"Leah!" Seth yelled, looking around for his older sister. She was wading in the shallow water several feet away. Seth sat in the soft sand, absorbing the heat and sheilding his eyes from the sun. Leah squinted, looking towards the sound of her name. She walked slowly towards shore, the water sloshing around her ankles.
"What Seth?" She asked, sitting beside him. The sand stuck to the backs of her claves, but she barely noticed. Her brother was holding up a rock.
"Look Leah! Green!" He exclaimed excitedly. Leah smiled.
"Pretty Seth," she awknoledged, "it is very green."
Seth nodded, excitedly. "Can we bring it home for Mommy?" He asked, his bright eyes lighting up, gleaming in the sunshine.
"Sure thing. How about you pick one for Rachel too? And Rebecca? I'm sure they would appreciate it." Leah grinned. "Look, I'll help you!"
She took her younger brother by the hand proudly. It pleased her that when Charlie and Billy had shown up at their house for the game, her father had allowed her to take Seth to the beach alone. She felt grown up, responsible. He hadn't even insisted that Rachel or Rebecca accompany them.
"Look Leah!" He squealed. The four-year-old ran ahead and picked up a bright blue rock. Leah grinned at him encouragingly, and he tottered back towards her, grinning. Then, as if in slow motion, the boy tripped over a smooth rock, his small legs not long enough to recover. He fell, his knees scathing the rocks painfully, his hands thrown out instinctively to break the fall. He landed with a thud before Leah could reach him. And that was when the pained shreiking began.
His screams echoed along the wide expanse of the beach. Leah rand over as fast as her legs could carry her, and she kneeled next to Seth. "Shhh Seth! Look at Leah, look at me. Seth, shhh. Shhhh!" She cooed. She looked around nerviously, afraid her father would come rushing out, panicked. They would never trust her again, they would be angry at her for allowing Seth to get hurt.
Her brother seemed to calm a little, and now he was whimpering, staring at his skinned knee. Leah gasped when she saw the blood, and bit her lip. She gently helped Seth sit down, her heart pounding a mile a minute. She pulled his legs out in front of him, and the young boy rubbed his wet eyes, and looked curiously at his older sister.
"Seth? We need to clean you up, okay?" Leah said authoritatively. Trying her best to sound like her mother. Seth nodded. Leah looked at him uncertainly, and then turned. "Hop on," she instructed, and Seth grappled onto her back. She struggled under his weight, but stood fluidly, and began walking, slower than her usual smooth run, towards their house. Leah was suddenly very thankful that her living room was situated at the back of her house. If she was very quiet, she could sneak Seth upstairs to clean him up...
She finally reached the house, panting for breath. "Seth?" She whispered, "can you walk now?" The boy nodded, and dropped off his sister's back. She looked at the small boy appraisingly. "Seth? You need to be very quiet now, okay?" The boy nodded, his shaggy black hair flopping into his big dark eyes.
Leah took his hand and crept into the house.
"Leah? Seth? Back from the beach already?" Her father called. Leah could hear the chuckles of the other men in the back room.
"Yes. I'll be right there." She called nervously, and led Seth straight upstairs. She rushed him into the bathroom, pulling out the first aid kit. She quickly took out the familar bottle, the one her mother had used many times on her scrapes, and slathered a thick layer on Seth's wound. She then proceeded to rip open a band-aid and press it on quickly. The white cream was still there, but Leah couldn't figure out how else to fix it. She tugged down Seth's pant leg to hide the scrape, and then looked her brother in the eye.
"Leah?" He said, his innocent eyes widening, "there is wet stuff all over my leg."
Leah couldn't help it anymore. She started to cry. She bowed her head, and it was then she noticed that she had blood on her shirt. It wasn't an alarming amount, simply a smear from the scrape, but for some reason, she felt this labled her. She was a horrible sister. She should be able to protect her brother. She should have known how to stop him. She shouldn't have told him to get more rocks. Her parents would never, ever trust her with Seth again. Not in a million years. Not until she was all grown up and married, and maybe not even then. The tears continued to flow, broken sobs echoing thorugh the bathroom. Her long black hair clung to her face where the tears had made contact.
There was a light knock at the door, and Leah's heart pounded erratically. She knew instinctively that this was it. Her father would be angry for sure. She would be sent to her room immediately. She would not be allowed to sit downstairs with the others. She wouldn't get to sit with Rachel and Rebecca and get her hair braided during Seth's nap.
She sighed, looked up at her confused brother, and unlocked the door, pulling the door open a crack, peaking through the small space between her and what was coming...
"Leah?" Rebecca asked lightly. Calmly.
Leah took a deep breath. "Seth hurt himself. It was all my fault, I tried to clean it up Rebecca, please don't tell Daddy, I didn't mean to. Can you fix-I'm sorry!" Leah stumbled. Rebecca looked at her curiously.
"Seth? Is he okay. Is it serious? Oh! Don't cry Leah, it's okay, it's okay. Show me Seth, is he bleeding?" Rebecca attempted to handle two situations at once.
"It's so bad! I didn't mean to let him-help."
Rebecca opened the door wide and rushed over to Seth, immediately examining his head. "What's wrong with him.
"His knee," Leah said quietly, morosely from the corner.
Rebecca's eyebrows pulled together as she rolled up Seth's pantleg. Then she began to laugh.
"It's not funny! He's hurt!" Leah said, offended now. She stood up, wobbling on her small legs. This made Rebeccal laugh harder. Leah pouted and crossed her arms. Rebecca composed herself.
"Okay Leah, okay. You're right. How about this? You go to your room and change your shirt... And I'll fix up Seth here." She told the young girl. Leah nodded slowly, still looking guilty. The young girl hurried to her room and threw on the first shirt she found. When she cam back, Rebecca has wiped the cream from Seth's knee and was laying a fresh bandage on it.
"Rebecca?" Leah asked shyly.
"Yes Leah?" Rebecca asked, a smile creeping onto her face.
"Are you going to tell Daddy? Because Seth got hurt because of me. I don't want him to think I can't take care of him. Do you think he'll notice Seth's...knee?" She asked, the panic seeping into her voice. Rebecca chuckled.
"Well, you know what? I think we can keep it our secret. The injury was pretty minor," She added, and the little girl relaxed. "Leah, Seth could have fallen anywhere, with anyone. Okay? This has nothing to do with being a good or bad sister." She told her seriously. Leah looked up, her eyelashes still wet from crying.
"Really?" Rebecca nodded. Leah relaxed a little.
"Becca! Becca!" Seth yelled suddenly, making the girls jump.
"Yes Seth?" Rebecca asked expectantly.
"Pretty rock for you!" He cried happily, unclenching his small fist. There lay a small green rock, no bigger than a quarter.