I'm sitting at the dining room at the table that usually holds eight people. Without everyone else buzzing around the house seems dead and empty. The smell of lightly burnt coffee no longer fills the air, I miss the sound of Emily talking about her boyfriend, I miss Tori's and Joey's morning fights about which colour is better- or which animal was faster.
I'm sitting in my spot across from Tori who is happily drawing at the table; as if she's been doing it for years. She's still my happy, hyper sister but more subdued and I wonder how she took the news. She obviously remembers it- whereas I don't.
I feel a warm hand on my shoulder and I jump turning to see Ryan standing behind me. "Sorry." He says as he sits in the spot beside me. I open my mouth to tell him not to- that's Emily's spot, she should be coming down in a second. But then I remember that she isn't ever going to come down.
I close my mouth and look away from Ryan feeling the hot tears bead in my eyes and sniff trying to hold all the emotions in. My eyes land on Tori is eating her eyes pretending not to see me cry. I sniffle and look up telling myself I cannot cry. I have to be strong. I need to be strong for Tori- she needs me.
A warm arm wraps around me and Ryan pulls me close to him. I let him. Because even though Tori needs me right now- I'm so lost and all I can think about is how much I need my mother right now. My head rests on Ryan's chest and the tears threaten to spill over- but the never fall. Wrapped tightly in Ryan's arms I feel calm, I feel safe.
I hear a giggle from across the table and I look over at Tori who is smiling at me and Ryan, "I told you Ryan loves you."
I feel myself blush and I try to pull away from Ryan but his grip tightens, "You are right Tori- I do love Nicky here. Did she not believe you when you told her?"
Tori shakes her head- still smiling, "No, she didn't she thought I was lying."
Ryan gasps and holds me at arm's length, "You thought Tori was lying?" He asks me sound aghast, his blue eyes wide as the danced with amusement. "How could you ever say such a thing about your sister?"
I can't help myself as I smile at Ryan's shocked face and because of that I miss the slight pause, "I would never say that- I was just confused." I say back.
"Confused, she says. Can you believe it Tori?" Ryan asks looking over at my sister who shakes her head quickly.
"No I can't!" Tori say loudly just as the phone rings.
Ryan looks over at me and the phone rings again, "Are you going to get that?"
I shake my head, "No- it's probably not important."
Ryan's eyes watch me for a long second and they are cold a calculating. I stare back wondering what happened to the nice Ryan when the smile flashed back onto his face. "That's very true and if it was they'd-" Ryan's interrupted as his phone rings from his pocket. "Looks like it was important," He says to himself as he releases me to pull his phone out. He stands up and I sit back in my chair- watching him go- almost missing the comfort he brought.
"Nicole, why don't you remember?"
I look back at my sister who gazes up at me with wide brown eyes. I sigh, "Honey, I don't know. But once I do I will tell you." I say in a calm voice.
Tori nods her head, "Ok." She gets up from her chair and walks around the table to come and hug me. I wrap her in my arms like Ryan did just for me seconds ago. "I miss them."
I nod as I rest my chin on her red hair. "I know honey, I miss them too." I say quietly blinking tears from my eyes. I hold my little sister close to me for a long time before I realise that there are eyes on me. I look to see Ryan standing in the doorway of the kitchen watching me; his blue eyes soft.
He smiles when his eyes catch mine, "We have to go to the hospital, Nicky." He says and I feel dread fill me.
"Someone is waiting there for us."