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A Couple Seconds
A couple seconds, that’s all it takes to change your life forever. It could make the difference in setting a record or winning a race. It could also take away the ones you love within the blink of an eye. So pay attention because you never know what can happen when time ticks by oh so fast.
Voices of strangers surround me in a jumbled up cloud, encircling my head. I stir my cup of coffee with something that I assume is cream. Raising the Styrofoam cup to my lips I give a cautious sip. Its bitter but it will have to do. My twin sister, Amber brought me out tonight… or better yet dragged me out tonight. Lugging me all over town and shoving me into to all these overpriced stores filled with snobby, superficial people. She calls it sister bonding time. I call it torture time. Now don’t get me wrong I love my sister to death and would do anything for her, which explains why I’m sitting here in a coffee house and not at home in bed. We just have very different interests. She’s a party girl and I have a sweet spot for romance novels.
Looking up across from me, I steal a glance at Amber and it strikes me how I severely wish we were identical twins. Every girl in our family is known for being beautiful, with long glossy strawberry blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. Except for me, I have boring brown eyes, boring brown hair, and overall just a boring face. I’m not saying I’m ugly but I’m certainly not saying I’m pretty. I’m just average. Uninspiringly average.
“And we just have to hit this one store! I think it’s about a block away but trust me it’s worth it.” Amber rambles on. It comes to my attention that I’m not certain how long she’s been talking. Squinting down at my watch I’m shocked to see what time it is.
“Amber it’s already 10:30. Our curfew is in a half an hour; don’t you think it’s time to head home?” I plead; I’m not as worried about the curfew as I am about passing out from exhaustion.
“Oh come on Teddy don’t be such a buzz kill.” Amber teases. “Have a little fun.”
“Amber I’m serious; Dad said if we come home late again we’re grounded.” I say while crossing my arms for emphasis.
“Please Teddy bear. Just this one last store and then I swear we can go home.” Amber begs wide eyed, using my old childhood nickname. It’s a deadly combination.
“Well… I guess.” I say knowing I’ll regret it later. “But I’m too tired to walk anymore so try and finish up shopping in fifteen minutes, then come back.” Amber knows exactly how to get what she wants from me but it’s really more my fault because I let her play me. I know it may seem silly but I still think of her as my little sister. There is not much of a difference, just 10 minutes but I’m still technically older. And as her older sister all I want to do is make her happy.
“Oh, you’re the best Ted! I promise I’ll be super quick.” Amber shrills. She gets up and attempts to grab all of her various shopping bags at once without much success.
“Just, just leave the bags here Amber.” I say with fatigue seeping into my voice. God I wish this coffee would start kicking in soon. Yawning I mumble, “Have fun.”
“Thanks.” She says as she struts out of the store. All the guys in the coffee house do a double take, right on cue. Guys always chose Amber over me, something that I figured out a long time ago back in the fifth grade. It was Valentine’s Day and I had a huge crush on this one boy named Jeremy Hayes. He had light freckles dusted over his cheeks and orange gold hair that hung just a little bit too low over his eyes. His eyes were enchanting, green with gold flecks circling his pupil. I was crazy about him and I planned on doing everything I could to win him over. So instead of wearing my usual jeans and t-shirt combo I opted for my favorite dress. It was a light blue color with pink flowers sprinkled over the fabric. I brushed my hair until it shone like a flowing chocolate waterfall then carefully I placed a thick black headband on. I knew it was going to give me a headache later on but I was willing to do anything for Jeremy’s attention.
It was recess and I just stood with my back glued against the school building. Sweaty hands behind my back clutched onto the card that was crudely cut out into the shape of a heart. I stare out and scrutinize Jeremy playing tetherball with a short and chubby boy whose name I forget. Plucking up all the courage I can muster I made my way over towards Jeremy. Reaching out one trembling hand I lightly tap him on his shoulder. Jeremy span around and at first I could tell he was surprised but that quickly melted away into a smile.
“Hey Teddy your just the girl I wanted to talk to.” He said grinning which made his freckles dance.
“Really?” I said excitedly, squeezing my card tighter.
“Yeah I have something to give to you.” He said while fiddling around in his pockets.
“You do!?” I trilled with my voice high-pitched and probing, whoa there, let’s take it down a notch. I thought to myself. “Uh, I mean you do?”
