby? Are you ready to go?"
I sat on my bed, hugging my stuffed turtle to my chest. Yes, I'm seventeen, and yes, I do take comfort in my stuffed turtle, Speedy. I've had Speedy since I was a child - actually, my father bought it for me the day I was born - and he's still in excellent shape. Well, if you ignore the giant dark green patch on his stomach. My dog had ripped the belly of my turtle open, and my father, being the great guy he is, tried to fix it. Too bad he got the wrong shade of green for the patch, but, like everyone always says, it's the thought that counts.
I took a deep breath. "Yeah, I'm coming mom," I yelled back down to her. I was going to the hospital to visit my sick sister, Rochelle. Coincidentally, my mother says, the nurse is going to be there to take my blood. Again.
With my over-night bag in my hand (because when the blood-taking nurse is there, I am obviously staying overnight), I kept Speedy clutched under my arm as I left my room. My mom was standing by the front door, just by the landing of the stairs. "Shelb -" She stopped when I appeared around the corner of the stairs. A tired smiled swept over her face, and she held her hand out to me.
"Come on, love. Let's get ready to -" She stopped and looked over my shoulder at the bag strapped to my back. "Shelby, you don't need your overnight bag. We're only going to visit tonight."
That was the least convincing lie she's ever tried to feed me. Even so, I could tell she wanted me to believe it, which is why I withdrew my hand from hers like she had coated it in hydrochloric acid. "Conveniently, Nurse Barbara is going to be there. I know I'll be there until at least tomorrow," I told her, my voice holding a hint of venom. She looked apologetic, but I just didn't feel like hearing any of her excuses. "Save it mom," I told her, "I'm not a little kid anymore."
I ignored her attempt to get me to stop as I made my way to the car. If it were anyone else but my sister, I wouldn't be going. But it's Rochelle, my own flesh and blood. I have to. It's my duty.
The car ride to the hospital was quiet. I watched the shadows from the streetlamps pass over my mother's face from my peripheral vision. "Listen Shelby, I know you don't like going to the hospital all the time, but..." I could hear the conviction in her voice, but I could also feel that there was something lacking in her voice. Something that needed to be there for me to believe she had my best interest in mind as well as my sister's.
There more I sat in waiting, the more I realized one thing: my mother didn't know that something. She didn't have it. I knew this because all the decisions she's made as of late have been about Rochelle. It's always about Rochelle. Today I'm donating blood. What will tomorrow bring? A kidney donation? I don't know if I can handle all of this. I'm supposed to be seventeen and deciding whether to go to the beach; not thirty-seven and wondering if my cheque bounced for the electrical bill.
A wave of emotions suddenly overcame me. If I didn't go through with this, Rochelle could die. Mom wasn't a blood match, and neither is dad. Jason... well, let's just say I'm not quite sure if my older brother is even alive. He left ten years when I was seven. Even if he was alive, which I'm really starting to doubt, I think it's highly unlikely that he'd be a blood match.
My simple deduction came from this logic: I was conceived to be a perfect blood match for my sister Rochelle. I was born with a pre-planned future, which was to save Rochelle's life. My parents obviously didn't consider me in this equation, because if they had, I just know things would be different. However, getting back on topic, if Jason had been a match to Rochelle, my parents would have no need to conceive me. I'd just be a soul, floating around in the universe until I found out my purpose of even becoming a soul. If there was that purpose.
So I guess, in a way, I owe Rochelle my life for getting sick; and I owe Jason for not being a match. However, I'm also in my everlasting hell because of them. It's because of them that I'm seventeen, and have never spent more than a week at school. It's because of them that I've never had a boyfriend, much less kissed or even held hands with one. I don't know what the latest trend is fashion wise, and I don't know if music is as popular as it was when Rochelle went into remission, and I got the chance to someone about music who didn't seem to live at the hospital.
When my mom and I got to the hospital, I was out of the car and walking towards the entrance before she had even turned the transmission off. I know I was pissed off, and I know that it isn't helping my mom with her current state of mind. I know, somewhere, deep down inside, my mother cares about what happens to me. I think sometimes it just gets overlooked when it comes to Rochelle.
