Cabin 5 {Preface}

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I can’t remember too much about the crash that took my parents and unborn sibling away from me forever. The last thing I recall is piling into the car to go out for ice cream, as my mom, nearing her third trimester of pregnancy, had an intense craving for mango ice cream in the middle of November. My dad, not wanting any crazy, hormonal rage aimed at him, immediately declared we were going on a field trip to the closest ice creamery.

There’s a giant gap of several months that I can’t remember at all; I was in a comatose state long enough to miss not only Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the reigning in of the new year, but also my own twelfth birthday. But honestly, I didn’t care about any of that. Once I woke up, all I wanted to do was see my parents.

How do you tell a twelve-year-old who just woke up from a coma that her family is gone? Is there any easy way to tell her she’ll never again hear the laughs of her parents coming from another room, never lay eyes on the sibling she had been so excited to welcome into the world?

The answer is no. Instead of breaking the news immediately, the nurses waited until they thought the time was right. Days turned into weeks, and I still had no idea I was an orphan. Convinced my parents must be just down the hall of the hospital, I often snuck out of my room to search for them. Twelve-year-old me was just as persistent as I am today.

One day, a thought finally occurred to me: my parents must be spending quality time with my little brother or sister. It made perfect sense! Who wouldn’t want to keep an annoying pre-teen girl out of the way for some baby-parent bonding? This made me remember the moment my mom broke the news to me. She sat me down and said, “Nicky… How would you feel about being a big sister?”

I was ecstatic! I only had one question: “Is it a boy or a girl?"

She smiled at me, stroking my hair. “We don’t know yet… It’s going to be a surprise.”

Instantly, I sought out my favorite nurse, Clara. Why hadn’t I thought of asking before? With boundless energy, I tracked her down in a busy corridor where she was talking to a doctor I had seen before but never talked to. I pranced around impatiently, willing her to hurry up. Finally, she said goodbye to him and spotted me in my nervous frenzy.

“Nicole! Need something?” She asked, an expression on her face I didn’t recognize as pity. She smiled down at me in an almost maternal sort of way.

“I know my parents want to have quality time with the baby,” I began, knowing I must be on the right track, “but can you just tell me if it’s a boy or a girl?”

Nurse Clara’s face instantly fell. The moment she had been dreading had finally arrived… It was time to deliver news that would forever extinguish the playful lights that danced in a young girl’s eyes.

The rest is a haze. I don’t remember exactly what was said, as if the news had put me back into a coma. I can only remember feelings: disbelief, outrage, anger, and a crippling, overwhelming sense that my world was coming crumbling down. I lashed out at the woman who had tried her best to protect me. That day, I wasn’t told the gruesome details of the accident. It wasn’t until several months had passed that I learned my father had died on collision. Nobody dared to tell me that my mother was still alive when she was brought to the hospital, albeit bleeding profusely. On that dark day in my memory, I was not informed that my sibling would have survived had the doctor in charge of caring for premature infants not helped himself to another drink.

No; a twelve-year-old could not possibly handle any more than the unbearable fact that her family was gone. The one thing that Nurse Clara told me besides the worst news I had ever received was the answer to my question. “It was a boy… He was a boy.”

I don't know if she was trying to comfort me with that information. The only three members of my instant family were together in death and I was all alone. But still... A brother. I should've had a little brother.

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