Chapter 1: The day begins
It was a sully morning and the leaves were barely moving. The thought of arising was just as dreary. I laid there hoping the day would not continue to show itself. I put the pillowcase over my head and pulled on the corners to shut out the impending light. I tried to let my thoughts wander back to the dream I had just been having. It was of a much better place in a much better time.
It was no use. The smells of day time were beginning to make their way through the fabric and stuffing of my pillow. I kicked my heels at the bed and cursed the sun as I threw my pillow across the room. Perfect…. sigh. I hit the flower vase, sending water cascading down my bookcase. Oh yes, this was going to be a great day. Rushing over to the bookcase to pick up the vase before any more damage was done, I grabbed the closest thing I could find to sop up the water. I had to do laundry soon anyway. Thanks to some out-of-the-ordinary luck I had put the flower vase on the second shelf, under the books. The little knick knacks would not be harmed by the water, and with the water wiped up, the book shelf would be fine too.
I better get a grip. Today was too important.
In the next room there was bacon frying and pancakes being made. A sure tell sign that the rest of the house remembered what today meant. Normally that would have smelled wonderful to me. My favorite breakfast. Today it just smelled like doom. Someone was trying to make me feel better. Making someone feel better, means something is wrong. Ugh.
I smelled the oil slicks, exhaust, and old motor grease from the garage next door. VRROOUUM. An engine was being tested. It was 7 o’clock alright. I looked out the window pushing the curtain aside with the dripping wet shirt I had just mopped up the spilled water with. It dripped on my leg and I remembered what I had been doing. I threw the shirt into the hamper and looked for something else to finish the job. My bath towel would do. That finished I set about getting dressed. What to wear? If I wear dark colors I’ll blend in with the dismal day outside, and if I wear bright colors I’ll look like I’m trying too hard not to look like the day outside. I pick a shirt that starts out dandelion yellow at the collar and ends in evergreen at the hem. I pull on a pair of khaki painters pants and some khaki flops. Not bad, my toes are painted orange. The color scheme seems pretty together.
Well , time to face the day. Here it comes, I’m going to open the door….
My first formal greeting to the day is Cheesecake licking at my ankles. Now, the ordinary person would look at me and say, “Why did you name your dog Cheesecake?” I tell you, what is the point of naming a 4 lb dog, Bruiser, Killer, or King? The worst she could bruise is my big toenail. She was having a bit of trouble trying to kill the resident ants and….she’s a she. She couldn’t be King. What she is is a tiny little cream-white bit of Cheesecake; that’s why I named her that. She trembles if you move her too much, crumbles if you hold her less than ‘ever-so-gently’, and everybody likes her. Besides we both love Halloween; everyone knows that a cheesecake goes with any kind of topping.
I reach down to pick her up. Now she licks my wrists incessantly. I think she likes me. “Yes, yes, yesh, I wuv you too”. She licks my chin until I bring her down into the crook of my arm. I look around. Just as I suspected…pancakes and bacon. Oh for crying out loud, orange juice. Ok, it’s not that bad, not bad enough to bring out the big guns. I roll my eyes as I look at my sister. “I’m just going in for preliminary work, it’s not like their dissecting me today”. “No doubt, if they were dissecting you today, you wouldn’t be able to eat, duh”. She flicks her head at me, shoots me the “say thank-you” look and says, “eat up”.
“You know, there probably gonna take so much blood it’ll take this nutrition right outta me”? She looks across the table, “Yeah, yeah”, and shoves a triple triangle of pancake into her mouth. I hate getting my blood drawn. I hate needles. I hate the thought of little, incredibly sharp knives cutting into me.
~ ‘Scalpel’, ‘Scalpel’ the fully draped doctor receives the instrument from the equally swathed nurse with the precision of a military soldier. My body beneath them, I look up. ~ ewgh. I shake my head a little, which turns into a full body shiver. Cheesecake gets in on the act and starts a little shiver of her own. Brandy just looks at the two of us with the ‘Oh my god, really’ look I know so well, and says “They say that pets and their owners begin to look alike, but that was just weird”.
“Why is it so dismal out, can’t the Weather Man give me a sunny day for this? It’s like an omen”. I pull back the yellow sheers and peer out the window as I take my place at the table beside Brandy. I pull two pancakes off the center plated and plop them onto my own. I reach for the bacon only to have my hand speared by Brandy’s fork. “Hey, we’re in this together, K? Mom and dad would have been too.”
She takes her fork away and starts back to her breakfast. I pull my hand back and rub it slightly before venturing to retrieve some bacon.
“I can’t very well eat my breakfast if you keep stabbing me, now can I”? She doesn’t look up. I pour the raspberry syrup over my pancakes with one hand and munch on bacon with the other.
“Ish szha cah goba be abrigh?”
“Yes, the car (especially annunciated) is going to make it just fine.”
God, sometimes she looked like mom too. Talk about weird. Who was she to talk?
The clinic was right at 100 miles away. My school was only 12 miles away. Her car never seemed to make it all the way to my school without issues. I was quite suspicious that it was going to make it all the way to the clinic. Apparently my thoughts were given away on my face.
Either that or my sister knew me as well as she claimed to because immediately she said, “I had Joe next door look it over yesterday and he replaced some hose or the other. Said it should be fine.”
Cool, getting to my first class on time would now be ‘fine’ too. My biology instructor was not my best friend these days.
A shadow passed over the house and Brandy jumped up to look. “Don’t you want to see?”
“Nah”, I say. Brandy sat back down, “You really that nervous? I thought you were excited.”
“It’s both I guess, what if I can’t do it? Today’s tests will determine if I even get to try. I mean maybe something’s wrong with me that we never knew about?”
“Right, like ….the worms in your stomach must have died this morning. You usually eat like a starving hog.” We both laugh. It was true, I had a great metabolism. I could out eat most of my guy friends.
~I hope I get to go. There’ll still be 6 months of training if I pass all the tests. But how could I pass up this opportunity?~
The drive was uneventful. The occasional shadow passed overhead. The fields looked greener than ever seen in a picture. The car ran with no problems, as promised. We laughed and joked at first, but as we got closer, we both got quiet and into our own thoughts.
I hope I can eat pancakes again without thinking of this morning, I thought. My room was left just as messy as ever and my Calculus homework was waiting for me somewhere in there. That’s the kind of stuff I needed orange juice for, Calculus. Ugh, good thing I like math.
The entrance into the complex was immaculate and awe-inspiring. The buildings shone in the sun as if made of diamonds. The buildings were each several stories high and formed a complex of octagonal shape. The center was hidden from view. There was a long road that mazed through well-kept hedges of berry bushes, punctuated with fig trees. “Wow, this place is a’maze’ing”, Brandy says.
“Ha ha, you’re funny B, berry berry funny”. We both laugh. Sisters can get stupid when left together for several hours.
Brandy was 3 years older than me. Older enough that I was just a nuisance to her most of our growing up. Now we were both adults, I turned 19 last week. We were both excited when we received the letter that stated I had been chosen for the selection process. And now here we were. Brandy had been passed up 3 years ago because she turned 19 just a couple weeks after our parents had gotten into the accident. I remember how excited they had been with her birthday coming up, to see if she would get chosen. I know they are happy for me now.
Again my thoughts must have been written on my face because just at that moment Brandy turned slightly towards me, and said, “Mom and Dad would have been so proud right now. I am too. I don’t want you to go in there thinking that I am upset. At all. I’m really happy for you, and glad that I can be your support.”
“Thanks B” My throat got a little tighter and everything looked a little blurrier as I turned to face the car window.