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She sits up straight in the chair facing away from the stairs—away from me. Her spoon clinks softly as it hits the bottom of the bowl; it’s cereal, as usual. Boring. I watch her for a moment, planning my attack. I don’t move an inch: this moment has to be perfect.
The corners of my mouth twist a little when I realize she’s wearing braids; my own blond hair, squeezed into pigtails, looks identical. We look identical. Ha. I could almost laugh. But that’s what twins are for, huh. Just in case you can’t find a mirror.
“Tag, you’re it!” I shout into her ear. My timing is perfect—when I poke her, she jumps into the air. Her hands shoot up to cover her ears and her eyes scrunch closed.
“Uhh… too loud,” she moans. I laugh. No matter how many times I do this, it never gets old. I smile at her, big and bright, with all my teeth showing. It’s so fun to make her mad.
“Kate, leave your sister alone,” Mom shuffles in and fumbles for the coffee. When she turns, her eyes are still drowsy—half-asleep.
“Fine, fine,” I say, raising my hands above the table, a universal white flag. “I won’t touch her.” But I wink at her when Mom can’t see. She sticks out her tongue.
The clock is being hateful this morning—it screams that I’m late. I grab a piece of toast and whisk toward the door. My ride is waiting in the driveway; I can see the car through the window. I grab my heaviest coat and heft my book-bag onto my shoulders. But when I get to the door, I turn.
“Bye Mom, Bye Leah! Love you, have a great day!” It feels so strange to leave Leah behind. But Mom says she’ll be at school later, so I don’t say anything. I’ll make sure she’s forgiven me then (she will, I know). I wave once more and dash to the car.
At lunch, the noise is a dull roar behind every conversation—it’s like some kind of twisted theme music, but I don’t know the show. Probably something shallow and dull. I’m starting to wish Leah were here, just to break up the vapid conversation I’m trapped in. Maybe she’ll show up to save me, right now. Okay, maybe not. But how about now. Again, not so much. I excuse myself and get up to throw away my tray—momentary escape. Dealing with people isn’t usually this exhausting.
As I turn away from the table, I walk face first into Brian. Brian, who is Leah’s best friend. Brian, who has that dreamy voice and even dreamier face. My lunch goes flying.
“Oops, sorry Kate,” he says and all I can think is God, those lips. But, I remind myself, Leah has dibs—even if she won’t take them. So I half-smile at him and back away and crouch to pick up my trash. He does the same and hands me the rest.
“I was actually coming to talk to you, “he says. “Is Leah sick or something?”
Oh, she should definitely take dibs on this one. It’s hard not to stare too far into his eyes when I answer. I concentrate on speaking coherently.
“No, I don’t think so, she was just going in for a doctor’s appointment, she is supposed to be back later today, so I’ll tell her to catch up with you, you know, if she gets the chance…” I’m babbling. Message to mouth: Shut. Up. He just nods with a half-smile on his face.
“Cool. Tell her I’ll talk to her in a bit. And I’ll see you around.” With a wave, he turns around. I smile as he walks away. It’s nice to see someone so sweet so in love with my sister.
When I walk into the house, it’s quiet; I can hear the thump-thump of the laundry, the swish of the dishwasher, the voices whispering in the kitchen—I follow them to the doorway. Leah and Mom are sitting at the table—they stop talking when I walk in. Leah looks up and raises her hand at me, but Mom does not move; she stares off at the wall and does not speak.
“Hey.” I slide into the seat beside Leah. “What’s up?” She looks at Mom for a moment before she answers.
“I have something I need to tell you. “ She says it quietly, slowly, in a way that makes me nervous. I wait as she looks at Mom again. I think the clock on the wall is the loudest thing I have ever heard. She opens her mouth.
“I have cancer.”
It’s late. I’ve been here for… wait, what time is it? Maybe midnight? So probably seven hours. I bury my face back in my pillow.
“Kate? Are you awake?” Her voice is quiet. Like when she told me. Like when my world began to crumble.
“You have cancer?”The words burned as they fought their way out of my mouth. She looked down.
“How bad is it?” Did it count that my voice trembled? That tears came to my eyes? Did that count for anything? She didn’t look up.
Mom spoke instead. She tried to smile; it looked like a grimace.
“ They’re starting her on chemo tomorrow, and radiation next week, and you know they say that’s very effective, and she’s normally so healthy, so that’s supposed to …”
“A year,” Leah interrupted, her voice clear and quiet. She always was the stronger one of us all. “They said that at this point, I probably have a year.”
I was choking then. Drowning. It was so hard to breathe.
“I’m… sorry, I… I have to go.” The room spun: spun as I dashed up the steps. Spun as I ran through the doorway to my room. Spun as I wiped the tears from my eyes.
I closed the door behind me.
“Kate?” She whispers again. I lift my head so she knows I’m listening. She walks in and sits on the end of my bed, behind me; when I look, silver tears are trailing down her cheeks. I sit up and face her.
“Kate, I’m scared.” Her voice is thick. “I am so, so scared.”
“Me, too,” I whisper. And I hold her as she cries.
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
This article has 42 comments.
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(couldn't think of anything better at the time) "Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."-Dr.Martin Luther King Jr.
