Chapter Two- Aiden

19 2 0
                                    


Chapter Two

Aiden 

Over the past few months, I've found dozens of terms that describe Hope. Eisenmenger syndrome—she was diagnosed with it at fourteen. Cardiac arrhythmias—she's had them for years. Medical abbreviations like EKG and WBC and BPM have ruled her life since I've known her.

Now only one term fits her. Dead. The fanciest phrase she gets is the same word a three-year-old would use to talk about his flushed goldfish.

Dad's yelling. I don't know how long he's been yelling, and I also don't know how long I've been standing in the corner of the kitchen, just clutching this textbook to my chest. I meant to go back to my room after answering the door—I'm still not sure who the guy out on the porch is, or why he thought Hope wanted him to come to my house. But if he didn't even know that Hope died, he can't be very important, so I'm not going to bother with him.

At least not now. All I want now is to find someplace quiet and hide away there. So I don't know why I came to the kitchen, since Dad's in here, and it's rarely quiet where Dad is. But it used to be Hope's favorite room in my house, and I couldn't bring myself to just walk past it.

The kitchen counter is only a foot away, and I'm tempted to set the heavy textbook down there, but it'd be wrong. That spot belonged to Hope. She always used to sit on the edge of the counter when she came over, and she'd always trace the little cracks in the tile, and she'd always tell me she wanted her own kitchen when she grew up. We both knew she'd never actually get the chance to grow up, but she'd still say it.

Dad keeps shouting as I stare down at the book in my hands. The cover looks gray to me, like everything that's not bluish, but Hope once told me the leather binding is actually red. "Like a robin," she'd said, her eyes glinting with the special sort of excitement she reserved for anything even vaguely related to art. I wish she'd never told me that—now the cover just reminds me of all the stagnant blood in her veins.

This textbook and its companions have been my obsession since I was nine. There are twenty-nine volumes in the North American Physicians Handbook Series, each around 1800 pages of ten-point type and black-and-white diagrams. I owned twenty-six of the books until about an hour ago, when I got the call from the hospital. A stroke, the nurse told me. That's what got her in the end. Now twenty-five of those textbooks are out front in the garbage, and I'm still breathing hard from flinging them there.

A wadded piece of newspaper hits my face, and I jerk my attention up to Dad. "Are you out of your mind?" he demands, gripping the edge of the kitchen table like he's considering throwing that, too. Everyone always says we look just alike, and sometimes I hate myself for that. Like now. Dad's sharp jaw is gritted, and his forehead is all scrunched, and he looks like he could really hurt someone, even though he's so scrawny.

I don't ever want to look like that.

"What the hell are you thinking?" Dad gestures frantically out the window, where the garbage bin sits next to the driveway. My collection of textbooks leans haphazardly at its base, and I quickly look away, going back to staring at the remaining book in my hands. Even if it does remind me of blood, it's better than meeting Dad's angry gaze.

"Are you even listening to me, Aiden?"

Yes, I want to say. Yes, I'm listening. I just don't care. Hope is dead. Don't you get that? Don't you get why I don't care anymore?

But I don't say anything, because it's best to keep quiet around Dad. Always has been.

"You've spent eight years obsessing over those stupid books. And now what? You're just throwing them away?"

In the Hope of MemoriesWhere stories live. Discover now