Anything You Say or Do | Teen Ink

Anything You Say or Do

October 13, 2011
By 2016gymnastics BRONZE, Grosse Pointe, Michigan
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2016gymnastics BRONZE, Grosse Pointe, Michigan
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Seeing my mother cry for the first time was something I never expected. She sat on the worn leather couch clutching her knees, her eyes welling with tears. Suddenly, her dry hands reached for mine, and she pulled me into her arms. “Jenny, its Lulu. She... she has cancer.”

At that moment, everything stopped. The yellow daisies perched on the side table suddenly reminded me of funerals rather than a summer afternoon. July became cold, and my mother’s grasp seemed suffocating, rather than comforting. I couldn’t believe it. Lulu Caruso, my best friend, captain of the basketball team, was dying. My mom never came out and said how severe it was, but I could tell by the look in her eyes that this was a matter of life or death. I was so shocked that I hadn’t started crying until I began to speak. “Is it serious?”

“Yes,” she replied solemnly, “its lung cancer. She’s in line for a transplant, but her blood type is so rare that it is hard to tell what will happen. She’s over at Mount Sinai Hospital, so you have to remember that she is in the best possible hands.” My eyes dropped and I began tracing every piece of furniture with my eyes, just looking for anything to distract me from this nightmare. It was her father’s fault- that I was sure of. He was a serial smoker who popped a cigarette whenever Lulu is around.

Right then and there I leapt off the rugged sofa and sprinted out of the apartment building. I nearly trampled the landlord as I struggled to unlock my pink and black Schwinn from the gate. Once I was on, there was no stopping me. I didn’t even watch for cars as I raced through the twelve blocks that separated our apartment and Mount Sinai Hospital on 100th street and Fifth Avenue. I had to see her, and I knew it couldn’t wait. I learned my lesson when my dad unexpectedly passed away from a stroke. You have to take advantage of every moment you have with the people that you love, because you never know how long you have.

I threw my bike against the building and walked inside. The pale gray walls of the cancer wing made everything seem real, as if their reluctant color suddenly focused the line between reality and everything else. A nurse in electric orange scrubs walked up to me, and exclaimed in a much too chipper voice, “Honey, is everything alright? Do you need help finding something?”

“Yes, yes, my friend, Lulu Caruso? Is she here?” I said, stifling tears.

“Hmmm, no sweetie. No Lulu, we have a Lucia Caruso, is that her? Room A12.” I nodded in response as she motioned in the direction of her room. “Just follow the pink line down the hallway and it should be on your right.” I didn’t bother to take the time to thank her, I just took off down the hall. I was staring at the bright pink stripe, so out of place in its gray surroundings, that I was sure it was a failed attempt to make the hallway a bit more effervescent. That stripe and that alone was what I focused on until I reached a mammoth silver plaque. I froze when I glanced at the tall blue block letters reading A12.

I suddenly felt like a tree. An immobile redwood eternally rooted into the ground, swaying occasionally when something passed. I couldn’t move, too frightened of what existed beyond the large wooden door so I just stood there, the analog clock around the corner a constant reminder of the time passing. Eventually my legs uprooted and stepped over gray tiles until I saw her.
She looked so small, that I suddenly felt like I was standing on top of a building staring at her from up above. Her skin resembled that of a serpent’s, so discolored and almost transparent. Tubes emerged from her arms, legs, and chest. It was then that I overheard her parents talking to a large male doctor in the hallway, and my gaze dropped to the pink stripe. “As you know, she has tumors in both of her lungs, and she needs a transplant immediately. However, her blood type is so rare, that only eleven other people in the country share her type. Even then, only one is around her age, so I am sorry to say, the odds are not in her favor. It would take a miracle to get that transplant.” I glanced up to notice her mother sobbing into the arms of her father. All I could do was take Lulu’s chilled hand and pretend that everything would be alright.
She began chemotherapy the next day, with the only hope that it would keep her alive until the doctors figured out their next move. Lulu was hardly ever awake, and when she was all she wanted to do was watch television, she was so tired from the chemo that her mother had to feed her like a child. I knew she didn’t fully grasp the severity of the situation when she continued to talk about how our junior year was going to be the best yet, and when she was cured she would finally convince me to join the girls cross country team with her. I tried to play along, saying that I would never even consider joining the team, though inside I knew that if she ever did get out of here, I would join cross country in a heartbeat.

Days passed like seconds on the clock, quick and forgettable. Twenty three out of twenty four hours of the day were spent in the hospital, watching Lulu like a hawk, making sure that nothing hurt her.

One day Lulu’s pulmonologist, Doctor Scorpio came into her room and gestured for her parents to speak with him confidentially in the hall. From the expression on his face I could tell that something was gravely wrong. I could barely distinguish what he was saying, his whisper so hushed even a bat would have a hard time making out the words that emerged from his lips. Something was said about how the chemotherapy wasn’t working, and she didn’t have much time. Without a thought, I left. I had a plan, and no matter how wrong it was, I knew in my heart of hearts that it was right.

