In a small apartment in the heart of New York City, lived a girl named Amanda. Amanda wasn’t fond of living in a cramped apartment with six other siblings anymore. She hated living with three stinky boys and three bratty girls. It was torture – she got no privacy. She had to help her siblings get ready for school and as a result sometimes had to run out the door wearing her pajamas. That was really embarrassing. The only person she liked was her little sister named Eleanor.
* * *
I didn’t even get breakfast. All our “Mom” cares about is the little ones. Sometimes I think that I was adopted just so that I could be the maid/ babysitter. But in other ways, I was treated like a baby. I couldn’t drive because of city traffic, and I also couldn’t move out because I was too young. However, “Mom” hardly knew anything about me.
One morning in the kitchen, she announced that she was pregnant with twins! That was the scariest day of my life. We had to take care of six kids already – four of whom were adopted, like me – and now there were going to be screaming babies?
We were all stunned. Nobody had any words, but the dogs were barking, the cats were meowing, and then the kids were screaming. I just wanted to leave that infested apartment. Only Eleanor was silent. I loved Eleanor – she was civilized, and the only one who really understood me. I loved the mornings when no one cried or screamed.
Things really got crazy when mom called another family meeting. “We are moving!” she announced.
Later that night Mom told us we were moving in with grandpa and grandma. They lived in Florida and we lived in New York! Then she told us we were driving. I looked around the room and saw a wave of frowns flood the room. If we were taking Mom’s Honda I would die. There would be no room for anyone. And what about the bags?
The next day we all packed a carry-on bag and headed outside. There was a big yellow school bus. We all piled in. When all the kids sat down, finally the bus started moving. But then Olivia screamed, “I have to go pee!” The bus came to a stop and we all got out and went into the sketchiest gas station that was rumored to have been robbed 12 times. Oh boy…
Olivia walked through the door and was in there for two minutes and then ran out. She said there was poop on the floor. After a minute into the bus ride Ginger said, “Are we there yet?”
“WE ARE NOT! DO YOU SEE PALM TREES? DID THE BUS STOP NO. WAIT 20 HOURS, AND WE WILL BE THERE!”
20 hours didn’t go by quickly. There was a lot of screaming and fighting. I think the bus driver wanted to leave us on the side of the road.
20 hours later…
Finally, we arrived at my grandparents house. We got off the bus one by one. Grandma kissed all of our cheeks and grandpa high fived us. Their new house was so big every one of us got our own room, but Eleanor and I shared a room. Our room had a fresh smell of paint. The color of the wall was purple on her side of the room, and yellow on my side. Grandma also made cupcakes. Hers were the best of all time. They tasted like heaven bundled up in a small form. Heaven was much bigger though.
After I took a long nap it was time for dinner. To be honest I got lost on my way to dinner. I could smell the pasta sauce from the kitchen.
The food was delicious. Whenever we are at our grandparents’ house it’s a treat.
Later that night we all went into the movie theater. Tonight we were going to watch Finding Nemo. I could smell freshly popped popcorn and soda. 10 minutes into the movie I heard snoring. All the little kids got carried upstairs into their snuggly beds. I changed the movie to a rated R movie called Finding Knife. It was extremely scary so I ran upstairs into my bed.
I had a hard time sleeping. I kept thinking about how I was going to go to school here. Also, I was dreading the birth of the twins. Around midnight, I ran into my Mom’s room. She was awake too and she sent me back to my room. She wasn’t quite understanding. After, I fell into a deep.
In the early morning I was woken up by my grandpa. It was Sunday, so that meant we had to go to church. My grandparents were really serious about church – I mean really. Mom said that we always went, but the truth was that we hardly ever went. We had to get dressed in dresses and heels.
After church we went to brunch. I insisted on going to Luises. It was my favorite restaurant, ever. We were definitely going to go there plenty of more times. There are always the nicest servers there, and the best food – even better than grandma’s if that’s possible.
When we got back from brunch, I went swimming in the pool. After I got out of the pool, I tanned for a little while. Then I heard Eleanor scream help from the pool. I looked over and saw Marco pushing her down. She was drowning. I dived into the pool and pulled her out. I touched her heart. It wasn’t beating. I screamed for my Mom and told her to call 911. I dragged Eleanor out of the pool and did CPR on her. In five minutes the ambulance showed up and they rushed her to the hospital.
“Honey, Grandpa, Grandma, and I will go to the hospital – you’ll watch the kids.” Mom explained to me.
“No. I have to come. I have to be there. I’ve been with her since her beginning and I will be there for her end.”
