Just the Six of Us Ch. 22byMentalcase©
This was a difficult chapter to write, but yet, so very easy. As I mentioned before, the words flew out of me, and I wrote it in a single day, unprecendented for me. If you'd like to leave me feedback, please include a return address if you want a response, or you can visit my tumblr, where I update, and you can ask questions about the story itself. Both are linked in my profile.
My editor, Zex, has either moved on to greener fields, or has sadly passed away. I have found a new editor, Zero, and he's proved up to the challenge. Zex, I'll miss you buddy.
Mike tumbled through darkness and noise. Thunder and rain crashed down on pavement, light flashed and then darkness again. Beep - beep. Another flash of light... Sarah's voice... one of his other sisters crying...
The darkness receded. He was with his high school girlfriend again. Mike briefly forgot her name, but then it came back to him. Emily. She smiled at him and leaned over to kiss him on the cheek. The perfume she wore wafted over him and he smiled. Obsession Nights: he remembered buying her a bottle of it for Christmas. He'd forgotten how pretty Emily was. Her shoulder-length, curly blonde hair bounced down to her shoulders, beautiful green eyes that seemed to sparkle. A silver cross hung around her neck. She looked at him with a curious, sad look, and then began to cry. It seemed so innocent, the way she cried. It was almost painful to see tears on such a pure creature.
Blackness returned, then receded for a second time. He was young again and it was that horrible night. Cops were at the door and Sarah's face was a mask of pain as she nodded at the policemen.
For a long time Sarah couldn't speak, couldn't say anything to her brother and sisters as they crowded around her. Eventually she stood up and went to the bathroom. She washed her face, dried off and stared at her reflection in the mirror for a few minutes. Mike hadn't realised at the time, but looking back it seemed clear that Sarah was steeling herself for what she would have to do. She was saying goodbye to her life, her dreams, and her childhood, so she could break the news of their parents' deaths to her younger siblings, and take over as their new mother. As Mike watched, Sarah's face subtly changed, transforming into the surrogate maternal figure they had now grown used to.
Their mom and dad had been out celebrating their wedding anniversary that night, one of the few times they'd been able to get away from the five children for just a while.
Sarah returned to the couch, followed by her brother and little sisters. She began talking. She reminded her brother and sisters how much Mommy and Daddy loved them and, looking into each of their faces in turn, she told them the truth; that Mommy and Daddy were in an accident. She told them that Mommy and Daddy had been hurt and had died on the way to the hospital, and that they wouldn't be coming home. The children, though shocked, had understood. The family had recently learned about death, as their last grandparent had died.
Sarah told them that she would be taking care of them from now on, and she'd do her very best to make sure that they had everything they ever wanted. She held her siblings in her arms until the next morning, until the tears had fallen and the sobs had stopped.
Mike was trapped in a strange state that was half remembering and half being there. He thought of all the visits Sarah had to endure with the people from the State as she dealt with the bureaucracy involved in taking over parenting her brother and sisters. He thought of Sarah's graduation, and how she finally broke down when a friend of her father's told her of how proud he would have been of her. She'd clutched at the man's shoulder as her shoulders shook with sobs of pent-up anguish. He thought of the funeral, how many people had shown up. He hadn't realized that so many people had known their parents. He remembered Aunt Stacy and her family, his aunt and uncle, tears in their eyes as the eulogy was delivered by a family friend.
He thought of Danni, and how she'd changed. She'd been an outgoing girl before the accident, but afterwards, it seemed her mission was to give Sarah grief. She was always trying to sneak out or coming home with a boy, testing Sarah's authority and limits. The eldest sister had an iron resolve and never budged an inch, much to Danni's frustration. Their parents' death seemed to have precipitated this rebellious streak in Danni, causing her to want to go out more, misbehave more, take more chances.
Beth's reaction couldn't have been more different. She had always been studious, but she practically lived in books after the accident. Mike was the only one of the siblings she would talk to for several months, for some reason. She'd been closest to her father of all the girls, a genuine daddy's girl. Perhaps it was because Mike looked so much like his dad, even as a young man.
Emma plunged herself into sports, joining anything she could: cheerleading, track, volleyball, softball, basketball, swimming. She even considered trying out for the football team, but Sarah wouldn't allow it.
