Short Story

Engl 81

February 4, 2004

He sat on the cold step, staring moodily at the willow tree, his expression revealing nothing in the early morning light. For some reason just beyond his grasp, he suddenly hated his surroundings, hated the beauty of the rural scene spread out before him. How could there be such a bright new day, he wondered, when inside there was such sadness?

The screen door squeaked, and he knew Ginger had followed him out, needing to escape the oppressive air inside. She sat down on the step behind him, resting her cheek against his skinny shoulder. He knew what she was going to ask, dreaded her asking, for voicing their fears out loud would make them definite, make them real, and after that there was no going back. “Brian? What’s going to happen to us?” Ginger sniffled, wiping her nose with the hem of her shirt. Brian sighed. “I don’t know. She’s real sick.” “Yeah,” replied Ginger.

Ginger scooted around him on the step and laid her head on his leg. He stroked her hair, the same chestnut color as his own, thankful for the silence, and sat that way for a while, watching the sun rise. After a while he glanced down at Ginger, who had fallen asleep with her head on his lap, her thumb in her mouth. She had turned seven the day before, yet in her sleep, she looked so vulnerable, so dependent on him. He didn’t know what would happen. What he did know was that he would keep his promise to his mother, and take care of his sister. He sighed again, and tried to figure out how a high school freshman could take care of a seven-year-old girl. “I’ll think of something, Ginger.” She stirred and looked up at him. “Promise? Promise,” he replied.