The last I needed to be was stuck in traffic. I had other places to be and one of them was not stuck in the middle of I-820 waiting for some big-ass truck to be cleared off the road. I wonder if truck drivers even know how to drive. Weren't they thinking about letting eighteen year olds drive those things? That has to say something about the companies' standards. They obviously would let anyone drive. Just like the state?lunatics on the road, I swear. It's just awful.
Already I've been sitting for two hours waiting for this idiotic semi to be moved. I'm just glad that the thing wasn't carrying anything toxic. That would surely add another ten hours to my trip that is supposed to be only half an hour. It's ludicrous really. Of course there's nothing on the radio except idiotic DJ's trying to promote idiotic contests that only idiotic people can win.
This obviously isn't to be my day. I sink down lower in my car seat and let go of the steering wheel. We aren't going anywhere anyway. I lean my head back and close my eyes trying to concentrate on anything except how hot it is getting in my car and how unhappy I am with my current situation. Of course that's when my phone decides to ring.
I had thrown the damn thing in the passenger seat when I got in the car. It was bothering me - or more accurately the person on it was bothering me - so I threw the thing. Now, it is all the way on the other side of the car and I'm not sure I want to answer it. Most likely it is bad news or maybe it's just someone who wanted something from me. Maybe my own life's blood perhaps.
The phone continues to ring and I continue to debate whether or not I want to answer it. Unfortunately I lose the fight and give into the damn thing. The ringing was starting to annoy me.
"Hello?" I am sure to sound as irritated as I am.
"Yes, is this Ms. Gwendolyn Averson?" I don't recognize the voice, which could have meant that she was calling me for business purposes but I am off the clock.
"Yeah this is Ms. Averson." I sigh. "How may I help you?"
"Ms. Averson my name is Kathryn Lopez, I work for HEB hospital, your sister Anna Averson was brought into the emergency room. She was in an accident. You should probably come into the hospital."
I am suddenly very overwhelmed with regret that I have even answered the phone. I knew I should have let it ring. "Is she dead?"
"No ma'am, but it is very important that you come to the hospital as soon as you can." The nurse's voice is gentle. I bet if I got all hysterical she'd try to calm me down. That's sure to have the potential of entertaining me.
I debate my complete boredom against acting hysterical in my car - that at the moment is going nowhere - I choose the boredom. I'm sure this woman has more important things to do. "Then why do I have to be there? If she's not dead and I don't have to identify the body then what do you need me for?" There is silence over the line. I fill it. "Do you need money from me? Is that it? Or do I need to sign some papers that let you operate on her?"
"Ma'am your sister was in a very serious accident," The woman is chastising me.
"I understand that, ma'am. I'm not stupid. What kind of accident was she in anyway? Did she try to kill herself again?"
"No," The woman is bewildered now. "She was in a?"
"?Well that's certainly a relief. I wouldn't want to deal with her being suicidal again. That act is very old by now." I glance at the clock on my dashboard. It reads 6:35. "Well I guess if traffic gets moving again then I could be there in fifteen minutes, but that's only if I take the back roads once I reach the nearest exit. Those roads are so full of potholes though, I'm not sure I want to put my car through that. I just got my alignment done not that long ago. Took me forever to get a free moment to go and do that. I certainly don't want to ruin it now."
"You really need to be here as soon as you can ma'am." Oh how cute, Ms. Lopez sounds like she was gritting her teeth. I guess I'm frustrating the woman. The nerve of me.
"I'll be there as soon as I can," I look up at the traffic ahead of me and notice that the cars in front of me are actually moving. "Oh look the traffic's moving. I better go." I hang up my phone and throw the damn thing back on the passenger seat. The guy behind me honks at me since I haven't moved my car yet. I curse him but put my foot on the accelerator anyway.
I put the conversation I had with that nurse out of mind and try to remember the fastest way that I could get to County General. Once I have the route safely planned out I think about anything I can to keep my mind off the fact that my sister was in, I'm guessing, serious condition in the emergency room. I didn't care if she was there. She'd been there before and there was no doubt that she'd be there again. I wondered sometimes how it was possible that we even carried the same blood.
