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Darren ran after her, but fell as he got close to her. He tried to stand, but quickly crumbled to the ground. When he landed, he leaned over and rubbed his ankle. Jack ran towards him and dropped to the ground examining Darren’s ankle.
“Jack, go after Sarah. You know she’ll do something stupid.”
“Let her. I’m tired of babysitting her.”
I walked down the bank past the boys to look for my mom or Sarah as I was to call her. Darren hollered, “Be careful. You never know what you'll find her doing.”
My stomach started to turn as walked further down the bank. I walked past a couple holding hands and laughing. I turned around, stopped and asked them, “Did you see a girl run past here?”
The lady responded, “She walked up the hill and into the trees. She was scary looking.”
“Thank you,” I said as I walked away and towards the small hill.
The hill was steeper than I thought. I slid down some as I tried to climb it. It was very muddy. The knees of my jeans were wet, and my hands had mud on them. I wiped them on my shirt. When I got to the top, I wasn’t sure which direction to walk. It was so dark nothing could be seen.
I walked into the trees a few feet away and something grabbed my ankle. I jumped. An evil laugh came from the ground. “I knew one of you would come looking for me. Look, I killed a rabbit with my bare hands, but something bit me on my leg. I can’t move. I couldn’t see what it was.”
“I’ll call for Jack, because Darren got hurt also.”
“Wow, crazy! Well go on, yell. The pain doesn’t feel like a feather tickling me.”
“Jack! Come up here! Sarah is hurt too.”
“Damn, I gave birth in the future to a girl who has lungs. You do have a bit of me in you.”
I heard the grass rustling, so I stepped out and saw Jack approaching. “She can’t walk either. Something bit her.”
“Her crazy ass needs to go back to the nuthouse. She’s crazy. You need to stay away from her.”
“I hear you Jack,” Sarah said snidely.
“I don’t give a shit. Once we get you to the hospital, I’ll call your dad and tell him to lock you up again.”
“Again?” I asked.
“Yes, again. They need to throw away the key.”
“Jack, honey, come carry me down to the car. I can’t walk,” Sarah whined.
“I’ll dump you down the hill. Don’t think I won’t. I can’t stand you Sarah. Whenever you’re around, crazy things happen. Jennifer, stay away from her. I don’t care if I’m your only friend, she’s not safe to be around.”
I wanted to tell him that I had to be for my research paper. I was regretting this project. I could see I had a lot of my mom’s personality when it came to persistence. I was independent like her and wanted what I wanted.
Jack picked her up and walked sideways down the hill trying to hold his balance. His legs slid and he almost fell a couple of times. Halfway down, he put her on the ground and told her to scoot down. I laughed, watching.
When she was at the bottom, Jack picked her up and carried her to the car. He set her in the passenger seat, turned the dome light on, and looked at her ankle. “Looks like a snake bite. Better get you to the hospital, but I would rather watch you die.”
In the dark, Sarah’s eyes turned a fire red, “You’ll regret saying that.”
Jack walked away towards Darren who was sitting on the ground. Watching as Darren leaned on Jack on the way back to the car. Darren crawled into the back seat with me.
Upon arriving at the hospital, Sarah had passed out. Jack took her into the emergency room first. I followed and sat with her in front of the nurse. Sarah was slumped over in a wheel chair.
“I need your friend’s information dear. Does she have insurance. What’s her name? What’s her date of birth?”
Darren came up behind me and saved the day, “She isn’t going to know that information. They just met today. Take her back and treat her. Jack is calling her parents.”
“Sir, I can’t do any treatments until I have her information.”
Darren slammed his fist down on the counter, “Treat her. Her parents can be here in five minutes. She was bit by a damn snake we think. Get her back there now!”
The older nurse called someone, “I have a possible snake bite up here. I need to get this young woman to a room stat. She is passed out.”
A young man wearing white scrubs came to get her. He wheeled her through the double doors. Darren hopped on one foot to a pay phone. I watched from a distance as he called her parents. I slinked around the corner hoping to remain unnoticed. I didn’t want them to see me. I know I was the future for them, but I didn’t want to take any chances.
I walked out of the hospital unseen and down the sidewalk. I wasn’t sure where to go, but I knew I couldn’t be there when my grandparents got there. As I entered the crosswalk, a boy on a bicycle wheeled past me. I heard crickets chirping in the silent night. Even in 2017, our town was quiet. Not much has changed.
I thought about what was going on on campus and how different it could be. Walking towards campus I heard loud music and yelling. When I approached the fraternity house, some guys were holding a naked man from the window. Another guy was spitting beer on him. It had to be hazing time, which is illegal for us.
