A Night Forgotten
It was around one in the morning when Cody shook Kari awake and told her to get dressed. Kari, unaware of what was happening, quickly did as she was told. He led her to the car and told to her go back to sleep once they were inside. Cody watched as his father guided the paramedics to his mother. As the ambulance drove off, their father rushed into the car, quickly following it to the hospital.
Arriving at the hospital, Cody gently shook his sister awake. Their father instructed them to meet him at the lobby. Cody obeyed and rushed off with his sister. By now, Kari had fully awaken. Cody waited for Kari to ask the question. And she did.
"Cody, where's mommy?"
"She's…sick right now Kari. She'll be okay, don't worry."
Cody looked down at his sister, trying to look as reassuring as possible. She was only six. It'd be best if she never knew what really happened, he told himself. Once they entered, Cody found his sister a seat on a soft-cushioned couch. Cody stood around for a while, pacing, but later retreated to the comfort of the couch. By now, Kari had fallen asleep once again. He looked at his little sister, peacefully resting. Why did this have to happen to us? he wondered.
After an hour, his father was still not back. Nearing three o'clock, he decided a nap wouldn't hurt. Moments later, he saw himself in his room, recalling those hours that seemed so distant, yet were so clear…
It was around midnight. As Cody was finishing his research paper for science, music played in the background, filling the room with the rhythm and beat of popular rock songs. It wasn't too loud, as to not wake anyone, particularly Kari, but loud enough for him to hear the lyrics clearly. He hummed along with some of his favorite bands as the music played. He had almost completed his paper—only a few more paragraphs and the conclusion remained. Around half past midnight, he heard some rustling in his parent's room. He ignored it, thinking it was nothing. A few minutes later, his father came out, telling him to dial for an ambulance and yelling that his mother was having a heart attack. Cody froze, trying to absorb the information. His father returned to the room. The door was opened a little. Cody didn't want to look, but forced himself to. A glint of red was all he needed to know it wasn't a heart attack…
Cody awoke. His father towered above him.
"How are you holding up, son?"
"Strong as always, aren't you Cody?"
"I'm just a little tired, Dad."
"Mom's doing fine now, Cody."
"Good to know."
"How long has Kari been asleep?"
"Since we got here…what time is it?"
"It's a little past five. I'm sorry about what happened, Cody. I was already asleep, and I presumed she was asleep too. I didn't mean to lie to you…but I needed your help. And I was afraid if you knew what really happened, you'd freeze…"
"It's alright, Dad…but you were right—I did freeze."
"Are you still up for school today?"
"Yeah…" Cody's voice trailed. School would keep his mind off the night's event and help him sort things out, wouldn't it? But he hadn't finished that paper yet…should he miss school? "I…need some more rest first."
"If you want, you can take a break and rest up a bit before Mom returns. I'll give you some time to think about it. Let's get you home first so you can at least get in a few hours of sleep."
Cody's father swept Kari up in his arms. They left the hospital just as the sun began to rise. The ride home was silent. About half an hour later, they arrived in front of their two-story house.
"Have you made up your mind yet?"
"Yeah, I'll go to school…it'll…help me clear my mind and give me time to sort things out."
"Make sure you and your sister get to school on time then, okay? You'll be fine on your own for a while, right?"
"Yeah, we'll be all right."
"Do you have your keys?"
"Yeah, they're in my backpack."
"Good. I'm going back to see how Mom's doing. I'll be back as soon as possible."
"Are you sure Mom's going to be all right?"
"Definitely. She's just as strong as you." He winked. "Don't worry yourself so much."
Cody headed towards the front door with his sister in his arms. He looked down. She was still fast asleep.
Cody's waited as his father opened the door and punched in the code to disarm the security alarm. As Cody went to set Kari down on the living room couch, his father went to his room and locked it, apparently hoping to keep Cody away until he could clean up the mess. Their father promised to be back before school would end, then left.
It was almost six. He could take a short nap and still get up in time for school. Around seven, Cody woke up. Kari stood next to him, eyes wide, looking down at him.
"Cody, I'm hungry."
Cody jumped, a little startled, but quickly settled himself. "What do you want for breakfast?"
"Uhh….how about some eggs instead?" Cody suggested.
"Ok. And some toast."
Cody headed into the kitchen. He had often made himself eggs in the morning and some toast when his mom was out of town for an important meeting. His dad usually left for work before he even got up so he had adjusted to his morning chores.
He got out two eggs and put several slices of bread into the toaster. After setting the pan above the stove, he quickly set up two plates with forks and spoons. Kari stood nearby, watching him.
"Kari, why don't you go watch some TV? I don't want you to get hurt. This oil can get pretty hot and jump out of the pan," Cody suggested, with a half-hearted smile.
Kari returned to the living room and turned on the television. Flipping through the channels, she finally found a show that she liked: Dragon Tales.