I speed the car up just a little. The traffic is still very heavy and we are moving slowly. There is an exit up ahead that I could take. With some deft maneuvering I get into the far right lane and take the exit. If the lights were with me I could be at the hospital in ten minutes. I, of course, have other places to be, but if the hospital wanted me to sign something I am my sister's only living relative. Well actually, I am her only relative that will actually go to the hospital to see her. I hate her, but I still couldn't abandon her. I don't care what happens to her, of course.
It doesn't matter that my hands are shaking and that my heart is pounding. I hate her and my life would be much easier if she just died and left the living with some peace.
Fifteen years prior
"Gwen wait up!" Anna called out to her older sister. "Where do you need to be in such a hurry?"
Gwendolyn turned and gave her sister a severe look. "The same place that you need to be."
A shadow fell over the younger girl's face. "I don't want to go home, Gwenie."
Gwendolyn reached out and took her sisters arm. She stopped walking and the young blonde quickly followed suit. "I'm not going to let him do anything to you, An, I swear."
"Why can't we just run away? He's too stupid to find us." Green eyes flashed both fear and anger.
"We're still too young, Anna. I'm only sixteen and you're only five. We don't have any money." Gwendolyn still had her sister's arm in her hand. She held it there more for comfort than anything. "If we run away now, Babygirl, then we'd end up on the street."
"The street would be better than living with Him." Anna stuck her lip out petulantly. "I hate Him."
"No it wouldn't be Anna. The streets are filled with hundreds of Hims. I'm not going to take you to a place more dangerous than home."
Green eyes rolled in annoyance but were ignored. "I mean it Anna. I'm going to take care of you but I can't do that now."
"Fine. But I still don't want to go home."
"I know Babygirl, I don't either." Gwendolyn pulled her sister in for a quick hug. "We're going to make it through this."
"At least he's not your real father," Anna said into her sister's shoulder. "You don't have to be afraid that you're going to be like Him."
"Babygirl, you don't have to be afraid about that either," Gwendolyn pushed the smaller body away from her so that she could look into her sister's solemn green eyes. "He may be your father but that doesn't mean anything. I mean look at me," The dark haired teenager spread her arms out wide. "Do I seem anything like Mama to you?"
Anna took a good long look at her sister then shook her head. "You're a better parent than she is."
Gwendolyn smiled widely. "Why thank you, Babygirl." She took the younger girl in her arms once more then turned and started walking back down the sidewalk. Anna looked at her for a moment then hurried to catch up. She may have not wanted to go home, but she certainly didn't want to be left alone without her big sister either.
It only takes me eight minutes to get to the hospital. I would like to blame the lights working with me and the traffic giving me a break for the reason why I made it to this horrifying place in record time, but I can not lie to myself that well. I may be an expert at lying in general, but lying to myself really hasn't worked. The Lord forgive me I am actually worried about Anna.
I walk briskly, but don't run, to the front desk of the E.R. I ask about Anna and I think the woman shooting daggers across from me is the nurse that called me. What was her name again, Lopez? Yes Lopez; a common last name.
"Look Ms. Lopez," I'm forced to say after a few minutes of her just staring at me. "I think you've judged me without knowing all the facts and I really don't care about that, because I don't care about you, but I would like to know what's going on with my sister. Shall I remind you that you were the one that called me and that it wasn't the other way around?"
The woman still stares at me with her harsh brown eyes. I think she's either wishing I spontaneously combust or is trying to intimidate me. "Ms. Lopez, if I admit that I'm a cold-hearted bitch and swear that I will burn in the everlasting fires of Hell will you tell me what has happened to my sister?"
Nurse Lopez looks at me shocked. "That's not necessary." She shakes her head. "I'm sorry, I'm being very unprofessional, of course I'll tell you about your sister." The woman moves from behind the desk, which surprises me. I figured she would be afraid to be close to me. I am bigger than her and by the way I am acting towards her it would be within her right to assume that I might be a violent person.
"Your sister jumped into a ditch to save a child's life. She almost died saving the little boy. She got the boy out but she couldn't get herself out. When the firefighters were able to pull her out of the water she wasn't breathing and had numerous cuts on her body. The doctor will be out to talk with you as soon as possible."