“Honey, but you have to stay with the kids.”
“No, you can! I am coming – I understand her, she’ll want me there.”
My grandpa and I went into the Jeep and my grandma went in the Toyota. They have like six cars. We rushed over to the hospital and we ran into the ER and saw Eleanor laying still in her bed. Her eyes were squinted. I sat beside her and held her hand. She had all types of IVs in her arm so when I squeezed her she squirmed.
“I love you so much, Ele…” It took her a little bit to gather her thoughts.
“I love you too,” she whispered.
The nurses came in with a turkey and cheese sandwich and orange juice – her favorite. They said we had to leave, but I insisted that I should stay. A police officer gestured to the waiting room so I followed. When I walked into the hallway, I heard crying around the corner. I slowly walked around the corner and I saw a girl crying. I thought it was me.
“Nothing…” she said
“There has to be something wrong. You’re crying in a hospital.”
“My Mom and Dad died in a car crash. They died just a few minutes ago.”
Then she ran off and I heard the slam of a door.
I decided that I wanted to stay the night at the hospital. I woke up to the monitor beeping. A doctor rushed in and turned off the machine and left so I could say my last goodbyes. When she was taken out of the hospital I picked up her blanket off the floor and hugged it.
When we got home I went straight up to what once was our room. When I walked into our room I saw her bed; where her soul slept. I first smiled and then it turned into a frown. I couldn’t believe she was gone. She left me in the blink of an eye.
That night I couldn’t sleep. My mind kept drifting off, but then getting pulled back into the thought of Eleanor being gone.
When I woke up I felt bare without Eleanor next to me. She’d usually be scared in the night so she would sleep with me.
I walked downstairs and into the kitchen. My whole family was eating cereal. My grandma was too sad to cook. All I wanted was Eleanor to come back alive.
After lunch the hospital called and asked my mom and I to come back. When we showed up the nurse was holding a sweater. Then I realized it was that girl’s in the hallway. “Is this your sister’s?” said the nurse.
“No. That’s, uh, my friend’s sweater.”
“Oh. What is your friend’s name, darling?”
“I don’t know…”
“Honey are you okay? It’s your friend. You should know her name.”
“I don’t know… her name could be anything. I only saw her in the hall for a minute. Then she ran away.”
“Whatever. I will put it in lost and found.”
“No, I will find her,” I insisted
The nurse handed me the sweater and I searched for the girl. My mom left because she knew I was going to be a long time. I first looked where I found her the day before but she wasn’t there, so I walked down wing-123 — that was the extreme illness hall. I walked around there for a little bit. But then a man threw up in the hallway so, I left.
I walked to the bathroom and when I opened the door the girl was there. She was crying.
“Are you going to tell on me?” she asked
“I’m not supposed to be here. I am supposed to be in the mental center.”
“Yeah… please don’t tell.”
“It’s our secret. My name is Amanda. What’s yours?”
“My name is Alexa.”
“I saw you in the hall the other day.”
She had a nervous face and then ran. All I saw was her back running away. I forgot to give her the sweater. I saw a black object in the pocket of the cream colored wool sweater. I peered in the pocket and saw a black key. I saw writing on it: Gary.
I wondered what that meant.
* * *
When I got home from the hospital, everyone was in a bustle around the house. The boys were hopping around trying to get on their old shoes. Grandma said the place was muddy. We all got into the cars and headed to the park. It took 15 minutes to get to the park. When we got there, all the little kids ran towards the playground.
I started to walk towards the other kids but then someone tapped me. It was Marco. My heart sunk down to my feet. He had no reason to talk to me. He had done enough damage to my soul. I felt dead without Ele next to me every step I took, but she wasn’t there anymore. Marco and I hadn’t talked since the accident. I looked at him and then I trudged away. The scent of fall leaves drifted towards me from the wind’s gentle breeze.
When I entered the playground area, I saw Ginger run up the steps and into a tunnel. I followed her. When I got out of the tunnel it was dark. Where was Ginger? I took my phone out of my pocket and put my flashlight on. I saw a several slides and I saw a little light pouring in from inside one of slides. I crawled in and pushed off. But then my feet hit something. And that something said, “Oww!”
I looked down at my feet and saw Alexa. She had the wool sweater on that I had earlier. How did she get the sweater back? Did she go inside my house? Then Alexa rammed into me and ran up the slide. When looked back I saw nothing. Just darkness. I slid down the slide. It was just me going round and round a million times until everything stopped. The squeak of my skin stopped. The sound of kids screaming stopped. The sound of my breathing stopped. Except for my heartbeat. I closed my eyes and everything started again.