Cody hummed to the tune of one of his favorite bands as he flipped the eggs. The toaster rang. Once the eggs were done, he scooped them onto the plates and placed the pan in the sink. Afterwards, he went for the toaster and retrieved the toast. He spread the butter. Everything was set except for cups of orange juice, which he poured moments later.
"Everything's ready Kari."
"I'm coming…" Kari entered the kitchen. "Is Mommy at a meeting again?"
"Yes…she's at another meeting," Cody replied softly. His sister had obviously forgotten all that occurred. "Eat before your food gets cold."
After breakfast, Cody got dressed for school. He checked to see if his sister was ready.
"Cody, I can't get this on."
Kari was struggling with her sweater. He tried smothering his laughter, but did not succeed.
"Are you laughing at me Cody?"
"No…why would I do that?"
He rushed over to his sister and helped her find her way through the sweater.
About a quarter to eight, brother and sister left the house. After Cody walked his sister to school, he made his way to his friend's house, not too far from Kari's elementary school. Shortly after he knocked, the door opened.
"Good morning. Is Dan ready yet?" Cody politely asked Dan's mother.
"Good morning, Cody. Aren't you a little early today?"
Cody looked down at his watch. He was slightly earlier than usual.
"Oh…right…sorry. I can wait."
"I'll tell him you're here."
Cody waited a while. Dan appeared at the door.
"Come on in, Cody. Why are ya here so early? Something up?"
"No…just the usual." Cody wondered if Dan suspected something. How tired did he appear?
"I just gotta eat breakfast. Then I'll be out."
"Sure. Take your time. I didn't realize I was so early."
Cody sat down and listened to the news. Nothing new.
Cody and Dan left fifteen minutes before the school bell would ring. The walk from school wasn't long—about five minutes.
"Did you finish your paper for science?" Dan asked.
"No, I was going to finish it during Homeroom. Did you?"
"Yeah, it took me nearly all night, but I got it done. Next time, I'm going to start researching earlier. You never know when something might come up."
"I totally agree."
Nearing the school, they separated, heading quickly to Homeroom before the bell rang. Cody reached the classroom just in time and quickly found a computer to finish his paper. He typed quickly and worked all through the half hour he had. Luckily, he finished before the bell rang. As he headed for his first class of the day, Health, flashbacks reoccurred. Each memory only brought more pain and confusion. He had to stay strong, he told himself…he just had to…but the confusion simply made things worse.
He entered the classroom and took a seat. Twirling his pencil, his eyes focused on the chalkboard at the journal entry. But it was too hard to concentrate. His mind drifted as he tried to sort out the confusion in his head. He closed his eyes…
Cody's dad rushed through the hall, heading for the phone.
"Cody, go wake Kari," his father urged him.
Cody wouldn't budge.
"Go!" he yelled, more forcefully.
Cody rushed off to find his sister, but before he did, he quickly glanced into his father's bedroom. A broken bottle was rolling around on the floor.
By the time Kari got dressed, his father was back.
"Get in the car. Take your sister too."
Kari, still half asleep followed Cody to the car and quickly fell asleep. Cody quickly buckled Kari's seat belt; then his own. The sound of sirens grew louder as an ambulance approached…
"Cody, are you feeling okay today?"
Cody jerked his eyes open and turned to face his teacher.
"Yeah, just a little tired…"
"Try to pay attention. I can assure you this will be on your test."
Cody looked up to the board. Written in bold was the words "mental health." Below, several mental conditions were listed. He skimmed the definitions and quickly jotted them down on a piece of notebook paper.
A light bulb went off in his head as he approached the word depression. He was finally able to piece everything together. As he thought about it more, he realized how many symptoms his mother had shown, yet also how no one had noticed. How could they have been so blind? he pondered. Knowing this only made him feel worse…
Later that day, he walked home as usual with Dave. Arriving home, he saw his dad's car in the driveway. As he walked in the door, his father greeted him.
"How was school today?"
"Cody…if you want to talk things over, I'm here."
"It's okay, Dad. I'll be fine…just fine…"
"All right, but remember, I'm always here for you, son. Kari's eating a hot dog in the kitchen. There's still one left, if you're hungry."
Cody nodded and headed to his room. He dropped off his backpack. He peeked into his father's half-opened bedroom. The bottle and pieces of glass had been swept away.
Cody found his sister slurping on some Kool-Aid as he entered the kitchen and helped himself to a hot dog.
"Kari, how's the hot dog?"
"Good. I think Mommy's are better though."
Cody said nothing as his face went blank.
"Don't worry Cody. Daddy told me that Mommy is sick, but she'll be back by the end of the week. She's feeling better now." She smiled.
Cody loosened up a bit. He sat down and took a sip of his coke he had just grabbed from the refrigerator. Maybe things weren't as bad as they seemed. Later that night, things went as normal, even though their mother was missing from the dinner table. They eagerly discussed their plans for the weekend, when their mother would return. Cody let the painful memories go. He would forget the night, as if it never happened. Everything will return to normal. Things would get better. We will be the happy family we once were, Cody thought. We simply would…