Eventually, Mike's strange, detached perspective turned inward, upon himself. He realised that he had first heard his lascivious internal voice just a few months after his parents passed away. It had started talking to him after he'd seen a dirty scene in a movie. He'd only heard it intermittently, maybe once a month, for several years and he had been able to mostly ignore it. But then when he became a senior it had become more intrusive. During one of his very few make out sessions with Emily, she'd let him play with her breasts under her shirt for the first time. The voice told Mike to tear her clothes off. His response had been to mentally tell it to shut the fuck up. He didn't hear it for several months after that.
The darkness fell again. When it cleared this time it was replaced by searing white light that stabbed at Mike's eyes as he struggled to open them. He tried to raise his hands to shade his face but something heavy prevented him from moving them.
'Blankets,' he thought. 'I'm in bed, but what the...?' How much of what he had experienced had been a dream?
He freed his hands from under the blanket, laid a palm across his face to block out the light and slowly opened his eyes. The light forced its way in around the cracks and creases around his fingers. His eyes slowly adjusted and he could see that there were several other people in the room.
"Sarah, he's moving," someone said. It sounded familiar, but he couldn't place it.
He felt a hand on his shoulder, soft, and gentle.
"Mike?" Sarah asked softly.
Mike opened his mouth to speak, but it was dry and nothing came out. He heard water pouring into a cup. The plastic rim touched his lips and the cool liquid poured in, drenching his dry mouth. He swallowed and felt the delicious water ease his throat.
"Want some more?" she asked.
He shook his head. The small movement made his neck and back ache.
"Try not to move, sweetie," she said. "You're pretty banged up."
Mike tried to speak again. His voice rasped roughly. "Where am I?"
Sarah, leaned closer. "You're in the ICU in the hospital, sweetheart. You were in an accident. You were the most seriously hurt out of all of us." He felt her tender caress across his forehead. "You've got cracked ribs, and the doctor was afraid you wouldn't wake up, as you had a nasty bang on your head."
"I was in an accident?"
There was silence for a moment, and finally Sarah spoke again, "Yes sweetie. You were driving Matt and Emma home from the club we were at."
Mike groaned in discomfort. "Was I drunk or something?" he asked.
"No sweetie," Sarah replied.
"That red-headed sonofabitch shot out your tire, man," said Matt, a note of puzzlement in his voice.
Mike was silent for a long while. "Who?"
The question seemed to strike everyone dumb for a few moments.
"How much... what... what's the last thing you remember, sweetie?" Sarah asked, her voice unsteady.
Mike sat quietly for a while, thinking. "I don't know, it's all sort of hazy. I remember Emma and me starting our first year of college. I remember going to class some. After that it's all sort of...gray. I dunno...I just...I can't..."
There was a silence, followed by Sarah's broken voice. "Sweetheart, that was about a year ago."
"That can't be right," he said, after a lengthy silence.
Sarah seemed unable to find her voice. She looked as if she were afraid she'd break down crying if she tried to speak.
Mike slipped back into sleep. He dreamed of Emily again. He smelled her perfume again and it brought more memories. Their vacation with friends to Padre Island drifted into his dream: how gorgeous she had looked in a bikini, still so sweet and innocent and pure looking. He'd almost felt evil for ogling her. They had sat on the beach together, holding hands as the waves washed around them. That was when she'd told him she was heading off to go to school in California.
Mike had cared about her, but doubted he was in love with her. Losing her didn't feel great, but it was okay. They'd had a good time together and they parted the best of friends. Things could have been a lot worse.
Someone shone a light in his eyes and something cold pressed against his chest. A doctor or a nurse checking him over. She finished her work and he heard the soft click of the door being closed.
He heard the low murmur of two people talking in the room, and he opened his eyes. It was easier this time and the light didn't hurt so damn bad. The first person he saw was Sarah. She was curled up in a chair beside his bed, her head resting on his thigh, softly breathing as she slept. He looked around and saw Missy, asleep in a chair by the window, her head propped on a couch pillow. Next to her, Emma and Matt were talking, both looked normal, though Matt seemed to have a bruise on the side of his head. Beth and Danni were curled up together, Beth holding her smaller sister while they bother snored softly.
