To .com and the people on tumblr who helped me name Daniel's sister: thanks.
"Hey, I'm just gonna be gone for a little while, okay?" twenty-two year old Daniel Desario told his little sister. She had already known what he was going when he to say when he leaned down to her level.
"But Daniel, I don't want you to go!" she said, her face scrunching up like she might cry.
"I'll make sure to bring you back something really great. Maybe some kind of European candy, huh? I know it's your favorite." But that didn't make Dana feel any better.
"Munchkin, don't worry. I'm going to Spain," he stared in to space for a moment and the twelve year old wondered what he was thinking about. Probably remembering a past visit to Spain. Whatever happened in Spain was always on his mind. Spain was always on her mind, too. And so was Daniel. He had told her time and time again about how it was the best place he'd ever been.
He came out of his reverie and continued, "One day I'm gonna take you there. Then you'll see why I like it so much..."
She wondered about Spain a lot. Once, she told Daniel that and he responded with, "Keep wondering, kid. The real thing will blow your mind," and then he returned to his cereal. She didn't care about the country, not that much anyway. She had always had the suspicion that Daniel was keeping something from her. Like there was more to Spain than he let on. He told her stories about the beautiful places he'd seen and been, but the whispered conversations in the kitchen that would ended every time she walked in the room gave her doubts.
During the first few weeks back from every trip, Daniel would act strangely. He spent long periods of time lost in his own thoughts. He didn't do much, just treated life as a spectator sport.
But whenever he's away, she's the one acting strangely. The one lost in their own thoughts. People give her knowing looks and let things slide. The teachers don't take off points when her assignments are late. She can feel his friends whispering about him, and about her.
Nights like tonight she needs Daniel. He's been there, survived relatively unscathed. Are things always gonna be this way? Are days like today going to hurt ten years from now, when she's his age?
Seventh grade is hard but life at home is harder, especially without Daniel around. The rest her family wonders what to do about the almost teenager sobbing upstairs in her room. She only wonders about Daniel.
One day, Lindsay's there. So is Kim. Ken is on the phone and Nick's probably standing right next to him. She's confused. Sure Daniel's friends visit her while he's away, but they don't congregate...
Lindsay tries to explain what's happened, but Dana's getting foggy-headed. She's not hearing the entire sentences anymore, so doesn't know what's happened, but Lindsay looks somber and Kim rubs her arm lightly.
As far as she can tell, Lindsay's talking about a hospital. Is Daniel in the hospital? She hears the word "see" and Ken and Nick's names. Are they going to see him? What's wrong?
"Honey, Daniel can't see." And then her legs give out.
Ken and Nick when all the way to Spain to get Daniel. That makes her feel terrible because they took a fifteen hour plane ride to go get him and then took another back home with him. Not a lot of ways to escape on a plane.
She can't even go see him at the hospital. Lindsay and Kim have been there the whole time and -Kim and Daniel hadn't split on amicable terms. So why is she still here?
"Hey there," he says with one arm outstretched in anticipation for her hug. "I missed you." She doesn't want to cry, but settles for silent tears so he wouldn't hear. She can barely keep the crying out of her voice: I missed you, too.