She’d never seen someone die before, and she didn’t want to. But she couldn’t tear her eyes away from the scrawny, pale young man. His hair, damp with sweat, spread out beneath his head in a dark, fragmented halo. She’s never liked him much, but she didn’t want him to die. Beside her, her best friend, her sister hysterically cried, though she stood still as a statue. Their mother, always so calm and collected, shook her step-son’s shoulders, calling his name, shouting it at him. As usual, his father peered down with contempt, as if his despised, drug-addicted son was nothing more than a bug just squashed beneath the leather-stacked heel of his highly polished shoe. Were it not for one of his other sons, no one may have thought to call for help.
The adolescent girl knew it could happen, but it had never seemed real. Now she stood there, watching, conflicted, wanting the brother-figure who’d always been so mean to her, to survive. When she’d first met him, she thought he was a fairytale prince who she’d marry one day. Her last sight of him couldn’t be of his downfall. This couldn’t be the end.
Medics rushed past her, and someone finally pulled her away, toward another room. She tried not to go. She didn’t want to stop looking at him. Mean as he was, he understood. He’d been an outsider, like her, not wanted by his surviving parent, like her. He understood, and even if he didn’t say anything nice to her, she needed that. She needed him. She needed to see him still alive as long as she could. Her mouth formed his name, though no sound came with it, until, at last, her face crumbled, and the tears came.
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