I was huddled up on the bench in the cold. A nearby radio on a windowsill announced it was below freezing and advised people to wrap up well before going outside. I tightened my arms more around myself. I still couldn't believe what had happened. It had been a perfectly normal Saturday morning when I had awoken in my bed. I got up, got washed and dressed, went downstairs to eat, the usual routine. Except I didn't always scream in the kitchen. That wasn't in my routine. Apparently, on the perfectly normal Saturday morning, it was. I stepped into the kitchen and stopped cold. My older stepsister Martina was lying on the floor, unconscious. Not moving. I scurried to her side and bent over her.
"Martina? What's wrong? Please...wake up!" , I yelled. She didn't move. She didn't even stirr.
"HELP! PLEASE!" , I thundered. Nobody else was up.
"Martina..." , I whispered desperately. I checked her pulse. It was barely even there. She was slowly slipping away. "No...Martina, hold on,
I ran as fast as my legs could carry me to Ma and Joseph's room. I burst through the door in blind panic. Ma sat up.
"Rem? What is it?" Joseph sat up beside her, looking dazed. "What's wrong?" , he said sleepily.
I looked at them and burst into tears. "It's Martina!" , I said, gasping for breath between my heavy sobs. "I - I don't know what's happened to her...she won't wake up..."
"Where is she?" , Joseph said, snapping into action.
"K - kitchen..."
He dashed pass me out the door. Ma held out her arms and I collapsed into them, a sobbing, shaking wreck.
"She won't wake up..." , I whispered. "She wouldn't wake up."
"I know honey. I know" , she said, stroking my hair.
I could hear Joseph's distant voice pleading for help on the phone. I listened as he gave out our address, and Martina's condition.
Barely breathing, he said.
"Come on" , Ma said quietly, taking my hand. It was all a rush after that. The paramedics came and whisked Martina off in an ambulance with Joseph in the back. Ma got dressed, I packed a bag for Martina and we left for the hospital that Joseph had given us the name of. St. Jean's Hospital for Children was only ten minutes away although I had never heard of it. When we arrived we were just in time to see Martina on a trolley entering the emergency room. We legged it after her, only to be sent to the waiting room with empty promises about giving us more info as the day went on. They left Martina's bag with me,
and a two second reassurance for Ma, who seemed to need to keep dabbing her eyes. She convinced me to go outside and get some air. I discovered there was a park just across the road from the hospital. That's where I was now, silently worrying. I studied the park. It wasn't much. A rickety old see-saw, the old bench I was sitting on and an old swingset. A boy sat on one of the swings,
staring into space. I figured he might be in the same position I was. I started to shiver violently against the freezing breeze, and my head was pounding with blood. I only had time to throw on grey tracksuit bottoms, a plain white t-shirt and a red hoodie. I dropped my hood, exposing my face to the air. I could feel the boy look at me, and sighed, thinking he was another stupid old lad trying his luck. A few minutes after though, he was still staring. With intense concentration. I finally scraped my eyes away from the ground to look at him.
He actually looked a bit like me. The same dark brown hair and eyes. He was wearing an old brown coat, black trousers and black shoes.
Those kind of shoes men wear, with the little clicky heel. He was staring at me with excitement, and possible awe. I immidiately felt very self-conscious and stood up, turning to leave.
"Wait!" , he called. I heard quick footsteps behind me.
"What do you want?" , I asked quickly, still turned round.
"I just - I just need to talk to you."
"What for?" , I demanded, turning round to face him. "You don't know me...but you've been staring at me for the past ten minutes!"
He stared straight into my eyes. I could see hints of sadness behind them.
"Sit with me?" , he said quitely.
I scowled but retreated back to bench and flopped down onto it. The boy sat beside me and faced me.
"So" , I said airily. "Who are you, and what do you want with me?"
He hesitated. "This is gonna sound really weird."
"Okay...well...look, I know you even though you probably have no clue who I am at all. I'm Peter...and...and..."
"Go on" , I said suspiciously.
"I need your help" , he finished.
"You need my help" , I repeated.
He looked around as if to make sure nobody was near, and drew in closer.
"You're the only one who can save my world" , he whispered desperately. "You've GOT to help me."
I took one look at his over the top serious face and started laughing. "Do I really look that stupid? I mean, come on -"
"Our Shaman told us only one could save us" , Peter interrupted urgently. "She asked the spirits for help and you formed in the smoke."
I stopped laughing. "What do you mean?" , I asked sternly.
"You formed in the smoke and looked around at all of us. You stopped at me and disappeared."
"Er - what...why...?"
"It seemed you were willing to help. Which is why I am here."
"And I know this isn't a joke because...?"
"Your name is Remy Maria Kingsley and you're twelve years old. You're here because of your sister."
I froze. "How did you know?" , I whispered.
"Shamans" , he said precariously. "Are very skilled and accurate."
I shook violently. "No" , I said through chattering teeth. "No. This is mad."
"Please!",he said again. "Nobody else can save us! You're our only hope!"
"I have to go" , I said quickly. "Just...don't tell anybody about this, okay?"
As I was going through the park gates, I sneaked a glance at the bench.
He was already gone.
I hurried towards the entrance doors to the hospital, which automatically parted to let me in. Tears were welling in my eyes. It had been a very emotional couple of hours, but little did I know it was about to get a whole lot worse.
Just as I was passing reception a trolley whizzed by me surrounded by lots of nurses and doctors. "Come on Martina, that's it, hold on love...it'll be all better soon" , one of the nurses said.
I snapped. "WAIT!" I ran after the trolley.
"What's wrong? What's happened to my sister?", I demanded when I had caught up with them.
One of the male doctors gave the nurse who had been comforting Martina a look, and she nodded. She let go of the trolley and put a hand out to stop me. "Is Martina your sister, honey?"
"Let's sit down over here, hmm?"
She took my hand and guided me to some hard plastic chairs in the hall, above them was an old murral with Disney characters on the sickly yellow painted wall.
"Martina was not in a stable condition, she has been taken to surgery" , she said gently as I sat down.
"But why? What's wrong with her?"
"Do you know what Septicemia means, love?"
I shook my head.
"It means when you have a great cut on yourself, and it is not treated properly. Martina, er, sustained wounds on herself, and maybe didn't think much of them." She wouldn't meet my eyes.
"My Mam is here, can I go to her?"
The nurse looked relieved. "Of course, I spoke to her only minutes ago. This way."
She led me to an even more depressing part of the hospital. Lots of people were in the room where my Ma was, nearly all of them with their faces in their hands, some praying silently, and a man was pacing. Nobody seemed to notice each other, but when I entered the room (the nurse had left me) , they all
looked up hopefully. When they realized it was just another one of them, they all returned gloomily to staring at the floor, and the man continued his pacing.
Ma stayed looking at me. I knew immediately something was up. Her eyes were glistening with tears, and she looked weakened.
"Love" , Ma said, standing and taking my hands. "There's something I need to tell you."
"I already know, Ma. The nurse told me about the Septicemia."
Ma just shook her head.
"The nurse didn't tell you everything honey. I asked if I could tell you this part."
"Ma." My voice started to sound panicky. "What's wrong?"
"You already know that Martina has Septicemia because of cuts?"
"Love...this is going to be a bit hard to take, okay?"
"Martina was cutting herself, honey. She " - Ma sniffed loudly -"she wasn't happy."