I thumbed through a magazine, ignoring the constant beeping of the hospital. My father was standing at the end of the hall talking to a doctor and a social worker. He was beaming and waving his hands around.
Mariah sat next to me. She glared at everyone who walked past and kept glancing at the door to our left. The beeping was especially loud there. Rhythmic…
“I shouldn’t have let you off.” Mariah stated casting a withering look towards me.
“But you did. And here we are.” I calmly stated, clenching my fist around the magazine.
“Stupid rules,” Mariah stood up and walked towards my father, “Stupid girl.”
Mariah was right. The rules of Expelled were not practical at all. But they were followed. The biggest rule was whoever the Expelled first encounters is going to be guardian/sibling. I guess it was supposed to creath stability. I fixed my gaze on the pristine white door. Room number 102. I thought of the girls face when she opened her eyes. Like I was a monster. I shook the thought away.
Just in time, a doctor appeared out of the room and looked at me.
“Jen Clyde?” He looked around and I raised my hand, “Where are your parents?”
I quickly pointed to my dad and Mariah. My dad had turned to me and gave me a thumbs up and oddly, my stomach lurched. He rushed over and shook hands with the doctor. The exchanged a few words. The doctor opened the door and me and my father entered.
The room smelled like fake sterilizer. Like someone had tried to mask the smell of the lives that had been lost in the room. The girl sitting in the bed looked so tiny. She was passed out… snoring peacefully. Her black hair was crusted with dried sea salt and she smelled so sunburnt it was nauseating.
“She’s so pretty…” My dad said, his voice edged with awe.
“What did the doctor say?” Mariah asked. I think she believed if she ignored the girl she would disappear.
“He said she was stable enough to be brought to a permanent home!” My dad’s excitement oozed out. It felt contagious because within seconds I was excited about having a sister.
“Are you guys ready to move her?” The doctor had poked his head in.
“Ready when you are.” Mariah spat back, “We’ve been ready for the past few hours.” I shot the doctor and apologetic look and his took a deep breath.
“Yes ma’am.” He gestured several other doctors and nurses into the room as they loaded her back onto the same stretcher she had came in on.
We left the hospital and neared an ambulance. They quickly dispensed her in and my family hoped into the back with her.
They drove us back to the now deserted diner and carried her strecher up the stairs. Our house was on the second and third floor of the diner.
My parents room and their bathroom was the second floor. My bedroom was directly above theirs. The spare room, now the girls, was down the hall from mine. The quickly brought her up and dispensed her on the bed. The nurses and doctors were out of the house before we could thank them.
Mariah sighed angrily and went down to the diner to grab dinner. My father rushed to the storage room and we started decorating the drab room.
The off white walls were suddenly covered with paintings. I grabbed a beanbag and rolled it into the corner. Pulling odds and ends together I was able to fill the closet with clothes that would maybe fit her. I finally threw the curtains open and my father admired my work.
We ate in her room that night. Watching her small chest rise and fall. I could see that Mariah mildly hated her.
“Well?” She broke the silence mid dinner, “What are we going to call her?” My father watched her.
“She looks like a Cali…” My dad observed. Mariah nodded, pretending to be content. I nibbled on a piece of bacon. It felt wrong to give her a new name and treat her like a new baby. A sudden sense of worry formed in the pit of my stomach. I was going to start back at school in a week and it was highly likely I would have to bring the girl with me.
Mariah and dad finally went down the stairs to wash the dishes in the kitchen, leaving me with the girl. She stirred in her sleep and murmured.
I stood up and went down the hall into my bedroom. I curled up on my bed and watched the world move outside my window. A couple cars pulled up to the diner and people jumped out. The diner was open all day and all night. I counted several people come in and out before my eyes closed.
I woke up when the sun shined over the edge of the buildings. Cars had started to trickle into the streets and people jogged along the sidewalks, smiling and waving. I stretched my limbs and went over to my dresser, grabbing some clothes, quickly showering and getting dressed.
The house was warm and smelled like syrup and bacon. I jogged out of the bathroom, still pulling up my hair. I heard my dad stumbling around in his room, probably looking for some document. I was halfway down the stairs to the diner when I remembered the girl.
I turned on my heel and ran up the stairs. When I opened her door, I thought she would still be asleep. I was wrong. The girl was up on her feet, pacing around the room curiously poking the beanbag and pulling all of her clothes out of the drawers.
She must have heard me coming up the stairs because when I came in, she quickly dropped what she was doing and watched me. I smiled a genuine smile.
“You’re Jen.” She stated, the memory of her arrival crossing behind her eyes.
“Yeah,” I marveled, shocked that she could remember that. She continued watching me. She didn’t seemed phased by where she was… just curious, “Do you want some food?”
“Food would be good.” She agreed and followed me out. I looked her up and down quickly before realizing her first public appearance couldn’t have her looking like this.
“Your going to need to clean yourself first,” I led her to the bathroom and turned on the water. She nodded and I handed her an outfit, “I’ll be right outside.”
When she came out of the shower she looked like a whole new person. She shifted uncomfortable in the outfit I gave her. She wore a brightly colored cotton shirt along with some black jeggings. I quickly brushed out her hair and we descended the stairs into the diner.
The diner was busier than I had ever seen it. I grabbed my apron and dragged the girl into the kitchen, where my dad was absentmindedly stirring some pancake mix. His face lit up when he saw both of us.
“Morning, Jen and Cali!” He shouted, “I have breakfast for you guys!” He handed me two plates and I led the girl the counter. She gulped down one bite of bacon and her eyes lit up. I smiled but something was eating away at me.
“Do you… by any weird chance know your real name?” I asked. She looked at me and froze. A million things seemed to happen at once.
“Yes.” She said, almost doubting herself.