“Simplicity is the glory of expression.” - Walt Whitman
It has been a week since I have woken up and I already know that Jeremy is dead, Harriet started cutting and I have an older sister. Her name is Chloe Willow Rhode and she is Layne’s age; nineteen. I honestly want to get to know her but, if the doctors are right, I don’t have the time.
“What’s wrong, love?” Layne asks.
“Why didn’t they do it?” I ask.
“Pull my plug.”
“We don’t want you gone.”
“The doctors even said that it’s the nicest thing to do.”
“Who gets the last say?”
“Is it just because I am your boyfriend?”
“No. You’re also the oldest of us and my legal guardian.”
“Oh. I never knew that.”
“You do now.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“I don’t even have half a year, Layne.”
“How long, Clara?”
“Two to three months at the most.”
“Don’t do anything stupid.”
“Three months at the most?”
I nod. “I’m sorry, Layne.”
“I wanted to start a family with you,” Layne sobs.
“Tell me how it would be.”
“We would be living in the same house we are living in now. I would be a famous singer and you would be a famous athlete. We would have tow cute little kids; a boy and a girl. Lucy and Zeke would visit one day, and Hari and Nick would visit every other day.”
“What are their names?”
“The boy would be called Jeremy, after your brother, and the girl would be called Lissa, after your mother. They would be popular and smart, just like us. Jeremy would be on the football team and Lissa would be a cheerleader. They would be twins and get along perfectly.”
“What about the house?"
“The rumpus room would stay the same as it is now, Jeremy would have Harriet’s old room, Lissa would get your mother’s old room and we get your room. There are no more razors laying about, and there would be no blood stains. There would be an old swing set in the backyard along with an in-ground pool.”
“I can see it."
“There are a few gardens out the front with deep red roses planted in them and a cobblestone path leading to the door. A vine has grown up the side of the house and onto the roof of the carport. We would have a Ferrari and a Mercedes. We would be that rich.”
“What about us and the kids?”
“I am only home for a few months a year but, we call and Skype as much as possible. You sometimes have sporty things, so you leave the kids with Zeke and Lucy, or Nick and Harriet. They absolutely love Jeremy and Lissa to death.”
“They know about our ‘dark years’ and we stop them from going through what we did. Jeremy prefers to be called ‘Jer’ and Lissa prefers ‘L’ or ‘Lis’. They are so mush like us and Jer. We visit Jeremy’s grave every Christmas, Easter, New Year’s, Thanksgiving and birthday, not wanting him to miss out.”
“We do that too,” Layne sniffles. “We do it all.”
“Go get a doctor, babe,” I whisper.
“Just press the button.”
“Get me a doctor.”
“I’m not leaving, Clara!”
The tears stream down my face and I hold Layne’s hand tightly. He whimpers and tears start to stream down his face too. I sob and he tries to hold back. I nod to let him know that it’s okay to cry, and he sobs loudly.
“I’m scared, Layne,” I whisper.
“So am I,” Layne cries. “Just be strong.”
”My hands, your hands tied up like two ships. / Drifting weightless, waves try to break it. / I’d do anything to save it. / Why is it so hard to say it?"
“You read my journal.”
”My heart, your heart sit tight like book ends. / Pages between us written with no end. / So many words we’re not saying. / Don’t wanna wait ’til it’s gone. / You make me strong."
“I wrote a bit of another. Want to hear it?”
”If we could only have this life for one more day / If we could only turn back time / You know I’ll be / Your life, your voice, your reason to be / My love, my heart / Is breathing for this / Moment in time / I’ll find the words to say/ Before you leave me today."
“I’ll name it that.”
“Go get your dream.”
“Go be a singer with Zeke and Lucy, and Nick and Harriet.”
“It won’t be complete without you.”
“Fall for my sister. She looks just like me. Pretend it's me if you have to. I'm sure Chloe won't mind. She needs someone. Just like I need you; just like I will always need you.”
“No. That’s wrong.”
“You’ll need to move on eventually.”
“I don’t want to.”
“Clara?” Lucy asks.
I look up and see all my friends and family in the doorway; Zeke and Lucy, Harriet and Nick, Josh and Clarity, Austin and Maria, Ed and Aiden, Gemma and Tony, and Chloe and a familiar looking boy.
