“Josh? Where have you been all night?”
“Leave me alone.”
“It’s almost four a.m.”
“It’s none of your business. Just go to sleep, Wendy.”
“Just shut up!”
I had a younger sister. Her name was Wendy, six years younger than me. We were never the “close” type of siblings. Well, she may have attempted to become like that, but I always pushed her away. I saw her as annoying, pestering, and vexing. I never noticed how she really cared for me, despite me being so horrible toward her.
I was in my sophomore year of high school. She was in fourth grade.
I came home late again, hanging out with friends outside until almost five a.m. I opened the door with my keys. My parents were asleep like usual. They were used to my daily rebellious attitude, so I was sure that they were fed up dealing with me. But Wendy never gave up on me.
Wendy had exams the next day, so she had fallen asleep. My stomach growled. I went over to the kitchen to grab some food when I saw something wrapped on the table. I walked toward it and saw a sticky note on it.
Here’s your dinner for tonight! I saved some of my share for you! Hope you had a great day.
I rolled my eyes. I opened the plastic wrap and saw all the dishes neatly separated. Like I was going to eat this. I took the plate and threw the entire meal in the trash.
If I knew that it was going to be like this, I would have eaten the meal.
I went into the cabinet and grabbed a bowl of ramen. I would rather have junk food than eat anything my family made.
“Josh?” I felt someone shaking my shoulder.
I opened my eyes to see exactly who I expected: Wendy. I slapped her hand off my shoulder and rolled my body to face the wall.
“Hey, it’s time for school,” she said, grabbing my shoulder again. “Get up, Josh!”
I groaned and sat up. “Will you shut up?” I barked at her. “I’m not going!”
“You’re annoying me!” I shouted, covering myself with my blankets.
I felt her hand let go of my shoulder. “O-Oh…” she said. “I’m sorry, Joshua.” She walked away.
That was our everyday morning.
I had always skipped morning lessons in the past. If I did attend, I just fell asleep in class. It wasn’t a big deal honestly. I had good grades. I didn’t need to listen to lectures to learn. As long as I kept my straight A’s, my parents would not scold me for my actions.
Usually around noon, I would wake up and head to the classes I had after lunch period. But my friends and I would just mess around, getting our classmates to go along with us. We were troublemakers, notorious to teachers, popular to students.
That day, my friends and classmates had gone to a party until two in the morning.
If I knew that it would be like this, I would have gone home right away.
When I got home late at night, I saw my sister waiting at the doorstep. She was crying and shivering, wearing a thick white sweater. Her nose and fingertips were bright red from the cold. When she saw me, instantly her face brightened into a smile.
“Welcome home, Josh!” she exclaimed, following a sneeze. She extended her hand toward me. “Let’s go home.”
Why was she always like this? How would she benefit from waiting for me to come home every day and then catching a cold? She did this often, despite her already sickly stature. Seeing her like this always ruined my day. Was she trying to make me look bad?
“Are you trying to look pitiful?” I asked her in an nonchalant fashion.
“Huh?” she said in surprise.
I began to lose my mind, unable to hold in my anger. “Crying and waiting for your older brother to come home like this every day,” I said in exasperation. “Are you trying to get our neighbors to pity you? To think that you’re so caring and I’m such a disgrace to our family?”
“What are you saying, Josh?” she said warily. “It’s not like that at all—”
“Oh, look at their son, Joshua,” I said, imitating the voices of our neighbors. “Coming home so late on a daily basis while their exemplary daughter is always so obedient.” I glared at her angrily. “You just want to make me look bad, don’t you?”
“No!” Wendy cried, instantly standing up. Her eyes were full of tears again. “I was just worried about you, Joshua! I never know what you’re even doing so late!”
“Why are you crying again?” I shouted back, digressing from the topic. “Crybabies like you just irk me.”
She used the sleeves of her sweater to wipe her tears, but she could not stop crying. “I’m sorry,” she whimpered. “I’m sorry. It’s my fault you’re like this.”
“Huh?” I said.
“Because of me, you don’t even want to come home,” she said. She looked at me in the eye. “Because of me… Mom and Dad don’t look at you or pay attention to you anymore, right?”
My eyes widened. I opened my mouth to speak, but I felt a lump in my throat. Maybe it was because I was immature. Maybe it was because I could only think for myself, being self-centered. But the me at the time… I didn’t want to accept it. She had hit my most vulnerable spot. I didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that I was envious, or jealous of my sister.
“D-Don’t,” I managed to cough out. “Don’t talk like you know how I feel!”
“If you really think that way,” I said. “Why don’t you just die?”
If I knew that it would be like this, I wouldn’t have said such words to you.
Wendy’s tears suddenly stopped. Her arms dropped to the side as her face seemed to freeze. She looked as if she was void of emotions, as if at that moment, I had already stolen her life. “Joshua,” she said. “I… I—”
“Just get out of my life already!” I screamed like a child.
If I knew that those would have been my last words to her…
She stood still for about five seconds, needing time to process what I just said to her. Suddenly, everything seemed to go in slow motion to me. I never saw her expression after I said that. Her bangs covered her face as she walked past me.
“Okay,” she said.
I turned around and watched her walk away in the night. Where is she going? Something told me that I should have chased after her, but the prideful, egocentric me didn’t allow it. Instead, I ignored her and went back into the house.
I looked over the kitchen table. Like usual, she had used plastic wrap to keep my share of dinner fresh and left a sticky-note next to it. I picked up the note and read it.
Here’s your dinner! Hope you had a nice day and had fun with your friends at school!
How many times did she have to do this for her to understand that I would never eat it? I crumbled up the post-it note and threw it in the trash along with the food.
I should have eaten the meal. I should have thanked her for always caring for me when no one else would.