"What happened to the little boy she saved?" I was curious. The boy had a lot to be thankful for. Anna hasn't committed a selfless act since?well she hadn't in a good long while.
"He's waiting with his mother in the waiting area." Nurse Lopez answers pointing to a woman with a sleeping boy in her lap. The mother looks up at me then holds her child closer to her body. I guess I'm not the type of company she wanted her child in. I look back to the nurse and thank her then walk towards the woman the nurse pointed out to me.
She is kind of attractive with her long dark hair and deep blue eyes. She looks like a model, but I really am not that impressed. I do work with models everyday and the novelty of being in their presence has already worn off.
She looks at me curiously as I approach. She must know that I am approaching her because there isn't anyone else in my line of vision and I am looking directly at her.
"How's the kid?" I point to the little man in her arms.
"He's fine," She doesn't know why I am asking, which is understandable. She still doesn't know who I am.
I nod. "That's good to hear. The doctors checked him out and everything?"
She nods, still with that curious look on her face. It is like she knows she should know me but she just doesn't understand from where. I tend to get that a lot.
I decide to introduce myself even though I am having a lot of fun messing with her. My day hasn't been that pleasant thus far and I need a little bit of entertainment. "My name's Gwendolyn Averson, my sister's the one that saved your son from the flooding waters from what I understand."
Recognition immediately lights up her features and she tries to stand up but is quickly reminded that there is a sleeping child on her lap. The boy wakes up and rubs his eyes. He looks around the hospital then looks up at me. I lock eyes with him for a moment then gave him a big smile and bend down to his level.
"How you doing little man?"
I think he was impressed that I called him a man, because he smiles. "Okay," he says softly.
"Well that's really good to hear." I keep the smile on my face but hold out my hand. "My name's Gwendolyn but you can call me Gwenie," his small hand takes my larger one and I shake it gently. "My sister was the one that helped you out today and I'm really glad she did. What's your name little man?"
"Andy." He supplies making no move to take his hand back.
"Well Andy, it's really nice to meet you." I let go of his hand but ruffle his hair. He just looks at me annoyed. "I've got to go hunt down some doctors but I'm sure I'll be seeing you again." I give him another big smile then stand up. His mom looks at me like I am an alien. That entertains me.
"I didn't catch your name," I hold my hand out to her as well and she reluctantly takes it. "Cameron."
Cameron is a nice enough name; not that exotic, but it is nice. "Well as I told Andy, I've got some doctors to hunt down." I turn and walk away. It was nice the kid was okay and his mother seemed fine too, but now I needed to find out about my sister. I'd been to this hospital before and I know a lot of the doctors here.
"Dr. Kennison?" I call out at the short man who's crossing my path. He looks up at me and smiles. He had asked me out a few times, but I'd always refused. It's not that I don't like him, he's a nice man, I just don't like him enough.
"My sister was brought in. Do you know anything about that?"
His blue eyes stare at me for a moment then he nods. "Anna yeah, she came in about an hour ago."
"She's been here for an hour and I was only called not even a half hour ago?" I'm surprised. They usually get in touch with me much quicker than that. I figured they'd have my home, work and cell phone number on speed dial by now.
"Well maybe they had a problem finding your number. Did you change it?"
Yes I did actually, but he doesn't need to know that. "They made good timing actually," I shrug. "But where is Anna?"
"She's out of the E.R. now. I think I just saw them wheeling her up to her own room. I'm sure she's going to be fine." The small man reassures me. "If you want me to, I can take you up to her?"
That really isn't necessary and I tell him as much. All he needs to do is tell me which floor and which room. I could find my way on my own. The man was good for information but not for company.
Once he tells me where I can find Anna, I take off and find myself walking briskly, but not running to her room. If she died then my life would have been so much easier.
Fifteen years prior
Both girls walked into the house quietly. If He didn't hear them then they could just go to their room and He wouldn't notice they were home yet. They had almost made it to the bedroom door when a deep voice yelled from the back of the house, "Gwendolyn is that you and my little slut?"