“Hey, guys,” I say.
“I’m so sorry, Bee,” Maria says. “We both are.”
“I forgave you both years ago.”
“I shouldn’t have been such a bitch, Clara,” Clarity whispers. “I’m so sorry.”
“Forget it,” I say. “You too, Josh.”
“I - we- should be the most sorry,” Gemma sniffles. ” I do understand if you don’t forgive us, like...ever.”
“There’s no need to be sorry, sister,” I assure. “It is my fault.”
“Clara,” Chloe says. “You should meet your older brother Zed before...you know.”
“Hey, Cee Bee,” Zed says, taking my hand. “I never stopped looking for you and Jeremy.”
“Thanks, Zed,” I say. “We all could have been quadruplets then.”
“Get over here, Baker.”
Aiden does so. “Did Harriet and Nick show off?”
I frown. “No.”
“Show her, idiots.”
Harriet and Nick walk over to me and we all smile at each other. Nick shows me his cat tattoo, that has all our names in it, and the tattoo of my name on his wrist. Harriet shows me her infinity tattoo with my name in it and I smile.
“Guys...” I breathe.
“Zeke and Lucy got some too,” Ed adds.
Lucy shows me a fifth arrow tattooed on her arm and I see my name written in the centre with darker ink. Zeke shows me a tattoo of a boy and girl playing football and my eyes widen. I look closer and swear that they look like Layne and I.
“It’s Layne and you,” Zeke says.
“Zeke... Luce...” I say.
“Everyone got a tattoo.”
“Even if it was just your name,” Aiden says. “I didn’t charge.”
“Layne?” I ask. “What’s yours?”
Layne grins. “It’s not finished but...”
Lou lifts up his shirt and reveals a heart with our names written in it. I smile and Aiden nudges me, pointing to my hip. I pull up my shirt slightly and everyone sees the tattoo I have been hiding. It is a simple tattoo that says ‘L+C’ with an infinity sign.
“Clara...” Layne whispers.
“I’ve had it for years,” I giggle.
“Since you were twelve?”
I nod. “I bribed Aiden and Ed.”
Aiden clears his throat. “Umm...”
Ed whistles and looks away.
“Clara,” Harriet growls. “Baker. Martin.”
“I bribedthemwithadateandkiss,” I mumble.
“What?!” Layne gasps.
“You heard me. At least it wasn’t more.”
“If it was, we would not be having this conversation.”
“Layne, your mental states cease to amaze and shock me.”
My head starts to pound. “Ouch.”
“I’ll get a doctor.”
“Let it be.”
“No ‘buts’, ‘ands’ or ‘ifs’.”
“I want you all to stay,” I say. “Stay until the end.”
Harriet and Nick walk over to us and stand next to Layne, Lucy and Zeke.
“You two have always been my brother and sister.”
“You have always been our sister,” Harriet manages to say while Nick holds back his sobs.
“The same goes for you and Luce, Zeke.”
“That means so much to us,” Zeke murmurs, blinking tears away.
“Aiden and Ed. Just get together. It’s clear that you’re both in love with each other.”
“Clara!” Aiden groans.
“Josh, Clarity, Maria and Austin,” I say. “Be happy.”
They nod and I turn to my last two siblings.
“Don’t let any of your kids live like Jer and me,” I warn. “Promise me that.”
“I promise, Cee,” Chloe whispers.
“I promise Cee Bee,” Zed promises.
“Gemma and Tony,” I say. “Don’t do anything stupid.”
“We won’t,” Gemma laughs.
I look at Layne and see tears running down his face. I wipe his tears away and smile at him. I clutch his hand tightly and smiles back at me. There are so many things I want to say and there are only three words they can be summed up into.
“Layne,” I whisper.
“What do you need, love?” Layne asks.
“I need to tell you something.”
“What is it?”
“I love you.”
Layne smiles. “I love you too.”
Layne kisses me and I know that this is the last time I’m going to be able to do this. Knowing that, I put everything I’ve got into the kiss; my hopes, my dreams, my passion, everything. Layne eventually pulls back and everyone cheers.