I went to take a shower, going through my daily routines before I went to sleep. I was about to go to bed when suddenly, I heard my home phone ring from the living room.
I groaned as I opened the door to the living room. Who was it at this hour? I walked over and picked up the phone.
“Is this the family of Miss Wendy?” an unfamiliar voice replied.
“Yes?” I said, a bit confused. Who was this man?
“I am calling from the hospital,” the man said. “Your family member was in an accident. She is in critical condition. If you are her guardian, we ask that you come immediately.”
I dropped the phone, frozen in shock. I began to panic. Wendy’s health was already bad, and now she had to get into an accident. My parents had gone on a business trip, so I could not get ahold of them, not that I even had their phone numbers either. And how would I get to the hospital? The buses didn’t operate at this time. Uber was closed.
Why don’t you just die?
A shiver went down my spine. Why did I say that? What if she actually took me seriously?
Just get out of my life already!
Why did I say those words? What had I done?
I grabbed my jacket and ran out the door without thinking. I jumped on my bicycle that I never used and began to pedal. The wheels were flat, but I did not have time to pump more air into it. This was the fastest way I could get to Wendy.
After about twenty minutes of pedaling, I had finally reached the hospital. Panting from fatigue, I left my bicycle in the front, not caring to lock it. Sprinting into the Emergency Room, I spotted familiar brown hair spread out on a pillow. A long beep echoed in the room.
In the beginning, I simply just watched. It was as if my legs were made of lead.
“Patient is under cardiac arrest!”
I watched a doctor cut open her red sweater with a scissor, exposing her stomach and chest area. No, that sweater was white. It had just become covered in her own blood. The doctor pressed the stereoscope on her chest.
“Blood pressure 70/40,” another doctor said, looking at a black and green virtual chart. She unwrapped the sphygmomanometer, a device to measure blood pressure, off Wendy’s wrist. “Glasgow Coma Scale 5.”
A doctor brought two orange pads, placing them on Wendy. “120 joules! Stand back!” he exclaimed. Instantly, all doctors and nurses stood back. Wendy’s body lunged forward, reacting to the shock.
“200 joules! Stand back!” he yelled again. Wendy’s body again jumped. He put the orange paddles away and turned to the other doctors. “What are you doing?” he yelled. “Commence CPR!”
“Y-Yes!” a doctor said, running to Wendy’s side. She began to push down on her chest. Another doctor put an airbag over Wendy’s mouth.
“Doctor!” a nurse shouted. “Her blood pressure is too low! Glasgow Coma Scale is now 3! She won’t make it!”
I couldn’t understand anything that was going on. But there was one sentence that I could comprehend for sure.
She won’t make it!
At that moment, I seemed to lose all sense of hearing. All I could hear was those words over and over again. She wouldn’t make it. She would die.
My legs lost all strength as I fell to the ground. I grasped my head and screamed.
“She has been in cardiac arrest for too long,” a doctor said. “She’s gone.”
A heavy atmosphere filled the room. All the doctors and nurses let go of her body and dropped their arms to the side.
“Time of death,” I heard a doctor say.
“Stop!” I screamed, running over to Wendy. I didn’t care that I wasn’t supposed to be in there. I couldn’t accept this. I just couldn’t. She couldn’t have died.
“Sir!” a doctor cried. “This is a restricted area!”
I put my hands over Wendy’s chest, pressing it the way I learned in Health Class. “Wendy,” I cried in desperation. “Wendy. Wendy. Wendy. Please don’t go.” I began to press even harder, to the point I broke her ribs. “Come on! Wake up!” I screamed, looking at her lifeless face. “You told me that we would go home together! So let’s go home! Get up so we can go home already!”
A doctor grabbed my arms and pulled me back, stopping me. A nurse helped him, grabbing my legs. “Sir!” he shouted. “Please calm down!”
“Let me go!” I screamed. I tried to fight his hands off me, but he was too strong. More doctors began to crowd around me, pushing me down onto the ground, ensuring that I would not be able to move. I could not even budge from the spot.
“Time of death,” the doctor from earlier said.
“Stop!” I cried. “She isn’t dead yet! I can save her! I can save her!”
“5:47 a.m. Pacific Time, December 17.”
And with that, Wendy was officially pronounced dead.
Later, after I calmed down, I found out the details of Wendy’s death. She was struck by a drunk driver soon after I sent her off earlier. A person nearby had witness the scene and called the ambulance. However, the witness also said that Wendy was not paying attention to traffic. Although it was a drunkard who hit her, the light was red.
So was it suicide or an accident?
No one knew.
I didn’t want to know the answer anyway.
On the day of Wendy’s funeral, I went to her casket and stared at her body. She was so pale and frail, yet the makeup done on her was so beautiful. She still looked alive, as if this was all a bad prank and she would wake from that casket right on the spot, laughing at me. But even I knew reality. She wouldn’t come back.
That day, I vowed to change my ways. I began to stop being rebellious. I went to school at the right time. I came home right after school, not even going to clubs. I tried to spend time as much time as I could with my family. I knew that this was what Wendy was always working hard for me to realize.
My family loved me. I was just too deluded to see it.
I never got to apologize to Wendy. I regretted saying all those words to her. Most people said that it must have been an accident, despite what the witness had said. They said that there was no way such a cheerful and bubbly girl like Wendy would commit suicide.
But somehow I felt otherwise.
Even if it was an accident, if I didn’t tell her to go away, to go die, she wouldn’t have ran into the street. She wouldn’t have crossed that road. She wouldn’t have met with the drunk driver. She wouldn’t have gone to the hospital. She would have been safe at home. She would have woken up to the next day with a smile. She would have lived.
I had killed my own sister.