Rita stared at the empty chair in the back corner of her Writer's Craft class. Allen Deather sat in that chair. Although he seemed to be absent at least once every two weeks, Rita was sad that he had chosen to skip school today - of all days. It was the last day of school before winter holidays. That made it the last opportunity for Rita to confess her crush on him, until next year!
The school day passed uneventfully and Rita walked home alone, rather disappointed in herself. She had liked Allen Deather since last Spring, after she had read a story that he had wrote which was posted up in the school library. It was partially fantasy themed but what had really gotten her attention was the romance between the two main characters. His story had inspired her to write her own short stories but they never seemed to sound as professional as his. However, she did not stop trying and within the past few months, she had written more than 10 romance-themed short stories.
Rita had been overjoyed when she found out that she would be in the same Grade 12 Writer's Craft class as Allen. From the first day of grade 12 - a good 3 months ago - She had convinced herself to confess her feelings to him. She had planned to do so right before every weekend in the past three months. She had chickened out of confessing 15 times already and today - the only time when she didn't run out of school as soon as the bell rang - he was absent.
Rita was volunteering at St. June's Hospital over the winter break and she planned to use that as a way to momentarily forget about her obsession with Allen. She was in charge of making sure that the patients were comfortable, and entertaining the bored and dispirited ones. She was casually making her rounds when she entered room 183. Rita's mouth fell open. Sleeping peacefully on the hospital bed, covered in bandages and a number of tubes, was Allen Deather!
"I'm watching him, Miss, you can continue to the next room..." said the cold voice of a skinny middle-aged woman who was sitting on a chair next to the hospital bed. Rita hadn't noticed the woman until she spoke so she had jumped, startled. Allen's eyes opened halfway, and without moving any other part of his body, his eyes scanned the room. He noticed the woman sitting near his bed, and his eyes immediately closed, putting him precisely back into his previous lifeless-seeming state.
"I was saying," the woman startling Rita again, "that I can take care of my son by myself!" Allen's mother stared bitterly at Rita as she quickly walked backwards, out of the room.
As Rita closed the door behind her. She could hear the woman muttering, "Kids these days! Never listening to adults! If I could, I would..." her voice trailed off as Rita slowly walked to the next room. She was utterly bewildered by what had happened in the past few minutes.
I'll go back and ask Allen what happened as soon as visiting hours are over, and his mother leaves... Rita thought, shuddering at the possibility that she might run into the frightening woman again. She walked into room 186, and gasped at the patient lying on the hospital bed. It was Allen Deather... again! However, this time, his bandages were in different places. There also seemed to be quite a few more bandages on this Allen's body...
"Hi Rita!" said the boy cheerfully. Rita stared, dumfounded at him. Never, during the past 9 months since Allen had transferred to Westmorland High, had he acknowledged Rita's existence - much less greeted her using her name! He chuckled, "I'm guessing you were just in Allen's room..."
"Allen's room?" Rita asked, convinced that this boy was Allen.
"Do we really look that much alike?" he grinned, "Allen, the guy in the other room, is the one whose in your Writer's Craft class at Westmorland. I'm his twin brother, Aaron."