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   Chapter 31 No.31

My Sister's Keeper By Bill Benners Characters: 7883

Updated: 2018-05-28 11:04


FRANTICALLY, I CHECKED CALLER ID—Unknown Number—and the phone directory, but found no listing under Sydney's name. Son-of-a-bitch! I jumped in the car and sped to her studio hoping to find some kind of emergency number listed on the front door, but there was nothing. Back at home I lay awake the rest of the night waiting for the phone to ring again. It didn't.

I fixed a pot of coffee and sat at the breakfast table watching the sun come up wondering if Sydney might be watching it as well, wondering what kind of night she'd had.

I took a shower, dressed, remembered the shattered cassette Martha wanted, dug it out of the trash, and gave it to her when I picked her up. We arrived back at the hospital just before 8 a.m., and I noticed Winston sitting in the waiting room on Dad's floor. His hat was tipped down over his face covering his scars. I supposed he was there to support Mom.

"You think he's being a little pushy?" I asked Martha wheeling her down the hall.

"Maybe he just wants to be close by in case something happens and she needs him."

"Nice guy."

Dad was still in Cardiac Care, but was now awake. Mom sat beside him holding his hand and although she looked tired, she looked relieved. When she saw us, she came out to tell us the latest news. It was not good.

"He's had a lot of trouble breathing today and his legs are swelling which they think is because he doesn't have enough circulation in his legs to remove the excess fluid."

"Can't they do anything?"

"They put him on oxygen and they gave him something to help with the swelling, but they said it would probably get worse."

I stood at the glass and watched Dad's chest rise and sink. I wanted to feel what normal people feel when they know they are losing their father, but I felt nothing. It was as if I was looking at someone else's father. Not mine. I'd never had a real father. For me there was nothing to lose. Nothing to miss. There was no love between us and there never had been. And that's what hurt the most. Why couldn't he love me? What more could I have done?

A tear strayed down my cheek. Mom saw it, threw her arms around me, and held me. I didn't have the heart to tell her I was crying for myself, not him.

We tried to talk Mom into going home and getting some rest, but she wouldn't hear of it. We did talk her into joining us for bre

dn't, Rich. I couldn't love you. I'm sorry."

I felt pressure in my neck and face. "I'm sorry, too, Dad."

"It wasn't your fault. Any man would have been proud to have you as a son." His jaw dropped open and his eyes reached out to me in a way they'd never done before. "Please forgive me, Rich."

I covered his hands with mine and leaned closer. A tear dripped off my chin onto his shoulder. "Why, Dad? Why couldn't you love me? What was wrong with me? Just tell me that one thing will you please?" He stared into my eyes. The beeping raced faster. My voice became thin and squeaky. "Is that so much to ask? What more could I have done?"

A buzzer on the monitor abruptly shattered the silence of the room. His head jolted back. "Promise me you will never repeat what I am about to tell you for as long as you live."

I leaned closer. "What?"

He pulled me down hard. I heard a rip and felt a button pop free. His teeth were clinched. "Promise me."

"I promise, Dad. I swear."

He fell back against the bed panting. His skin was yellow and scales splotched his face. "You—"

"What?"

He closed his eyes. "You're not mine."

I leaned closer. "What? What, Dad?"

A nurse burst through the door with a hypodermic needle. "You have to leave now."

His voice was just a whisper. "You…are…my…nephew."

"What?" I placed my ear against his lips.

The nurse inserted the needle into Dad's IV tube. "Please. Leave now!"

Dad's last words were nothing more than a hiss of air, but I heard them clearly. "Charlie was your father."

Then he collapsed.

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