My sister wasn’t dead.
I watched her chest rise…and fall.
Her breathing, although unnatural, assured me that Kelsey was alive. That her heart was still beating. A squiggly line zigzagged across the monitor mounted on the wall, supporting my speculation. The wavy line goes flat when someone dies. I’d seen that in movies.
I lifted my little sister’s hand off the white sheet, cradling it in mine. Her skin was warm and soft, yet another sign of life. I traced my thumb over her delicate fingers being careful not to brush over scrapes and bruises.
Her sparkly pink nail polish was chipped. Her fingernails jagged. My stomach lurched at the sight. How did Kelsey end up in this hospital bed, hooked up to breathing tubes and monitors, when just yesterday she wouldn’t hold still for me to paint her fingernails? “Stop moving,” I’d told her a million times. “I’m trying to make you look like a star.”
“My voice is all that matters,” she’d disputed as she tipped her head back to sip water from her Camelbak. She’d been munching on after-school snacks, and singing along with her iPod, practicing for the Meadowview Elementary School talent show. I’d been more nervous for her debut than she’d been.
I hadn’t needed to be nervous. She was adorable up on that stage. A natural performer. The memory of her young voice belting out the Taylor Swift song, her small hand gripping the microphone, and her skinny legs stepping in time to the music, played like a movie in my mind.
Only twenty-four hours later, I didn’t see even a flicker of movement in her body. Even more chilling, her voice was eerily silent.