Gwendolyn's body sagged completely. She wasn't yet prepared to deal with Him. It had been a long day at school and she hadn't had time yet to get her mind and body ready to deal with what He had to offer, but ready or not here He came.
"It's us Kent," Gwendolyn called back. She didn't need to call him "Father" he didn't like hearing it and she didn't like saying it.
"Aren't you going to come give me a proper greeting?" He called out making it sound like a question but it really being an order.
Gwendolyn took a quick look down the hallway and sighed. "Of course," she called out. "I've got to get Anna settled first."
"Gwenie don't." It was a plea that Anna made almost every day. They would come home and if He was here then Gwendolyn would go greet Him and Anna would ask her not to do it. She wasn't a stupid girl; she knew what went on behind the closed door. He would only hit her, but Gwendolyn?Gwendolyn was treated much worse.
"Go in the room, An." Gwendolyn always answered the plea in the same way. "Go in the room and turn on the stereo. Make sure it's loud enough so that I can hear it in the back room. Play my song for me." She gave Anna a push into the room making sure to close the door firmly behind her. She'd wait until she heard the music start up?what she called "her" song then she'd march off with her chin held high to the back room - a place she hated with every fiber of her being.
Once she started the music Anna would sit right next to the speaker. She loved this song almost as much as her sister did.
I find Anna's room with no problem and walked right in. She's sitting up in her hospital bed wide-awake. When she sees me enter the room her green eyes light up briefly but darken only seconds after. Her blonde hair is a mess and her face is covered up in little scratches. She didn't look to be in too serious condition so I wonder why I was called.
"Anna." I keep my voice low in my greeting. I remain serious. When she sees my own green eyes she will not see them light up at the mere sight of her. They stopped doing that a long time ago.
"Gwenie." Her voice is scratchy. I wonder why.
I walk up to her bed and stand above her. My arms are crossed in front of me and I make a point of looking at every inch of her body. "You look like shit."
Anna rolls her eyes and turns her head away. "Well what do you expect? I am in the hospital."
I pretend like I don't hear her. "The funny thing is that you actually look better now than you did when you were pounding on my front door a few weeks ago."
Her only response is a very pleasant, "Fuck you."
I pretend like I don't hear that either. "So, I don't hear from you in a month and then I get this call that you're in the hospital and saved some little boy's life." I pause for effect. "This either means that the sky is falling or I've entered a different dimension."
"Fuck you," She says again, but this time with more feeling. She loses points in originality though.
"So what is this going to cost me?" I spread my arms and indicate the room. "Last time you came here I was out over five thousand bucks, I'm not sure you're worth another five."
"Oh fu?" There is a knock on the door that interrupts what I assume is going to be another 'fuck you'. We both turn our attention to the door and I'm really not surprised to find "Little Man" and his model like mother standing at the door. I wonder how much of our conversation they had heard. Judging from the mother's face I wouldn't say much. Maybe she just caught the 'oh' part.
I motion for them to enter the room. "Come on in."
Anna looks at the pair curiously. I wonder if she even remembers saving the kid. I'm guessing from her expression that she doesn't so I decide to make introductions. "Anna, that's Andy," I give her a meaningful look. "And his mother Cameron. They've been waiting to see if you're okay."
A spark of recognition covers my sister's face. "Oh hey," Her voice is still raspy. Some caring individual has set out a pitcher of water with a few plastic cups next to it. I helpfully pour some water into a cup and hand it over to Anna. She takes it without a word.
"So how are you doing?" Cameron asks. The woman appears to really care about the answer too, but I figure she should. Anna did just save her little boy's life.
"The doctor's say that I'm going to be fine; just a few cuts and bruises. They want to keep me overnight for observation."
I mentally do the calculations of how much a night's stay is going to cost me, which will probably be too much.
"That's really great to hear," It's easy for Cameron to say that since she doesn't have to pay the bill. "I am so thankful that you did what you did."
Oh great. The model like lady is going to start getting all emotional now. That is definitely my signal to leave. So before Anna can respond I announce that I have to leave and take care of a few things but that I'd be back. Before I can walk out the door Anna calls me back and asks, of all things, "Could you bring Melody back here to see me?"
