My eyes darted around the water, and I spun around wondering where she could’ve been. “This isn’t funny, Ali.” I tried to say strongly, but my voice was quivering. I stopped still when I saw a few bubbles appear on the surface of the water a few feet away. I instinctively dove under the dirty water and searched for her.
I opened my eyes under the water, but it was so hard to see anything. A flash of red went by me, and I kept swimming to see Ali sinking to the bottom. I grabbed her and pushed myself back up to the surface. I gasped for air, and struggled to keep Ali above the water. She was unconscious, or at least I hoped so. I draped her over my back and stayed to catch my breath for a moment.
A few houses lined what I can only imagine was a street in the distance. It took me about half an hour to get there; it would’ve taken about ten minutes if I didn’t have Ali on my back. The houses looked like new developments. They were three floors, although the basements were all most likely flooded. I wasn’t even sure if anyone was in the houses, but I had to try.
I lugged Ali up onto the porch and laid her down carefully as I approached the door. After knocking for a few minutes, I could tell no one was home, if anyone lived there in the first place? The door was still locked, so I tried to open a window. I finally gave up and grabbed a large rock from under the water. After smashing it through the window, I climbed through it and unlocked the front door.
Ali was breathing, which was a relief. I had no idea what I would do without her. I placed her on a large suede sofa in the living room, and went on a tour of the house. It seemed strange to know that just outside was a disgusting current of water up to our shoulders, while in here was a luxurious new home. I checked the basement door, and sure enough it was flooded almost all the way up the steps.
Next, I went to the taps and saw that the water was working, but not the hot water. The electricity was out too, but I expected that. It seemed people were moving into the house. When I went up into the bedrooms, there were boxes of clothes and the beds were messily made. There were three rooms, one girls one boys and one parent’s room. I sighed and went back downstairs to check up on Ali.
She was awake and sitting upright on the sofa. “I passed out again, didn’t I?” She moaned. “I’m afraid so.” I replied, sitting in an armchair next to her. “How’s the wound feeling?” I asked. “Not great.” She said, lifting her shirt and craning her neck so she could see. The bandage was falling apart and blood was seeping out steadily. I tried to hide a cringe and cleared my throat instead.
“Maybe you should take a shower to clean it up a little. The water is cold, but at least it’s clean.” I suggested. “You can find some new clothes in the rooms upstairs.” I finished, fidgeting with my t-shirt. It was the first time I noticed I was wearing my new t-shirt. It was now torn at the bottom and covered in dirt and blood and who knows what else from the water.
After mentioning a shower, it made me want to shower. I was suddenly aware of how bad I smelled, and how dirty I felt and must’ve looked.
A clean house can make you a little more self-conscious it seems. Ali nodded slowly to my suggestion, and I helped her upstairs. She went into the girls’ room and rummaged through the closet. After eventually finding something that fit, she went into the bathroom. While she was in there, I found a huge white t-shirt in the Dad’s dresser and started ripping it into strips for new bandages.
I waited by the stairs until Ali came out. She ran out of the bathroom, lifting an oversized shirt up high enough so that no blood would get on it. “Quick, bandage me up!” She said, turning around. I worked fast, tying knots tightly and making sure it was padded enough. When I was done, Ali sighed and pulled the shirt back down. “It seems the girl who lived here liked big shirts and short shorts.” She laughed. It was nice to see her smile.
Ali pulled her wet hair into a ponytail and went downstairs. That cold shower really woke her up. I searched the boys’ room, but everything was too small. It was all eight year old clothes. I knew for a fact I couldn’t wear the Dad’s clothes. I had almost given up when I saw a box at the top of his closet. It was labeled ‘Hand-me-downs’. I pulled it down and smiled. The clothes looked a little big, but they would do. I grabbed a shirt and shorts and ran for the shower.
The water was freezing, and at first I thought being clean might not even be worth it, but after a while it just felt refreshing. I cleaned my hair and scrubbed the dirt off of me. After that, I joined Ali downstairs. She was looking through the fridge. “Do you think this has all gone bad?” She asked. I peered into the fridge. I had absolutely no idea how long it had been since the flood. I decided it was probably best to leave the fridge alone.
We took anything and everything out of the cupboards. We filled up and school snacks and cookies, chips and even beans. The pink evening turned into a pitch black night. Ali yawned and said, “I have dibs on the master bedroom.” I laughed. “It’s yours. I’m just happy to sleep on a bed.” I admitted.
Drearily, we headed up the stairs and into the different bedrooms. “See you tomorrow, Sam.” Ali said, rubbing her eyes. “Goodnight.” I replied. I thought for sure I would sleep that night. After all of that, not even nightmares would stop me.
Unfortunately, my dreams decided to challenge me on that thought. I jumped out of sleep after having the exact dream I had the previous night. It’s not even a nightmare. I told myself, Just go back to sleep. I got up and looked out the window. The stars were flickering and my stomach did flips. I still didn’t know why that memory was bugging me so much. But as I stared at the night sky, I knew exactly why.
Grammy was the dying star. She shined the brightest because she had all the attention on her. Suddenly I knew what my Mother was saying. She was telling me, Sam, when you’re dying you get all the attention. That’s just how it is. I couldn’t help but smile a little at how ironic that was. That wasn’t the reason my stomach did flips when I had that dream, though.
It was because I couldn’t stop thinking that Ali was a dying star too. I climbed back into bed and stared at the ceiling. Ali was bleeding out, and I had no way of stopping it unless I got her to a hospital. The thing was she wasn’t strong enough to walk all day. I suddenly felt the need to check up on her. Don’t be a creeper. She’s fine. My brain said. But my heart said, Go see if she’s all right. After a few more minutes of debating with myself, I got up and sneaked into the master bedroom. I crept in just far enough to see the sheets moving up and down as she breathed. With a sigh of relief, I turned around.
I winced as the floor creaked. It turns out Ali was a very light sleeper. Something I wish I had taken into account. She screamed and jolted upright. “No, it’s okay it’s just me.” I said quietly. “Sam, what are you doing!? She asked, still in shock. “Nothing, I was just checking…” I had no idea how to explain myself. Even in the darkness I could see the confusion on her face.
“Sorry…” I concluded, and ran back to my room. I flopped down on the bed, feeling the most embarrassed I had ever been. That was until I heard the hysterical laughter coming from the master bedroom….
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