Cassie’s Sister

Two ladies walked through the parking lot, one carrying a bouquet of flowers. They both wore light grey business suits and the one with the flowers had a colorful silk scarf. She handed a card to the other one. “You give her this,” she said.When they got inside they stood at the end of the swimming pool and waited as swimmers did laps. A young girl finished a lap and swam up to them. “Who are those for?” she asked the one with the flowers, holding the edge of the pool with wet hands. “We were going to give them to your sister,” said the woman. Then she burst out crying. The other woman comforted her, stroking her arm gently. Then she held out the card to the girl in the pool. She knelt by the edge and handed it down. The girl opened it and several hundred dollar bills fell out of it, dropping into the water. The girl grabbed them out of the water and went on to read the card. “This is for Cassie,” she said, trying to hand it back up.

“No, you keep it,” the other woman said, now crying too. “We’ll just leave these here,” the mother said, laying the flowers down on the tile by the side of the pool. The two women turned to leave, holding each other, both sniveling quietly. The girl lifted herself up, out of the pool and went to the flowers. “Well, thanks,” she said, but the women had already gone out to the parking lot. She walked back toward the girl’s locker room to put away the money and find a vase for the flowers. On her way, she glanced over at the door to the parking lot and shook her head.

After a day of swimming practice, the girl sat on a bench with her bag, waiting. Her mother arrived, a large woman, her face red with fresh tears. The whole ride home she cried. The girls looked out the window, trying to imagine living in any one of the houses they passed. When they arrived at home the girl went to her room and threw her bag on the bed. Her mother was downstairs with her father and uncle, and you could hear the sobs through the floor, all three of them. The wailing would rise and fall, sometimes quieting down before a new surge of blubbering would erupt. The girl lay on her bed, covering her ears. Then she put on her headphones and turned the music way up, looking through a fashion magazine.

Eventually she got up and looked out the window. There were five or six relatives hugging each other, faces slick with tears. The girl turned up a hardcore metal song on her iPod and walked down the hall to her sister’s room. She could make out her sister’s body behind the sheer bed canopy, her sister’s blond hair spread over the pillow. She pushed the canopy netting back and looked down at her sister’s beautiful, pale face. The stake still stuck straight up out of her heart and her fingers were locked around it in their final, vain attempt to pull it out

Gathering her courage, the girl pulled her sister’s jaw open slightly, revealing the protruding canine teeth, sharp as razors. Carefully, she stuck her own arm into her sister’s mouth and with her other hand clamped the jaw shut, the teeth piercing the soft flesh of her forearm. Blood ran down and dripped onto her sister’s lace blouse. The girl fought the urge to scream out, a tear running down her cheek. Then she withdrew her arm and closed her sister’s mouth, wiping the blood off her sister’s chin. She pulled up the sheet to cover the stained blouse. Then she knelt down on the floor, squeezing her arm as a freezing sensation began to spread. More tears rushed down her face from the pain.

Her mother came in then, and the sight of her daughter’s tears made her cry harder. She rushed over to the girl and squeezed her in a tight embrace. “It’s okay baby! It’s okay. Let it out, let it out!” As her mother rocked her back and forth, the girl looked down at where her sister lay. She ran her tongue over her own canines and could already feel them growing as the pain in her arm subsided. A smile crept across her face and she hugged her Mom back with renewed energy. “It’s okay, baby,” her mother said. “It’s all going to be okay.”

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