I would like to give her an emphatic negative response, but there is a child present in the room and I do have manners. "I'll ask her if she wants to come."
Anna knows I am being much more generous than is rightfully expected. Chances were that Melody wouldn't want to come, and I had absolutely no problem with that. I lock eyes with Anna for a moment longer before I walk out and for the first time in a long time I catch a glimpse of Babygirl.
Fifteen Years Prior
When Gwendolyn came back into the room Anna noticed that she was pale. She wasn't bruised and she wasn't bleeding, but she was very pale.
"Gwenie, are you alright? You look kind of like you're about to puke."
Gwendolyn looked absently at her little sister and the emptiness in her normally caring green eyes was almost frightening. Anna didn't like the way Gwenie looked now. "Gwenie are you alright?"
The older girl closed her eyes for a very long time and took a very deep breath. "I'm alright, Babygirl." Gwendolyn kept her eyes closed. "I'm just not feeling too well."
"What did He do to you?" Anna was a very smart child. She was almost too smart for her own good.
"Anna, it doesn't matter." Gwendolyn pushed away her sister's worry because it's all she could do. "What do you want for dinner?"
"Can we go out to eat somewhere," Anna allowed the subject change. Whatever happened Gwenie didn't want to talk about it and she wasn't going to force her to. She never wanted to cause her older sister any type of pain.
"Do you really think He'd let us leave?" It wasn't really a question, just a soft reminder.
Anna's eyes drooped. "I really want to leave."
Gwendolyn stared at the pitiful face Anna was giving her and she knew she would try her best to make her sister's small wish come true. "Wait here for a minute, Babygirl, I've got to go talk with Him."
Anna's eyes bugged out and as Gwendolyn was turning to walk out of the room Anna reached out and grabbed onto the back of her shirt. "Don't go ask Him if He's going to hurt you again," she pleaded in a dismal childlike plea.
Gwendolyn pried her sister's grip off of her shirt and patted her hand. "Don't worry, Babygirl." She smiled then turned and left the room making sure to close it behind her, just in case something unexpected happened when she approached Him.
As soon as I am back in my car ready to go I can't help but let a very unladylike string of curses pass my lips. I don't like being in situations like this, somehow I always come out to be the bad guy. Was it my fault that I am so jaded when it comes to my sister that I can't help but be just a little bit cynical when it came to every situation she is involved in.
I can picture the whole scenario now: this little boy, Andy, and his mother would build Anna up to be this wonderful hero and she would let them down. She might even use the mother's gratitude against her by taking some money or maybe even just using her as a quick fling. Anna did these sorts of things. Cameron was attractive and Anna was never picky. She'd worm her way into those people's lives and when she was through with them she'd throw them away like they meant nothing and were nothing. Anna just did those sorts of things.
Of course, after her joyride was complete I'd be left to pick up all the damnable pieces. I'd hold the crying mother in my arms and I'd tell the little boy that it really wasn't his fault. I'd have to, of course, pay them back every single dime that Anna took from them and I'd have to kiss some major ass so that they wouldn't sic the police on her. I don't like dealing with the police and really wish to avoid doing so.
Oh and let's not forget Melody either. She'd break the child's heart once again and I'd be the one left to tell her that her mother really does love her she just has a few problems. I'd be the one left holding my niece while she was crying because her mother had broken yet another promise.
Well fuck all that. I don't need to go through all that again. I don't need to pick up any more pieces. I could just leave this damn hospital and never come back again. It would be better for me and it would be better for Melody. The mother and her little boy, I'm sure, can take care of themselves. Cameron looked like a fully capable woman, even if she did let her son almost drown in a drainage system. She was big and strong. She could be big and strong against whatever Anna threw at her.
Yeah, so I've decided. Just fuck the whole thing. I have other places to be and other things to do. I don't need to take care of any more of Anna's problems. Of course, I'd take care of the hospital bill, because who else was going to do that. Anna certainly wouldn't have the money and there was no way that I'd let the Mom take care of it.
I put my car in reverse and speed on out of that hospital parking lot. I'm going to come back. I just need to go home and see my daughter and then everything will be just fine and dandy, emphasis on the dandy part.