He shifted: the movement woke Sarah and caught Emma and Matt's attention. Sarah lifted her head and saw Mike's blue eyes staring down at her. "Hi," he said, as if it were a normal day.
She chuckled and stood, moving to hug him as gently as she could. "Can I get you something?" she asked.
Mike felt his stomach gurgle. "How many days has it been? I'm starving."
"It's been nearly a week, sweetie. Your body has been expending extra energy trying to heal itself, so I'm not surprised you're hungry. I'll see when breakfast can be here."
Emma appeared by his side. She leaned down and kissed him on the head. "You scared me," she said, tears in her eyes. "I thought... we all thought we might lose you."
Mike tried to give her a reassuring squeeze, but pain shot through him.
"I'm sorry Em," he said, though he knew it wasn't really his fault, and she wasn't accusing him of anything.
Matt stood, his movement finally waking the other three in the room. "Hey bro," he said. "You need anything? Titty-mag, beer?"
Mike chuckled and took hold of his best friend's hand, holding it tightly. "I'm glad you two are okay. I wouldn't be able to handle it if I'd caused you two to..." He trailed off, unwilling to finish that thought.
"We're all fine," Beth said, though none of them looked it. They all looked physically and emotionally wiped out. "Just relax and let us know if you need anything.
She came over and leaned over the bed, kissing him on the head. He caught sight of her cleavage. Her breasts swayed enticingly in front of him as she kissed his forehead and he couldn't help but stare.
'Really dude?' he thought to himself. 'That's your sister!'
Danni looked the roughest of all. She'd been crying, a lot. Her eyes were red and tear streaked mascara had run down her face. She looked exhausted.
Mike was thoroughly confused. Danni had never seemed to care about him. All she ever did was insult him, and now she seemed to be the most broken up of all of his sisters. When Sarah moved Danni took a turn at hugging him.
"Do you remember anything from the past year?" Sarah asked eventually, when Danni had finally released her little brother.
Mike sighed and shook his head. "The last thing I can remember is heading to class with Em. You guys aren't messing with me?"
The sisters were all shaking their heads, a curious sadness in their eyes.
"Any idea when I'll get out of here?"
As if on cue, the door swung open and an older man came in wearing a lab coat and a stethoscope. The doctor strode over to the bed, followed by a pretty young nurse, Mike's sisters moving away from the bed so that they could look him over. Matt and Missy stood then, and began to gather their stuff.
"We're gonna get out of the way, brother," Matt said. "Call us if you need us."
"I'm so glad you're okay," Missy said, leaning over and kissing Mike on the forehead. She moved close to her brother as they both left the room.
The nurse clicked on a few lights as the Doctor began to inspect Mike. "So, how are you doing, young man?"
Mike turned his head and looked down at his lap, quiet for a minute. "I'm hurtin' like hell, and my sisters tell me that I'm missing a year or so of memory."
The doctor clicked on a pen light and checked his pupils, then clicked it off and stuffed it in the lab coat.
"Well, we were certainly concerned that this might happen. It's not uncommon for people to lose some memory with this type of injury. People don't always realize how serious head injuries can be. Unfortunately there isn't much we can do about it. Getting you back into familiar surroundings and around your family will probably be the best we can do."
"Will he ever get the missing time back?" Danni asked weakly. Mike glanced over and saw that she looked devastated. They must have stopped fighting in the year that he was missing memory, he figured.
The doctor looked over and shrugged. "It's really hard to say. Some people do regain some of what they lost. Most don't get it all back, however. It's doubtful that he'll ever get back 100 percent of what he lost, but there's always a chance."
Danni seemed crestfallen and looked to Sarah, who moved over to hug her, and whispered something in her ear. Danni nodded and squeezed her older sister.
"Let's check out the rest of your injuries," the Doctor said, pulling the sheet covering his legs back. "As for the pain, we can get you some pretty good pain medication."
Mike grimaced as he felt how bruised and sore he really was. His entire torso looked like someone had taken a bat to it. The doctor poked and prodded him gently. After a few more words to Sarah and Mike about caring for his injuries, the doctor quietly excused himself.
