I jolt up, ready to be yelled at by some nurse for being at Jo's bedside during the night. But my eyes connect with the cheap hotel drapes and once again, I receive the harsh reminder that my mind isn't quite where it should be. The blinking red alarm black tells me that it's no where near morning, but Jenna is up. She's slouching on the end of the bed, her chin in her hands, staring intently at the floor. To get her attention, I gently toss one of my shoes on the floor so it bumps her leg. She darts up like she was half asleep, like I caught her doing unspeakable.
"Sorry. You were making noise and it woke me up--" she runs a hand through her crazy hair.
"No, I'm sorry. I just had a dream about.--"
"Josephine," she finishes for me with an audible sigh. "This sounds horrible, but I don't want to go see her again today. I don't think I can handle it. She's too far gone, and there's no point getting reattached just for her to die."
One look at my face and her features scream guilt once again. "Just so you know," I begin, "She's been a lot closer to death than she is now." I try to decide if I should tell Jenna or not, and then just give up on attempting to keep secrets any longer. "Like the night I just had a dream about. She couldn't even sign, or move, or breathe on her own. She's doing all of that on her own." I mean this to be reassuring, but I don't think it's a success.
She lets out a slow breath, scraping her hair back with one hand. "It's just so surreal. When did this happen, John?"
I have a feeling that she doesn't expect an answer for her question. We just look at each other in the dark of the musty hotel room, cars whizzing by our window at the speed of light. "Just get through this weekend."
"It's easy for you," the corners of her lips pull back like when someone's trying not to cry. "You know her. With me, it's like being locked in a room with a total stranger, and told to pretend that you're best friends while all the while a knife is being pressed against your throat." She swallows hard.
Her feelings are completely justified; you never know what to do around sick people. It's like they ooze this aura through their pores, as if it'll choke you if you say something wrong. It's walking on eggshells, and Jenna's not used to trodding lightly with her own sister. "Don't pretend. She won't judge you for it, Jenna. She'd appreciate your honesty a lot more." This doesn't make her swallowing slow down. "Better to be hated than loved for something you're not."
"Or it's better to not make your dying sister hate you. That'd be better," she snaps with a bitter frown.
My shoulders wilt. "I can't come up with magic words to make it easier, Jenna. It's one of those situations where I am just unable to fix it for you."
Her gaze is vacant, posture slumped forward. "Can we go do something? I'm not going to be able to sleep."
My eyes flit over to Mrs. Lawson, her face crumpled up in worry while she slept, but Jenna shakes her head. "She won't care. She never had an opinion on what I did." Her nose turns up, trying to feign indifference.
Shoving my feet into tennis shoes, I stand and stare her down. "Why are you so horrible and bitter about it? Please don't tell me you were one of those classic kids who messed up just to get their parents to notice them."
Jenna rolls her eyes and pulls on a sweatshirt from her sprawled suitcase. "It was more an attempt at punishment, but sure. I was one of those kids."
"You're so stupid," I mumble, only halfway sarcastic, and wait for her. "We don't exactly have a car, and it's almost four in the morning."
She bends over and scribbles something on the nightstand's notebook. "We could always go drink more Suicides..." her mouth creeps into a sarcastic smile.
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Skin Deep (Featured - Completed)Teen Fiction
John is blank in a world where everything anyone says appears on their skin. They're held accountable for every secret, every demand, every sacrifice scrawled across their foreheads in bold black letters. He grew up in an insane asylum and had acc...