I came to the end of the long slide. When I came out my mom smiled at me. I ran towards her and she wrapped her arms around my neck and squeezed. Her hugs were the best. Her warm hands felt like hot chocolate wrapping my heart with marshmallows.
We walked back to the cars and drove home. I headed towards the stairs, but then my mom called my name. She was crying. I ran to the kitchen and saw my mom laying on the floor. There was no one home; my grandparents went out to dinner. And all the other kids in the house were at the beach with a babysitter. She was saying something I couldn’t understand.
“I can’t understand you, Mom. What’s wrong?”
“Do you need to go to the hospital?”
She nodded. I helped her up and then led her outside. I helped her into the car and then we headed to the hospital. I got out of the car and got her into a wheelchair and rushed her inside. The nurses helped her to the delivery room. I called my grandparents and told them to come to the hospital.
As soon as my grandparents came, my grandma hugged me so tight. We didn’t have to say anything – our bodies were words to our hearts. We sat in the waiting room, eager to know what was going on. The nurse came out of the room and told us to come in.
When we walked in the room, I saw my mom. She was in a facemask but there were two little baby girls in a cradle. They had matching pink cotton hats and matching pink socks. I saw on a poster it said Mikayla and Tiara Scott. Born April 16th weighing 5.5 pounds and 5.6 pounds. My mom had the same smile that she had earlier today. The one that warms your heart more than anything can.
My mom closed her eyes and fell asleep. My grandma was crying and my grandpa was smiling that same smile. The nurses told us to leave, because they all needed rest. We walked down the hallway and out the door. From a distance I saw a girl running. I ran after her. I grabbed onto her and she stopped. I turned her around. She looked like she was just beat up – she had a black eye. She gave me the black key that said Gary on it. I saw that she was wearing a heart shaped necklace that said Rebecca on it. It looked very familiar. Then she ran away.
I got into the car and my grandpa drove me back home. The street light glared off the car window. I started to drift into a sleep. We pulled into the driveway and I woke up and walked upstairs. I looked at the other side of the room and saw an empty bed. One gone and two born. In less than a month. My heart was aching.
I looked into my jewelry box and saw the same heart shaped necklace that Alexa was wearing. My necklace said Rebecca – my birth mother’s name.
* * *
4 days later…
It was April 22nd – the day the twins came home. Everyone was preparing the house. I had been through a lot of these days when the new children came into the house. Usually mom brings two kids into the house at the same time if they’re adopted. But sometimes if only one is born then only one is brought in.
Everyone was putting banners up and making Mom’s favorite meals and snacks. I smelled the muddy buddies cookies and cream being made. I smelled Grandma’s cheese pizza rising in the oven.
Then I heard my terrace doorway being knocked on. I walked over to the door, opened the curtain, and saw Alexa. I slid the sliding door all the way over to make an opening for Alexa’s slim body. It looked like she hadn’t eaten for days. She was wet and dirty.
I gave her a fresh change of clothes and got her a warm blanket. Then I helped her into my bed and went to get her soup. My grandma started to make the chicken noodle soup and I walked back upstairs. I turned on the television and gave her a glass of milk. She needed to be taken care of. And I was willing to. She started to watch Disney Channel.
I hadn’t turned on the TV since Eleanor left the world. She loved to watch Disney Channel. My grandma called me down to the kitchen and gave me the soup. I walked back upstairs carefully and handed it to Alexa. I sat on the bed beside her and she eventually fell asleep. I stared at her for a long time. Then I noticed she was wearing the same heart shaped necklace from a few days ago at the hospital. I took the key off my dresser and walked over to my bed.
I unlocked her locket and there was a picture. The women had dark brown hair. She had a big smile and a lot of makeup. She was very pretty. It was the same picture that I had in my locket. I locked the locket back up and then put the key in my jewelry box.
I put the blanket back on her because it was slipping off. I went over to my desk and got out my Macbook. I was looking up a question that I’d been thinking for a long time: who was Alexa London?
There was nothing about her, nothing at all. She was anonymous! But why did we have the same picture? Did we have the same parents?
Then Alexa woke up. She looked around for a little bit, but didn’t say anything. “Do you want to go downstairs and have some breakfast?” I asked. She nodded. I told her to get on my back. I carried her over to the elevator.
“Why are you taking care of me?” Alexa asked.
“Because you’re my sister…” and at that moment I knew we were not only friends, we were sisters.
“Before I was adopted I remember Mom and Dad gave us lockets and a key to remember them.”
“I remember that too.”
“We are twins!”