Late that night I wandered around thte nearly vacant hospital waiting for the blonde woman working at the computer to go on her break. When she finally did, I crept around the gray island and put my finger on the mouse. I pulled up Lulu’s file with ease, and quickly found what I was looking for. Sitting on the screen, in black letters, was the name Sidni Lothrop. The only person in the country who is a proper candidate for Lulu’s transplant, lived right around the corner in Harlem, a mere five minute venture via subway.

My legs moved at the speed of light in order to get to the station in time to catch the 9:57 p.m. train. When I arrived at the platform, the doors to the mammoth ivory train were closing, and the train was packed. But I would not let that stop me. My right arm extended between the two metal doors to keep them propped open as I squeezed inside the train just in time.

I set foot on the front stoop of his graffiti covered studio apartment and realized that I knew very little about this man. The few things that I did know, were that he was an eighteen year old high school dropout who was living on his own with a criminal record of assault and battery. On the door stood a large stallion-looking knocker that was all to bitter to the touch in the July heat. I knocked three times, and the door slid slightly ajar. My eyes met with the cold glare of who I assumed to be Sidni. His dark skin was battered and bruised, and before I could second guess myself, I hit him on the head with a rusted hammer, light enough that he would die, but forceful enough that he fell to the ground, unconscious. I checked his pockets for any source of identification just to make sure he was the person I’d been looking for. Sure enough, his expired driver’s license read ‘Sidni W. Lothrop’. I took another swing, a little rougher this time, and again, until his pulse was slow and he hardly drew any air. Slowly, I went out the back door and destroyed all evidence of the hammer. The second part of my plan would be the toughest to pull off—the cover-up. I hid behind a spider and cobweb infested shrub and reached in my knapsack for my wig, trench coat, and glasses. I picked up my old flip phone and dialed the numbers that everyone in the US knows- 9-1-1. When the operator picked up the phone I tried to sound panicked.

“Yes, yes. I was taking a walk before bed, and I saw a man in his apartment on west 19th street, and he’s been injured badly. I can’t tell exactly what happened simply by looking at him but you need to get someone over here. Quickly… please!” Within minutes the ambulance arrived, red lights blaring. I pretended to cry as a tall, stocky policeman asked me what happened. Thankfully they were sloppy and forgot to ask me my name. they insisted on bringing me to the hospital, but I insisted that I had to get home before my mother began to worry, and ran for the subway station.

Once I arrived at the hospital, I quickly escaped to the food court to buy a chocolate milk to make it seem like all that time I had been eating dinner. On the twenty second trip from the food court to Lulu’s room in the cancer wing, I began to worry that something had happened to her. Walking into her room, I saw her parents sitting at her bedside, still as statues, staring at her electrocardiogram just listening to the steady pulse of her heartbeat.

“Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Caruso, sorry I wasn’t here; I was down in the cafeteria eating dinner. Has the doctor been in recently?” I received nothing but empty and meaningless nods from her parents, and as if on cue, Dr. Scorpio entered the hospital with an unreadable expression on his face.

“It appears that Sidni Lothrop, Lucia’s only possible donor has passed away suddenly. If you want to sign off on it, the transplant of his lungs can begin immediately.” With that, he handed Lulu’s mom and dad a stack of papers. They were so shocked that they hardly knew what to say. Tiny half-crescent smiles crept on their faces. The kind of expression one gets when they have the sudden realization that there is light at the end of the tunnel. For just a second, I let myself be excited for Lulu, but my smile quickly faded when I remembered that Sidni W. Lothrop had to pay the price for it.

When her bed was rolled into surgery, everyone had a positive look on their face, that didn’t last very long. The surgery went fine, with no complications, but when she was in recovery, her body was having an unusually hard time not rejecting her new set of lungs.

The morning of August 21st started out like any other. Four days into the recovery process and hardly making it through each day took a toll on Lulu, so we just sat around her hospital bed watching cheesy soap operas all morning. But a few minutes after the head nurse, Craig brought in her lunch, Lulu began to shake. Her electrocardiogram was going crazy, beeping in every tone and length you can imagine. Doctors rushed in and out of her room yelling at each other. Eventually they pushed her bed into the intensive care unit, and little did I know that I would never again see my best friend, Lulu Caruso.
Hours passed, with no news on her condition coming from the operating room. Things began to look peculiar when an officer from the New York Police Department showed up and began watching me out of the corner of his eye. I tried my best to maintain my composure, but I knew I was in trouble when he asked me to step into the other room with him.
The first thing he did was point at a dated television, about the size of a cereal box, and play back some footage. I recognized it right away-- Sidni’s studio apartment in Harlem. You could clearly see everything that happened. It was me, they knew it was, and I had no excuse. “Jenevieve Rolo, you have the right to remain silent. Remember, anything you say or do can and will be used against you in the court of law,” and he carried me away with cuffs around my wrists.
The last part of his speech was wrong. Anything I said or did wouldn’t be used against me in the court of law, because I wasn’t given a court date. The judge felt he needed no further information, so he sentenced me to a lifetime in federal prison on account of first degree murder.
The worst part of it was that they never told me whether or not my actions were in vain. I was never told whether Lulu lived or died. And I guess I would never know.

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