The paternity house was a few doors down. It was a little quieter, but I could still hear music. I peered through the windows as I walked by, and a girl was wearing only her underwear and bra, in the middle of a circle of girls. She was laughing as she spun around.
The campus was still set up in what we called "pod style." Each area of study had its own building. In the center of each building was a study area and library. Beer cans and kegs littered the lawns. It was sad for me to see. If this happened in 2017, we would be expelled from school. No alcohol or parties were allowed on campus.
Eventually arriving at my grandparents’ home, I had the urge to go in, but I saw a single lamp on in the window. Grandpa sat in the chair looking out the window with a worried look on his face. I guessed it was probably about one in the morning. Grandma walked into the living room and handed him a cup of coffee and leaned down to kiss him. She sat on an old couch looking out. I saw tears streaming down her face.
The front door opened and I ran behind a tree so they wouldn’t see me. I peeked my head around and saw my Aunt Sherry standing in the yard in her pajamas. Her long brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, she crossed her arms in front of her thin body, and looked around.
“Sarah, you bitch, where are you? You aren’t doing this to mom and dad anymore. I’ll make sure they put you back in the hospital and you won’t leave this time.”
I wanted to step out and tell her that she was in the hospital, but I couldn’t. Mom warned me to not let them see me. I can’t change anything that could alter the future.
Crunching down in front of the tree, I began to cry. My grandparents didn’t have it easy with my mom. I couldn’t imagine what they felt.
I heard a door slam and I looked around and saw Aunt Sherry went inside. I stayed by the tree and wondered why no one had called. Darren said at the hospital that Jack was calling them.
The garage door opened and grandpa’s truck backed out and bounced over the curb into the street. I looked over and saw my grandma in the truck also. Aunt Sherry came back out yelling again in the front yard.
“I swear to god Sarah, this is it. You’re finished in this family!”
A neighbor yelled, “Shut up or I’m calling the cops again. Crazy family!”
I watched for Aunt Sherry to go back in and shut off the lights. I snuck in the back door, because I knew that was the one door they didn’t lock. I snuck into my mom’s room because I wanted to see it. Posters lined the wall of hair band musicians. Dream catchers hung from the ceiling. I sat on the bed and looked around. This room is the room I slept in. They really did get rid of any memory of my mom other than the box.
On her dresser was the cedar box. I opened it up to see jewelry and pictures of her and Darren. Looking in the mirror I saw a reflection of my mother. I looked just like her. On the chair in the corner hung a brown leather jacket. I put it on and wrapped my arms around myself. I wondered what it would have felt like to have my mom comfort me when I was sad growing up.
I went back downstairs and heard my stomach growl. I knew grandma kept leftovers just for snacks. I opened the refrigerator and found some macaroni-and-cheese. Opening the silverware drawer, I heard the garage door open. Grabbing a spoon, I made sure to shut the drawer, snuck out the back door. I jogged over to grandma’s garden and sat in the middle of it where no one could see me.
While eating the cold food, I heard the back-door open and my grandparents stepped outside and sat on the porch swing.
“Well, this time she did it. They found drugs and alcohol in her system on top of being bitten by a snake. Thanks to Darren and Jack for being there. Who is Jennifer?” Grandma asked.
“Jack said a new girl in town that Sarah found. We need to find her parents and warn them to keep that poor girl away from Sarah. She will get that poor girl involved in drugs.”
“No, not this time. We’re locking her up.” Grandma said.
“How? We can’t keep her in her room. I don’t know what to do anymore.”
“She has to go back into the hospital. We can’t keep doing this. She can stay until she turns eighteen. We don’t have any other choice.”
“The doctors need to figure out what’s wrong with her. We’ve been going through this for two years. The abortions, the drugs, running away, I can’t take it anymore. Part of me wishes she would overdose and, at least if she’s in heaven, I know she’s not in danger. It breaks my heart to wish my child dead.”
“Alice, you can’t think that way.”
“I do. If the kids hadn’t taken her to the hospital, she would have died and my worry would be over.”
The grandma I was hearing, wasn’t the grandma who raised me. This is a grandma who had had enough, and wanted it to all end.
After they went in, I went back to the hospital and snuck into my mom’s room. She opened her eyes when she heard me walk in. I sat in the chair beside her and looked at her. An overwhelming feeling of sadness took over as I looked at her. I saw a very sick person laying in the bed. It wasn’t sick from the snake bite, it was an illness in her eyes that I finally saw.