ARGH!!!!! This is heartbreaking and very very well written. :D I don't know what to say. You took me on a ride from the playful fight between sisters to dips on a boy to frighten news about cancer to finally dependency between them.
I didn't care about any mistake because this is sooooo well written. And at the end when Leah told Kate of how she was scared....it brought chills to my nose. Love, love, love this!! :D
P.S. Okay, so I reread this when I was watching Parent Trap. Naturally, I pictured the twins as Lindsay Lohand and how mischievous Hallie-to-Kate can be. :)
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"Don't hold your tongue, instead, hold your breath, and jump in"
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The first thing that I want to tell you is that I really liked your story, and that's something that I can't honestly say about most stories that I read on Teen Ink. You have a great writing style, and more importantly you understand the importance of substance and technique in a story, something that many people have trouble comprehending.
Now that you know that I like it, you don't have to be nervous.
First, the problems.
You have the tendency to-how do I say this-go overboard with your descriptions. I really liked the way you wrote, “At lunch, the noise is a dull roar behind every conversation—it’s like some kind of twisted theme music, but I don’t know the show.” Very good. Very.
But you seem to overdo it when you add, “Probably something shallow and dull.” It takes the poeticness (not a real word) out of that part of your story.
And in another part you say, “I’m starting to wish Leah were here, just to break up the vapid conversation I’m trapped in.” This is good, it shows that Kate has an emotional if not psychological attachment to her sister. But you ruin it when you write, “Maybe she’ll show up to save me, right now. Okay, maybe not. But how about now. Again, not so much.” This part doesn't flow very well with what you wrote before and is my biggest problem with your story. It is also kind of confusing to read.
I always like to say, “If you aren't sure how something will sound in your story, read it out loud.” That helps. A ton.
Otherwise, on the lighter side, you have great descriptions and your story flows very well. I actually couldn't have put it any better than banangela29 when she posted, “I really liked how you interwove the small, somewhat petty problem with the boy, and then BANG! reality! cancer! Very good, very startling.”
You obviously know how to craft a story.
Please keep writing and let me know if you come out with anything else.
P.S. I like your story so much that I went and read 'The Door' and liked it equally as much, if not more.
I never grade grammar.
Firstly, I'm a Texan.
Second, it usually doesn't affect how well the story is written or how original and creative it is. Thirdly, grammar is neither original or creative.
Fourthly, I have problems with it myself. (See number one)
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Live Laugh Love ~Unknown
I'm selfish, impatient, a little insecure but if you can't handle me at my worst then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best ~Marilyn Monroe
Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today. ~James Dean
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I really liked how you interwove the small, somewhat petty problem with the boy, and then BANG! reality! cancer! Very good, very startling.
Thatsaid, I thiink for a story this deep and sober, you need to use more serious language at certain points. Very good use of syntax, maybe smooth out the dialogue a bit.
Excellent job overall, though, very very good.
Be sure to take a look at some of my work if you get the chance :)
Simon Cowel feedback (you asked for it!)
Ok so this is the first article under SC feedback that I've reviewed where I could only find 2 mistakes, neither of which took anything away from the absolute masterful writing of this paper. Usually I tell people what they did good first, but for this paper i have to tell you the bad first so that I can talk about how great it is without interruptions :)
first thing was the sentence "But that's... huh." You forgot to put a ? after "huh"
then was "I’ll make sure she’s forgiven me then (she will, I know)." Forgiven for what? Also are the parentheses necessary? The narrator uses dashes and semicolons--which is GREAT. Stick to those because you use them VERY well :)
except in the sentence "She says it quietly, slowly..." where you need to replace the commas with semicolons or dashes because commas are not proper punctuation there.
NOW FOR THE GOOD STUFF
Narration was very realistic; it reminds me of Laurie Halse Anderson's style except not as annoyingly pessimistic. So you're competing with "the bard of high school tales" and that says a lot. The begining hooked me right away and I actually got really excited for a minute because I thought there was going to be a fight, then I realized it was just something friendly and warm but I was still hookd nonetheless!
There was a great twist in having Leah come down with cancer--very sad of course but it keeps th reader interested. It was especially great since you set up everything before it as a normal boring, but pleasant day, setting the guy up with her, etc. It's excellent. The writing is excellent, the environment as Kate goes from room to room is excellent; I truly think that this might be good enough to be considered by professional publishers if there's more to the story and it's just as well written and developed. But even if it's not, I still think it's probably the best article that I've read on this website so far, and you get a 5 star rating from me :)
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A picture is worth a thousand words, however it takes a real artist to turn words into pictures.
Have you heard about the new Lebron Iphone, you have to set it on vibrate because it doesn't have any rings
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"Talent is nothing without character."
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-you have many to learn but nothing to lose.
-the hardest thing to do is watch the one you love, love someone else...
-good girls are bad girls that dont get caught.
this piece is so real.
u have real talent!
im a twin:)
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"He who leaps for the sky may fall, it's true. But he may also fly."
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"Just because you can, doesnt always mean you should" ~ achreon
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Wow, this is simply beautiful. It's so sad as well. I really, really like it. You should probably try to continue with this. It would be nice if it was a full story. Also, I love the description you used.
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"A friend is someone who knows you, but loves you anyway"
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It's never to late, if it weren't for the last minute many things would never get done!
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