Her brother came in everyday. He always replaced the flowers with fresh ones, then opened up the curtains, then sat down near her head. He'd take a deep breath, check the chart of her diagnosis for any changes, and then he'd start a conversation. This visitor always talked to her, and he was the only one who still visited religiously.
Her mother had always wept when she came in, and had been unable to stay for more than fifteen minutes. Her grandfather would come in looking haggard, and that uncomfortable look would turn into guilt after he only took one glance at her before he too left.
But he stayed. Every day her brother sat down beside her and was even reluctant to leave when the time came. And he was the one who had the most reason to stay away; guilt, fear of rejection, fear of hurting her even in her state. Survivor's guilt.
I should know. I watch over her, a personal guard for her you could say. I can't help but listen, and hear, and guess. It's given me an understanding of these humans, with all their wayward emotions and confusing ways. I've had lots of time to observe and discover. She has been here for three and a half years- and I've known her most of her life. It's funny how I never really knew her until she couldn't really be.
When the young boy talked, he went far away. Oblivious to his surroundings and me, so I watched over him too, and I observed. Maybe he went to a utopia in his mind, where his sister would welcome him with open arms. I doubt that. Once, he had started weeping in his vacant gaze, probably reliving the actions that brought his beloved sister to this state and his hand in those actions.
Even as preoccupied as he was, he always tended to her. Using a wash cloth and a filled basin he'd wet her hair, using a comb and soap he'd cleanse it, and using a brush and towel he'd gently separate each strand and press out the excess water. He'd talk the whole time, never stopping in his recount of the day and the family, telling her how much he misses her and how he was hoping she'll get better. After, he'd braid her hair and place that braid over her left shoulder, always coiling it over her heart, and then hold her hands in his own.
The way he held her hands was confusing; tightly clutching, afraid she'd leave him suddenly – yet it was a gentle embrace, afraid to break her or perhaps scare her away.
I guess I'll never really understand these humans…
"… I aced another test today. You know the one I was talking about – the do all end all of my Physics class."
He saw her leaning on the door, gazing curiously yet mildly at him with a smile.
"People think I'm some crazy genius, sis…"
"What're you doing in here? You know we're not supposed to be in here, hun." She said softly.
"…guess that's why I'm all alone at school."
"Buyo ran in here." Souta said fearfully. "I can't find him."
"...no one wants to be friends with a freak, even the guys I join for soccer…"
She nodded her head and walked into the shed.
"…but you know all about that."
Suddenly, the well wall he was leaning on collapsed, sending him tumbling into the dry-wells depths. He saw his sister's panicked face and her sprint towards him.
"Mom's got a weird sense of timing, you know your birthday?"
Just as he was about to close his eyes in despair something clutched his hands. His sister was laying over the edge. "Hold on." Her tears were falling in his face.
"Well it seems she got a boyfriend, awkward huh?"
She had just pulled him onto solid ground in her embrace when they heard a deep groaning noise. Both sharply glanced at the support timbers as they quivered in their age.
"Oh, shit." That was the first time he'd heard her swear.
"He's okay I guess. Grandpa adores him; he bought him a book on old Japanese Legends. You know he's such a sucker for those things."
"I love you, Souta."
"Although, Grandpa's tales don't even come close to matching yours, you always told the best stories."
He was pushed to the ground; his sister's body covering his as the timbers snapped and fell.
The ground shook and there was a roaring in his ears.
"I can't wait to hear your next tale; I bet it's going to be great!"
He could hear the dust and sand collected by age trickling through the setting lumber and debris. His mother was screaming and he could oddly hear her too. And some neighbors were moving the timbers, calling out to them, the shifting wood was echoing up his limbs, through his bones.
"I miss you a lot." It was almost time to leave. The nurse would come soon to usher him away with that pitying look she always wore. "...and I can't wait to hear your voice."
The last timber was removed and his sister's weight was gone. He had to blink to clear his vision.
"Maybe I'll even be the first you see, ne?"
His eyes cleared and he pushed away his hysterical mother. His sister was still on the ground.
"I've got to go."
She wasn't moving.
"Mom said I had to leave as soon as the nurses started to come to your room. Get Well, I'll see you tomorrow."
"She's alive." He watched them drive her away to the hospital…all his fault.
I watched him walk away, as usual. He'd always stop to look up at his sister's window; at the flashing blue and pink powers that were testimony to her seizure and power struggles even in her coma-like state. Then he walked through the portal to the shrine steps, I never quite recognized his expression past that place, even though he always stood to look back a second time. I look back with him, knowing what I'll see and knowing that I'll be with him in a short while- it always happened like that.
The portal closes.
An alarm blares. Green power was flaring at a window. The Reikai Hospital is on alert, patient 5-4-0 is having unidentified power fluxes.
Souta walked up to his room, calling out to his cat. "Buyo, here kitty, kitty, kitty." A small kitten comes out from under his bed; the firemen had given it to him to replace the original Buyo- he hadn't made it out of the well house.
He picked him up and settled him onto his lap to scratch at his ears and belly. "She's looking better today; she was smiling in her sleep. Her hair has grown, she's gonna love it when she wakes up. Her hands have calluses though, and there's muscle definition in her arms." He sighed and scratched the cat's ears. "I worry about what is going on in her head. She has a wild imagination. I don't want to know what it could manifest while she's in this state."
He placed his school books beside his bag, double checking that all his homework was there before he prepared himself for bed.
As he snuggled under the covers holding his kitten close, he recited all of his sister's stories in his head; he never wanted to forget them, or her.
A worried mother peered into Souta's room, an aged grandfather peering over her shoulder. "This isn't good for him, Jii-chan. He's holding on too hard."
The elder put a hand on his daughters shoulder. "He'll move on soon. If he doesn't we can always help him."
In the Reikai Hospital, the heart monitor for patient 5-4-0 suddenly cleared. No one heard, and no one saw the patient gasp for air or her heart monitor fluctuate before evening out again. An iridescent glow surrounded the lone occupant of the room, and a soft sigh escaped her lips before there was complete silence once more.