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Chapter 3

Since Cody was too sick to come to the skatepark, Ryan decided to go by himself to pass the time.

It was incredibly boring, coasting up the ramps alone. After spending only half an hour at the park, he headed home, wishing Cody could hurry up and stop being sick. He’d been sick on and off for, like, three weeks.

With the use of his free foot, Ryan pushed himself up the driveway on his skateboard, past his sisters. Jodi and Shirley were lying on their stomachs in the driveway, propped up on their elbows and illustrating the pavement with chalk. Cody could have been enjoying the sunshine as well, but Mom was making him stay inside, which sucked.

"Where's your helmet?" Shirley questioned, rising up from the hot driveway.

"Don’t need one," said Ryan.

Twisting the knob, he stepped into the house, the air conditioning sweeping over his body and bringing him a refreshing breeze. The house smelled like Kraft Dinner, which meant lunch was probably almost ready. The only thing he could hear was the tortured sound of vomiting erupting from the living room, and he cringed. It must've been terrible for Cody to have to deal with some kissing disease that came from absolutely nowhere in particular. The doctor had been right; who would he have been kissing? Ryan peeked over the sofa to see Cody lying there, wrapped in a woolly blanket like a fajita, grasping a vomit-filled bowl.

Ryan gagged at the sight, tearing his eyes away. "Gross, dude.”

Cody said nothing, just looked up. His eyes were only half-opened, and they were red-rimmed, like he’d been crying again. His face crumpled like aluminum as he leaned back onto the pillow, breathing heavily like he was trying not to puke. Ryan walked past him and fell into the other couch, deciding that watching TV would distract him from Cody’s state. He didn’t want to look at his brother; it was almost making him feel nauseated, too.

Mom came out of the kitchen with a tiny bowl of Kraft Dinner and gave it to Cody. He stared at it like it was manure. “Try and eat some of this,” she said, kneeling down beside him. “You need to put some food in your tummy.”

She stepped away to call Jodi and Shirley inside, and when they raced through the door, Ryan followed them into the kitchen. He tried to concentrate on eating, or maybe even having a conversation with his sisters, but the sound of Cody gagging didn’t help. He turned to watch Cody’s shaking hand bring his own spoon to his lips, but within seconds, it was replaced with the vomit bowl. Ryan felt equally as bad for the bowl as he did for his brother. “Doesn't that liquidy stuff work?" Ryan asked as he watched Cody grip the bowl tightly, preparing to throw up again. It was making Ryan lose his appetite.

“The Tylenol?” said Mom.


“It's supposed to.” Mom stood to go back to the living room. “His system just isn't agreeing with anything right now, but if this continues, we might have to make another trip down—”

  "No," Cody interrupted.

"Would you rather die?" Ryan cut in, and instantly regretted it at the horrified expression on his mother's face.

“You might have to go,” said Mom.

“But they let me come home.”

“Sometimes, people get better faster when they’re at home. But you seem to be getting worse.”



Evening was quick to pass, and before long, Cody was lying in his own bed, blankets upon blankets stacked on top of his body. Sleep seemed to greet him like an old friend, and he was out like a light in minutes. Ryan felt like asking him if he was going to be okay, although that was a dumb thing to ask of someone who'd been puking his guts up all day. Ryan still wondered what it felt like to be that sick. He felt like a stalker, sitting at the foot of Cody's bed and watching him sleep, watching his chest rise and fall unevenly. At times, he even wheezed the slightest bit, and Ryan's heart would do a little flip-flop of its own. What if the mono stopped his breathing? What if he choked on his own vomit in the middle of the night, when no one was awake to bring him back to life?

Mom stepped into the room then, a sleeping Shirley slung over her shoulder and dangling awkwardly. "What are you doing?" she asked, ducking slightly through the doorway as to not jar Shirley awake by having her head smashed against it.

Ryan glanced at Mom with worried eyes. "Is that normal?" he said, pointing at Cody.

"Is what normal?"

"He sounds like an old man with an oxygen tube. He'll stop breathing for, like, five seconds, and then do it again. And when he does breathe, you wouldn't know if it was his breathing or Shirley trying to whistle."

"He's okay. Since when have you taken to watching your siblings' sleep?"

"I'm not watching. It's just noticeable."

Mom chuckled. "Well all right. You've got to get into your own bed and get some sleep. It's getting late." She ran her fingers through his brown hair and then left the room.

Ryan rose from the foot of Cody's bed, still watching, still listening to the snore-like sounds that came through his nose. Sometimes he shuddered, and Ryan wondered if he was having a nightmare. He rolled, making a slow wheezing sound, followed by a barely-audible grunt. Keeping his eyes locked on his uncomfortable brother, Ryan stepped backwards sluggishly and crawled into his own bed. He tossed the covers over his head to block out the horrifying sound of Cody's sleeping. Gradually, the sound began to worsen, and Ryan squeezed his eyes shut, worrying about what it could mean. It didn't seem to bother Mom, though, as she considered it normal for a sick person. Yeah, for a dying ninety-year-old, Ryan thought to himself.

The sounds continued on for only a few more minutes, and then silence. Ryan's breath hitched in his throat, and he could swear his heart stopped beating for a few seconds like it would when he sneezed. At first, he was afraid that Cody had stopped breathing altogether, but the silence was followed by the soft melody of even breathing, breathing that would come from a normal person. Ryan sighed with relief, and for a quick second, he thought he could hear Mom doing the same. Bringing the blankets away from his eyes, Ryan rose into a sitting position, peering over the foot of Cody's bed once more. This time, his chest rose and fell evenly. No unusual sounds escaped his nostrils. And there was no awkward twitching. All seemed well.

Submitted: August 17, 2020

© Copyright 2022 BriannasBooks. All rights reserved.


Add Your Comments:



Very underrated. This is pretty good

Mon, August 24th, 2020 3:09am


Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it :)

Mon, August 24th, 2020 5:54am


All does seem well, but even those words are deceiving sometimes. It must be difficult for Cody to try to eat something because his body is not agreeing with it, and that is the first sign that it is more than just feeling sick. Something deep under the surface is life threatening, and the shocking thing is, that they don't know it yet. It's great that Mom is thinking like this because she will know that if something gets worse, she will have to take Cody back to the hospital. It was a brilliant line in which Cody said the hospital said it's ok for him to go home because he is fine, but Mom points out that he is getting worse, so they may have to arrange another visit. Talk about the realism of life being more than harsh.

Ryan is investigating every movement of Cody, and that is being more than a brother. He seems to understand the realism of life, especially when people get better, or when people get worse. Everything else is becoming boring to him because the fun has disappeared. It's like he is already preparing for the worst.

This is an underrated novel Brianna. It deserves so many more reads. I love how slowly you are making Cody feel lifeless, and that he will start learning that things you hear, are so different from things that are happening. Your writing style makes this so clear, because you are just telling your story. I'm always impressed by your work. Brilliant :)

Mon, August 24th, 2020 10:04pm


I agree, sometimes those words really do seem deceiving. Everyone knows that Cody may have to go back to the hospital, but they're definitely not expecting a life threatening situation to come out of it. Cody has so much trust in the doctors because it doesn't seem like they can do any wrong, but mom knows better lol.

Once again, I'm really glad you're enjoying this! I still have one more teaser chapter to post lol so I'll definitely be looking forward to your comments :) Thank you so much as always :)

Mon, August 24th, 2020 6:14pm

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