"Hi Shelby." I waved to the receptionist of the hospital. Her name was Mary, and she was pretty. She was young, in her third year of university, and was working part-time as one of the receptionists of the hospital.
I gave her a crooked smile, and continued on my way. I had a room reserved for me for when I needed to make weekly trips to the hospital for Rochelle. I could hear my mother's heels clipping against the linoleum floor as she ran to catch up to me. When she did, she put a hand on my shoulder to stop me. I did, and allowed her to turn me around.
She placed her other hand on my other shoulder, and bent down a bit so she was staring right into my eyes. "Shelby, please don't be like this in front of Rochelle. You know she feels bad about you coming around here every time she needs a lymphatic cell transplant."
I knew my mom was right, and when I looked down at my feet, my mom knew she had won also. "Thanks love," she said, kissing my forehead in a motherly way. "Your father and Rochelle are currently watching television in there, so feel free to join them until your room is ready."
And by room, she means wait until Nurse Barbara is ready to steal your lymphatic cells. As I told my mother before, I'm not a little kid anymore.
She gave me a loving smile, which I've noticed she only give me when I'm about to donate something to Rochelle, and quietly ushered me into my sister's room.
My sister and father looked up from they were watching. They were watching Rochelle's favourite soap opera. Rochelle became addicted to them three years ago when she used to spend weeks at the hospital, and soaps were the only thing on television.
My father gave me a smile, and placed his newspaper on Rochelle's bed as he stood to embrace me in a hug. I ducked from the hug, placed my bag on the floor, and climbed up along side my sister.
"How are you Shelby?" my father asked once I was comfortable beside Rochelle. I looked over at Rochelle, to see her completely avoiding looking at me. I mean, usually I get a nod because she doesn't have the strength to speak, but this time, it was like she physically didn't have the will to even look at me.
"It depends on how Rochelle's doing," I mumbled quietly, looking at my older sister hopefully. She turned her head to look at me, almost like she didn't know I had been there. I gasped at what I saw. Her skin was so sickly looking, I thought she had jaundice, and she looked like she had been crying. Hard.
"I'm good," she whispered, her voice raspy, her smile forced. My next action was the only thing I could think of. I buried my head in her shoulder, and refused to move while I held back the tears.
After five minutes, I heard my father's voice. "Shelby, there's something we all really have to talk about."
Oh no. Something else of Rochelle's was failing, and I'd need to give more than just my blood. Or even worse: something of Rochelle's was failing, and I wouldn't be able to save her.
I looked up, knowing my eyes were probably red and puffy, on account of the fact I had lost the fight against my tears. I saw my mom standing beside my mother. Her face was clear, and void of any emotions. That's what really broke me. My mother didn't look like she cared.
I jumped off Rochelle's bed, and dashed out of the hospital room, ignoring my father's helpless cries for me to come back.
The tears blinded my vision as I ran down some hall in the hospital. The hospital staff ignored me, because it was probably normal to see someone running down the hall completely hysterical because of grief.
Pretty soon, I was winded from all the running I had been doing. I stopped at a water fountain, and took a nice long drink of the refreshing liquid. Once I was done, expertly cupped some water in one hand, and awkwardly splashed it over my face. Taking a deep breath, I turned so my back was against the wall and slid to the floor. I felt too tired to keep crying; I was always crying. However, every time I think about my mother, tears just start their everlasting descent down my cheeks.
I pulled my knees up to my chest, and just began sobbing. I couldn't do this. I didn't need anymore bad news in my life. As I was sobbing, I heard footsteps approaching me. I looked up, sniffing a little too loudly for my liking, and just peeked out over the wall my arms had created.
A pair of black shoes stopped in front of me. They weren't my father's... my father didn't wear shoes like that. So, coming to the conclusion that it wasn't any man I knew, my back went rigid from the fright.
