“We drove home, and my parents and I walked into our cold, empty house. I ran to my room. I cried her name again and again: Lauren, Lauren, Lauren!
Blond, beautiful, fun Lauren.”
I lay crying, in bed, with a body.
That body used to belong to my sister, my pale, thin-skinned, dark-haired sick sister. She was the happiest girl in our town and would help people who were sad or angry.
My mom was also about to cry. She sat in the corner of the room next to my dad. I wailed and cried until I almost could not breathe. Then, my mom came up to the bed, patted her head, and let a tear out. Then, she left the room. We followed her to the parking lot of the hospital. We drove home, and my parents and I walked into our cold, empty house. I ran to my room. I cried her name again and again: Lauren, Lauren, Lauren!
Blond, beautiful, fun Lauren.
When I finally stopped crying, my mom came in.
“I am going to run for Congress, Elizabeth,” she said firmly.
“Really? That is great. But why?”
“I am going to run because someone must run against having to pay for healthcare. It is not fair for people who are dying because they do not have enough money to pay for medical insurance to cover a simple checkup.”
I looked at her in surprise.
“Would you mind being a part of my campaign?”
“Sure,” I said hesitantly.
She gave me a big hug. Then, she went to meet with possible supporters.
Later that day, she came home with a sad expression on her face.
“Hey, Mom, why are you sa –”
“Hi, Rachel, do you want some warm stew for dinner?” my dad cut in.
“That would be wonderful, thank you,” my mom answered, thankful.
After we devoured the stew, I put my dishes in the dishwasher and went back to my room, my cold, empty room which was just like the rest of the house.
I could not go to sleep that night since I was thinking about my sister too much. I found myself looking at her soccer posters hung up on the wall and her toys lined up at the end of her bed. Those were the toys she played with before she was sick, before we were sad, before she died.
I slept in my sister’s bed to remind me of her.
The next day my mom went off to work on the campaign and did the same for the next two days. The third was different. She asked me to come with her and skip school. When we walked over to a small house at the end of my block, I laid my eyes on an old man and a young woman, who had a stack of little cards with my mom’s pictures on it. (She looked really good.)
The photo made me really sad because I realized how much Lauren looked like our mom — her blonde hair, her eyes, and her smile. It also made me sad that she was not here to fight for her health.
The young woman gave me a stack of little cards and told me that I could give them to people around my neighborhood. When I stepped outside the door, I felt encouraged because we were fighting for a good cause and helping people vote for their rights.
I stepped up to the front door of a nice, petite, yellow house, which was across the street from our house. I never noticed the house because I was always having so much fun with my sister. A little old lady came up, and I gave her a card.
She looked at the card for what seemed like forever then said, “Young lady, you look a lot like this nice woman in the photo.”
“Yes that is because she is my mother,” I informed her.
“That makes a lot of sense. You live across the street. Don’t you?”
“Yes, in that small pink house,” I responded.
“May I bring some muffins near dinnertime for a little gift for you and your family, and your sister. You have a sister, right?” she asked.
“Yes, but she recently passed away,” I said sadly.
“So sorry for your loss. What is your name?” she asked, eyes full of pity.
“My name is Elizabeth,” I told her.
“Okay. I will see you later, Elizabeth. And thank you for the card. My vote is going to you and your family,” she said in a sweet and gentle voice.
I walked away from the house, excited that we at least had one vote. I walked over to the next house. The house was very old with paint chipping and loose boards on the patio, but I still knocked. A man stuck one eye out of a little crack in the door. I offered him a card, but he declined. Instead, he gave me a card with a picture and black letters on it. When I returned to the sidewalk, I stared at the card. After a few minutes, I realized that he was the guy who was running against my mom.
After I left, when I got to a trash can, I threw the card out so that my mom wouldn’t think I was trying to conspire against her. When the sky darkened, I headed back to the small house, where I met the old man and young woman. When I arrived at the small house, I got inside and saw my mom and the people who were helping with her campaign. When I came in, they all looked at me with a smile. I placed the rest of the cards on the table. My mom said her goodbyes to the people, then I followed her to the house. When we got home, we saw my dad talking with the old lady who lives across the street. They both looked at us, my dad with a face that clearly said, “Help me!” The old lady had a basket that looked filled with muffins.
“Hello, Elizabeth, and I am guessing this is your mother.”
“Yes, this is my mother. What is your name? I do not think you told me when we met?”
“Oh, yes. Sorry. My name is Harriet.”
“What a lovely name,” my mom said.
“We have been talking for a long time,” my dad said, with a pinch of annoyance in his voice.
“Yes. It has been very nice talking to you, but I think I must go. Sorry I could not talk for longer. I love your house, and I can help with anything you need. I will be right across the street!” Harriet said.
My mom faced me and said, “Who was that, Elizabeth?”
“Oh, that was the old lady I met while giving out the little cards.”
“And she can talk!” my dad said dramatically.
“Well she does live by herself,” I said.
There was a knock on the door. My mom went to open it and found my aunt Ellen. I was so excited to see her because every time she comes over, she brings gifts! I went to welcome her and before I said anything, she dragged in a big gift. I dragged the big, heavy, pink gift to the living room and opened it. Inside lay a black and blue bicycle! I was so happy because it matched the one my mom had, and my old one was too small! I was so excited. I ran to my parents to show them. They were so happy. Then, they looked at Aunt Ellen with surprised faces.
“You bought this for her?” my mom said.
“Yes, of course, I have to keep my record of bringing gifts for my niece.”
“Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,” my dad and mom laughed sarcastically.
“And I thought it might come in handy.”
“What?” My mom and dad said in unison.
“Ohh, nothing. Nevermind,” she said. “And I will not be able to go to the debate tomorrow.”
“Well, okay. Let us go to the kitchen and talk over some coffee,” Dad said.
“Great! Sounds good,” Aunt Ellen replied.
And they walked to the kitchen. By the time I finished staring at my bike, trying to ride it in the house, and being yelled at by my parents, it was time to go to sleep. I got ready to sleep and got in bed, but before I went to sleep I prayed. I prayed for my sister’s safety up there.
When I finally went to sleep, I dreamt that Lauren was still alive and we played and played. When I woke up, I was very sad to end my dream because I was having so much fun. My mom came in the room.
“Sweety, wake up, it is time for the first debate!” my mom said energetically.
“Okay. Getting up,” I said.
I was so excited that I forgot about the dream. Once we were out in the driveway, we realized that all of our tires were flat! My mom was furious and so was I. After about ten minutes, my mom had an idea.
“Wait here. I will be right back.”
A few minutes later, she came out with two matching bikes. They had black and blue stripes. I jumped up and down and praised my mom. Then we got on the bikes and were off to the debate. We finally got there! When we did, we saw John. H. Corel, the guy running against my mom, staring at us in surprise, and Aunt Ellen.
What was she doing here? And with him?
To be continued…