Nate was so pale. She saw his heart through his translucent skin, struggling to beat, to pump blood down his thin blue veins. Arielle was sickened by looking at him hanging onto life. His breaths were short. His eyes never opened anymore, they fluttered as if he was asleep but it seemed he was stuck in a place between asleep and awake. Too tired to be with those around him and too afraid to sleep, fearing that the next dream may be his last. She feared to hold his hand. It was dry and felt like brittle papier-mâché, she worried that, in his weakness, her caress would break his bones.
Doctors pottered back and forth, each surprised by how he managed to survive another day. Each another day was no doubt the result of her love. The love of a sister for her older brother. Every day after school she came and sat with him. All the nurses knew her by sight and she knew them all by name. They often talked of her pleasantness and her dedication. Her parents didn’t come anymore, they had long since given up hope of a recovery but they could not bring themselves to stare upon him, watching their son slowly fade into nothing. But everyday she came. Arielle brought fresh flowers to put in the vase by his bed. She would pull the blinds open just a little wider so the sunshine shone in upon him from outside and she would sit. Sometimes she would talk to him, sometimes she cried and others she just sat, as if her presence was merely enough. An eternal vigil for his passing soul. Arielle left at the same time each day, six thirty, and returned home for dinner. Every day she would lie to comfort her mother, saying he looked a little better that day. Truth was, he never looked better. His face was pallored, his eyes sunken and black rimmed from sleepless nights, his cheekbones high with hollow cheeks. He the look of a corpse but Arielle still believed he fought not to become one.
They ate dinner in silence. Her mother, a shaken woman, barely ate. Arielle always cleared her plate and her father kept hiding his grief behind the newspaper. She began to forget what he looked like. Funnily though, each day the newsprint looked more and more like a face, a cold and indifferent one.
Arielle was not terribly religious but she prayed every day but only for her brother. She wore a small ornate silver cross around her neck, not as a symbol of faith but more because she liked the design. Every night before bed, she sat before her mirror looking at her reflection. Her complexion was smooth and her face rounded, she had tresses of black curls that framed her lovely face. Her most distinctive features were sharp blue eyes and her lips, a pale vermilion from chewing them between her teeth. She would brush her hair, change for bed and lay for a moment in the light of a lamp before clicking it off, letting the darkness take her. Its cold arms enveloped her, unfeeling, uncaring, her pain would seep to the surface and pour from her eyes to stain her pillows. In the dark, in her pain, she would call out for someone, angel, demon, honest man or fake, anyone who would hear her wish.
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