An infant's cry rang through the small split-level bungalow, followed by a raspy and shaky voice attempting to soothe the child. A young girl, almost four years old, crept down the long flight of stairs to the lower level of the house. Her deep blue eyes were wide with confusion, and at the same time, an understanding that was beyond her years. When she reached the bottom, she peered around the corner of the doorway into the rec-room, where her mother was sitting up in the hospital style bed, rocking the baby in her arms.
It was only shortly after six in the evening, but the sky was already getting dark, emphasizing the coldness of that dreary March weather. The sad and depressing weather it seemed, was a pathetic fallacy of the story evolving inside the young family's home.
The girl surveyed the room silently, noting that the dark brown walls and stucco ceiling were still the same as always. So were the fireplace, and the blinds which hung over all three windows. Her toys and dolls were missing from the room, replaced by the large hospital bed her mother was lying on. A large IV bag hung beside the bed, other medical tools and equipment sat on the top of the bar counter near the doorway. The girl had never quite understood what these things were, or why the big bag was attached to her mother by a long cord.
The VON nurse, who usually was there to watch over her mother, had gone home for the night, leaving the family to spend some time together. The girl was supposed to be upstairs with her father as he made dinner, but during his distraction with setting the oven, she had snuck away. She never quite understood why she wasn't allowed to spend all day with her mother anymore, nor could she understand the ominous feeling that lay heavy over her heart.
By this point the baby had calmed down, and her mother glanced over to see her eldest daughter watching from the doorway. Motioning for her to come over, the girl ran up to her and gave her mother a big hug. 'I won't show mommy I'm scared,' the girl thought bravely, as she crawled up onto the bed. As she felt her mother's arm wrap around her, she snuggled in, feeling safe with her.
Her father entered the room a moment later, shaking his head. "I'm sorry Suzi," he told his wife, "I told her to stay upstairs with me."
"It's okay Peter. These are the moments we're going to have to treasure."
They exchanged a saddened look, knowing this would be one of the last times they would have together as a family. Suzi began to cough violently, and Peter's reaction was quick. He helped the little girl off the bed, and took the baby in his arms, who had begun wailing again, startled by Suzi's violent coughing. The coughs grew worse, and Suzi's already pale shade of skin seemed to become even paler, if it was possible. Peter grabbed the phone and called 911.
"Take your sister upstairs," he said to the girl, putting his youngest daughter in her outstretched arms. The girl looked confused, but turned and carried her wailing sister upstairs as quickly as she could go. She nearly stumbled a few times on the steps, as her sister was fairly heavy to a child of her size. Within moments of reaching the living room, the sound of sirens filled the air, approaching the house quickly. A sinking feeling filled the girl's stomach. Several men dressed in white ran into the house and down the stairs.
Once they were down, her father came upstairs and took the baby in his arms, and rested his free hand comfortingly on the girl's shoulder. She watched in sadness as they took her mother out of the house, then ran to the window and watched them lift her carefully into the white van with flashing lights. As the vehicle drove away, she knew deep down inside it was the last time she would ever see her.