“Yeah, if you could give this to your sister that would be great.” He said while producing a folded up card with strawberry on front saying, “I like you berry much!” and with that he darted away towards his friends, unknowingly leaving me crushed and broken hearted. Making sure no one was looking I tore up the card and chucked it in the trash can. I was never mad at my sister that day…. Okay maybe I was a little bit ticked but she can’t help being beautiful so instead of being pissed off for the rest of my life I decided just to accept it.
Gazing down at the wood grain pattern table I can feel my eyes growing heavy with each second. I can faintly hear the clock tick-tocking me a lullaby trying to persuade me to drift asleep. Groaning I prop my elbow on the table and place my cheek on my palm. I sluggishly press my phone and see that its 10:44. Any second now, she’ll be bursting throw those doors. Then we can go home and I can sleep, I think. I close my eyes and sway off into my tick-tock melody, floating my way to oblivion. If I wasn’t so tired I might have noticed the sirens.
Looking through red puffy eyes, I see my sister. I gape at Amber’s skin which is now pale as snow, a strange sight to see considering she always had a golden tan. Her hair cascading down in fat sausage curls and lips the shade of berries made her look like an angel. And then it occurred to me that, that was what she was now. Wiping away a lone tear trickling down my cheek I place an amber rose on my best friend’s casket.
It’s been about a month since the accident. Staring up at my bedroom ceiling I feel disgusting. Not just because I haven’t showered and have been wearing the same pajamas for about five days now, but because I can’t shake the unbearable feeling that I’m responsible for my sister’s death. If I had just walked with my sister to that stupid store, I would have been there to make sure she looked both ways before just running into the road. Or maybe if I just told her to take her time, that way she wouldn’t have felt the need to get back so quickly. Sure we probably would have gotten grounded but at least that’s not permanent. A sudden rush of anger towards myself engulfs me, or maybe if I wasn’t such a freaking push over all the time I would have said no to Amber when she asked to go to that ridiculous store! But no, because of Amber’s God damn puppy dog eyes, I’ll never get to see them again. The more I think about it, the more I believe that Amber’s death was my fault. Sitting cross-legged on my bed I shut my eyes tightly, wishing I could just see her one last time. Feeling pathetic I open my eyes and just like I expected the only thing staring back at me was my dirty room. I know it may sound crazy but sometimes I feel like she’s still here. I hear her voice when the wind whips at my window. I smell whiffs of her perfume that always gave me headaches when strangers walk by. I feel her soft creamy skin when I hold my hands together. And sometimes when I’m alone I look at myself in the mirror and I see her. Then I would rub my eyes and she would disappear, leaving only but my pitiful reflection staring back at me. I just have this indescribable suspicion that somehow, somewhere Amber is still here; trapped. She’s trying to find her way but can’t, so she’s reaching out to her sister. Or like I said maybe I am just crazy.
Groaning I get up to go rinse my face off in the bathroom. Cupping my hands with the icy, cold water I splash my face, feeling the cool relief that it left behind. My face dripping, I blindly fumble my hand across the counter, trying to locate the basket with the mini towels. Giving up I settle for my shirt. Sighing I stand straight and look in the mirror and what I saw made me involuntarily shriek. There standing in the clothes she died in was Amber.
“Amber?” I whisper almost inaudibly.
“Hey Teddy bear.” Amber says with a tragic smile on her lips.
“What are you doing here?” I say while fighting the urge to rush over and hug her.
“I need you to do something for me.” She says while taking I step closer, staring me in the eyes.
“What is it?” I say immediately.
“I need you to forgive yourself.” She says with shiny eyes and sorrow seeping into her voice.
“What?” I whisper.
“You have to accept that my death wasn’t your fault.” She says with tears falling from her eyes. “Just please you have to promise me that you’ll try.” Feeling my eyes sting I let the rush of tears fall and trickle down my cheek.
“I’ll, I’ll try my best.” I snivel. “I love you Amber.” Smiling through tears Amber says she loves me too. I get thrown back into reality when my mom opens the door.
“You okay Teddy?” She says and I look at her eyes which are obviously tear stained. Peeking back to where Amber was standing I’m not surprised to see nothing but the empty air. Taking a deep breath I gaze at my mom and say,
“Yeah, I think I’m going to be okay.”
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