"I've always hated hospitals." I looked up at the voice. He didn't sound like a child molester. (Not that I was a child, but you catch my drift.) He had short, wind-swept black hair, and nice hazel eyes. What really got me was the smile. His smile was inviting, and wasn't fake. It wasn't like my mother's. He wasn't smiling to be polite; he was smiling because he wanted me to smile.
I chocked on my tears as I let out a small laugh. "You have no idea how much I agree with you on that."
A silence overcame us, and I put my head back where it previously resided. I didn't want to be rude to this stranger, but I really didn't feel like pouring my soul out to the man who had a nice smile and who also hated hospitals.
"You don't look sick, are you here for a relative?" I turned my head slightly, and watched as he sat down beside me. I watched him closely as he adjusted himself. He couldn't be any older than my brother Jason. I knew he definitely wasn't eighteen anymore though.
I sniffed and wiped my tears with the sleeve of my hoodie. Just like me, he drew his knees up to his chest and placed his arms around his knees. He lay his head down and just looked at me. "A couple of years ago, my grandmother died." I really don't know why he's telling me this. "I was devastated. She was the one person that believed in me, no matter what. Even when I doubted myself, she was always the one to say Ger -" he paused like he had forgotten his own name. When I made no move, he gave me another smile. "She said everything was going to be okay."
I didn't believe him. I couldn't.
"You just don't understand," I told him bitterly, "my sister isn't dead yet. She's still alive. My parents are prolonging her existence. I'm prolonging her existence," I added the last part quietly, but still just as bitter as before.
I moved my head so I was looking in the other direction. After a moment of silence, I felt his arm slide around my shoulders, and rub my shoulder slowly. "I know it can be hard, but -"
I looked at him, a new wave of tears falling down my cheeks. "No you don't know," I yelled, pushing his arm off me. How dare he try to relate. How dare he be like everyone else and pretend to care. I stood up, glaring at him. "You don't understand," I said quietly. "I'm seventeen, and I have the power to choose whether my sister lives or dies," I started yelling again, and I knew I was hysterical.
He stood up in front of me, and I realized how much taller he was than me. No one spoke a word as I collapsed into the hug he had been silently offering me the whole time. When I was finally calm, I sniffed a couple of times, before drawing in a shaky breath. "You don't understand how hard it is to be so young, but feeling so alone in the world. Everyone always takes Rochelle's side. It doesn't matter if I have a compelling argument, all Rochelle has to do is be herself - sickly and dying - and she automatically wins."
He sighed to himself. "You have no idea..."
I was about to ask him what he meant, when I heard footsteps approaching quickly. "Gerard? Oh my god Gerard, what the hell are you doing all the way over here?"
'Gerard' let go of me, but still somehow managed to hold me tight against his side, as he greeted the other young man coming towards us.
"Mikey!" He said lightly. "I was just comforting..." I felt him squeeze my shoulder, and I knew he wanted my name.
"Shelby," I offered weakly, "Shelby Winters."
Mikey smiled softly at me. "Hello Shelby Winters, I'm Mikey Way." He offered his hand to me, which I shook politely. He shot a glance over to 'Gerard' before looking back at me. "And since he had to secretly find out your name, I'm going to assume he hasn't given you his name." He reached out, and not so inconspicuously squeezed Gerard's shoulder.
The gesture made me smile. It wasn't a true smile, but it was the first smile I've made in a while.
Gerard glared somewhat menacingly at Mikey, and it was like they were trying to read each other's thoughts.
I wish I could do that with Rochelle again.
I backed out of Gerard's grasp, and nodded to the two surprised boys. "Listen, it was really nice to meet you both, but I have to get back to my undead sister."
I turned and started sprinting down the hall. As I was leaving, I heard Mikey speak; "what does she mean /undead sister/?" I heard no reply, so I assumed Gerard didn't give him one.
When I got back to Rochelle's room, a lot of hospital staff were pacing inside and outside the room. My father was the first to notice me. "Shelby, are you -"
"Let's just get this over with," I hissed starkly, making a beeline for Nurse Barbara.