There was a long awkward silence as the sisters tried to figure out what the heck to do, to say, or even to feel. The sudden knock on the door startled them, and a young police officer came in followed by a detective in a white shirt and black tie.
"Is this a good time? We were told that he was awake," the detective asked.
Sarah nodded and waved them in. "I don't think he's going to be as much help as we'd hoped though," she said. "He's had some brain trauma and has some memory loss, or so the doctor said."
"Well, that's okay," the detective said. "I'm Detective Mills," the older gentleman said, looking at Mike. "I'm just here to get a statement from you, okay?"
A few questions later, it was abundantly clear that Mike couldn't remember anything from the night of the accident.
"We've got a bunch of reports from the club from eyewitnesses that saw the altercation. We've also got your sister's statement and that other young fella's, not to mention you and your other sisters mentioning the same car speeding past them. We have what's left of your truck and we'll be trying to get any evidence we can from it. We've got the suspect in custody now, so you don't need to worry about any more trouble from him. Thank you for your time and you try and get better young man," the detective said, turning and heading for the door.
The nurse came back in then and gave Mike a sleeping pill then, and made sure he had everything he needed.
Mike, still very confused, and very tired and sore, immediately began to doze off.
"Girls, I think we need to talk," Sarah said, pointing towards the door. "Let's find somewhere quiet and figure out what the heck we're going to do."
She stood, and followed by her three younger sisters, exited the room and headed towards the waiting room, which was basically another hospital room, but with couches instead of a bed. Peering in and seeing that it was empty, Sarah turned and waved to her sisters, shutting the door behind her as the last of them filed past. Again, an awkward silence began to settle down on them.
Danni, still on the verge of breaking down, spoke first. "He doesn't remember!" The words fell from her lips as the tears began to flow and she dropped her head into her hands.
Sarah knelt beside her little sister and cradled her head in her hands, kissing the top of her head. "Listen," she said at length, "I'm not going to pretend that I have the slightest clue about what to tell him, but I know we need to figure something out."
Emm and Beth were sullen, quiet and withdrawn.
Beth cleared her throat. "Look at it from his perspective. If he doesn't remember... what's changed and we tell him, it might scar him permanently. Personally, I don't know how he'd react. Maybe we need to figure out what caused his interest in us in the first place and maybe we can trigger it all over again. Maybe that would bring his memories back."
"Sarah, you've been the one watching over us for so long, how has Mike behaved around us?" Emma asked. "I only recently noticed how he looked at us. Has he always been so worked up about sex?"
Sarah smiled, remembering how often she'd caught him staring at her breasts in her customary apron. "I remember how he used to look at you when you came bouncing down the stairs, Danni. It always seemed like you wore those jogging shorts and sports bra just to antagonize him."
Danni lifted her head and smiled weakly. "Sometimes," she replied. "God, I used to get so mad at him. I used to love causing him grief."
"I remember thinking that it was a little weird how he always followed behind me when we ran, but mostly I just chalked that up to me being faster than him," Emma said.
The sisters managed to smile and laugh lightly at that, lessening the mood in the room.
"How many times did we catch him staring at Beth's chest?" Sarah said, causing not only a blush from the second oldest, but a smile as well.
"I wasn't the only one that was tempting him in the morning, either," Danni said. "Emma used to come down wearing exactly the same thing and he'd stare at her just as much as he would me. Beth kind of had the monopoly on his attention. I just think she didn't know it."
Beth smiled, still blushing. "Oh, I wasn't always as oblivious to his stares as ya'll think I was. I knew he was staring at me, I just... didn't always know why. He's the one that made me feel pretty." She sniffed sadly.
"He's the one that made me feel attractive again, and needed as more than cook and clothes washer," Sarah said, wiping a single tear away.
"He was my savior," Danni said.
The girls came together for a hug then. "I'm sure he'll remember and, if he doesn't, we'll just torture him again," Emma said.
Beth pulled back and looked at Emma like she'd slapped her.
"What?" Emma asked, concerned.
"That's it!" Beth exclaimed.
The other three looked at her curiously. "What?!" They all yelled.
"Don't you remember what you three did to him?" Beth asked. "Torture?"