I was told when I was a little girl that it’s the red and blue semi-trucks that kill the most people. When I was nine years old, that childhood myth came true. A red semi-truck neglected to stop at the sign, and a little black car went slamming head first into the side of it. In the passenger seat of that car, an eighteen year old named Amirah was thrown out of the window like a rag doll. Fifty feet and two seconds later, she was lying in a ditch, broken and unconscious. The ambulances came. Amirah and her friend Rachel were rushed to the hospital. Rachel had a few broken ribs. Amirah had major internal bleeding in her brain and liver. Four days later, Rachel went home in a cast, and Amirah had been succumbed into a coma she would never wake up from.
At the funeral a few days later, a fourteen year old girl named Aurora, a thirteen year old girl named Penelope, and an eleven year old boy named Elijah stand up in front of everyone there and grasp for every ounce of courage within them to say speeches in honor of their beloved sister.
ONE YEAR LATER
Loud, echoing clatter slams up the steps to our apartment as I peer out to window to see Aurora coming home drunk with her boyfriend. They stumble through the doorway and I tell them to come in my room before our dad wakes up. They come in my room, and almost immediately, her boyfriend starting trying to take her clothes off. “Not right now, not in front of my little sister,” she said. The expression on his face turns in a second, and he explodes. He grabs her by the neck and slams her on the floor, the area on my sister neck already turning purple. I tell him to leave, and he does. My sister springs up and tries to run after him, and I try to tell her to let him go, but she tells me to shut up, and leaves anyway. The next day, he comes over again, completely sober, and they play video games on the couch. We never spoke of it again, but I noticed bruises up and down her body for the rest of the time they were together.
A week later, she called me early in the morning and told me she didn’t know where she was. She said that she was at a rave and there was a lot of drugs. She took some pills and she couldn’t move her legs. She was thrown out because they said she was just lying there in the way of the dance floor, and now she was in an alley. She wasn’t sure where she was or where her friends went. When Penelope and I went to pick her up, she could hardly open her eyes. We slugged her on our arms and dragged her to the car. The next day, I told our dad that she fell down the stairs on the way to school, and she couldn’t go anywhere today. I stayed home and took care of her for the next three days. After mass amounts of green tea, the pills were out of her system and she could walk again. When she was completely stable, I tried to talk to her and tell her that she had to change a few things about her lifestyle. She told me I was an idiot and I needed to mind my own business.
A month later, it was my birthday. My sister Penelope’s boyfriend had offered to drive my friends and me to the park where we could eat and go swimming. About half way through our meal, we heard some people yelling in the woods that led to the swimming area. Being curious eleven year olds, my friends and I walked to see what was going on.
I found Aurora at the top of a hundred foot cliff at a place we call Stoney Point. We often go there to cliff dive into the water. But she was more upstream, where the rocks were higher, the water was faster, and the levels were shallower. I told my friends to go back to the park area and I snuck to where she was at.
She was standing on the edge, looking down at the rocks and watching the water slam into them. “Aurora?” I whispered.
She jumped and turned to look at me. Her clear blue eyes had blood shot rings surrounding them. She had this desperate look in her eye like she needed someone to save her but didn’t know how to ask, like she didn’t think she deserved it. The guilt she felt was pouring out of her like a tsunami that had been lingering in a desert for too long. “Aurora, please. Please. Just come with me.”
I told her she shouldn’t do these things to herself. I told her she was better than that. I told her that there was still so much left to live for, so much left to see. I told her about the rest of the world and the wonders she has yet to see. I reminded her about the family that she still had. I reminded her that we still cared. None of it seemed to matter. It became clear to me that she had made up her mind a long time ago, and there was no stopping her. She was determined to die.
The rest was a blur. I remember Penelope rushing up to us. I remember sitting in the car on the way to the hospital. I remember standing over her bed. I remember how cold it was on that summer day. I remember how the moon seemed to be screaming at me, yelling at me. I should have stopped her. I should have done more to help her.