"...so that is why I believe fashion is important!" Kara concluded as she and her sister were walking home from the school, which was only a short block away. They were only allowed to walk home from school if Elijah walked with them. Sophie always stayed after school for extra-curricular things. This meant that Elijah had to walk all the way from his middle school to Kara and Laney's elementary school. It wasn't too much of a walk so he didn't mind.
"Well I don't. I really think I can dress comfortably and still look good. I don't have to wear all the pretty stuff and accessorize like you do."
"What's wrong with accessorizing? It's so fun to add bracelets and necklaces to your outfits! You wouldn't look bad with a cute pair of earrings!" Kara giggled.
"I don't really want to get my ears pierced..." Laney tugged lightly at her ear lobes and her face turned red, "I don't like the idea of it hurting or anything..."
"Yup, you knew that sentence was coming, Kara." Elijah cut in, "You know Laney hates pain. She always has, I mean... who doesn't? What I mean is Laney doesn't tolerate pain well."
"Still, it's only a tiny pinch!" Kara nudged her sister playfully as they were crossing the street.
No one would have seen it coming, Elijah and Kara walking quickly across the street to the sidewalk on the other side that would get them home. Laney stumbled, catching herself as she hit the ground. Her palms scraped up a little, but nothing terrible. As she stood, she glanced over and saw a car speeding down the quiet street.
Elijah turned around, "Laney!" He shouted, just before the car slammed into her tiny body. She flew into the hood, immediately rolling over the top of the car and back onto the street with a sickening thud.
Kara's eyes were wide with horror as she began to scream Laney's name in terror. It felt like it happened in slow motion, seeing her body tossed like a ragdoll.
The car was gone as quickly as it had come, almost as if the little girl's body being tossed over the driver's windshield had no effect on him.
"Laney!" Kara was screaming as she ran to her sister's side. Her eyes were wide with shock and fear as she examined the bloodied frame of Laney.
Laney's eyes were wide open, she tried to speak but instead coughed, blood staining her lips and her chin. She looked around as if her mind wasn't processing what just happened.
Elijah was right next to Kara, "She's in the middle of the street! We can't keep her here!"
"B-But Momma says you should ne-never move a body, she could be... she's..." Kara was sobbing loudly. "Laney!"
Laney stared at the sky, unable to feel, her limbs wouldn't move and all she could hear was ringing. A lot of ringing in her ears prevented her from understanding what her brother and sister were saying. Elijah was on the phone with someone.
"Y-Yeah, we're on Brighton Street!" He exclaimed, getting on his knees next to Laney, "She- She's coughing up blood! A lot of blood!"
Kara was bent over Laney, stroking her hair soothingly, "Stay with us, please!" She sobbed, "You're going to be okay!"
"I-It came out of nowhere and just hit her and sped off! I barely saw it! Sh-She's closing her eyes!"
"No, don't, stay awake!" Kara sobbed.
"Laney?" Elijah bent down over her, seeing where her chest had been rising and falling quickly, he then noticed that it wasn't moving at all. "No, no! She's not breathing!" He cried, "What do I do?!" He listened to the dispatcher, thanking God that his parents got him an emergency phone for Christmas the year before. That was all it could do, other than call Lorelai and David.
"I don't know how to do CPR!" He sobbed, "What do I do?!"
Kara watched Elijah as he listened to the dispatcher's instructions, then put the phone on speaker and shoved it in her hands. "Hold that!" He then began to carefully tilt Laney's head back in the same way the dispatcher had instructed him; pinching Laney's nostrils shut, he gave her two breaths of air, then began chest compressions. He counted to thirty, then repeated the process.
"Is she breathing yet?" The dispatcher asked.
"N-No! Not yet!" Elijah exclaimed.
"Okay… the ambulance is almost there, so just keep doing the compressions and rescue breathing. You're doing very well. What's your name?"
"E-Elijah Harrison! I was walking home with my two sisters from school!"
"What are their names?"
"Kara Harrison… and Laney Harrison! Laney is the one who got hit!" It took all of his energy for Elijah to try and stay brave for Kara.
For Kara it was like watching herself dressed in different clothes laying on the street. The two of them were identical, and extremely close. They finished each other's sentences, sometimes even spoke the same thought at the same time. She reached out and touched Laney's hand, at first being afraid that she would break her sister.
"Can I hold her hand?" Kara rasped, her eyes were still full to the brim with tears.
Elijah didn't answer, he was still doing compressions.
"C-Can..." Kara sobbed, Laney still wasn't breathing. There was so much blood, Kara had never seen so much blood before. It was matted in Laney's hair from a wound on her head, and her shoes were laying somewhere on the side of the road. Her skin was so pale, and that was the scariest thing besides the blood.
A slight gasp escaped Laney's lips and Elijah stopped, having broken into a sweat working so hard to bring his sister back.
"Sh-She's breathing again!" Elijah exclaimed triumphantly just as he heard the sirens. Laney coughed harshly before she opened her eyes again, the corners of her mouth and chin were further stained from the fits.
"What do I do? She keeps coughing up blood now!" Elijah exclaimed, but by then the ambulance had stopped and paramedics got out. "Th-They're here!"
He got off the phone, his next task was to call his mother. He and Kara were in shock, but Elijah had to do his best to take care of the sister that hadn't been hit by a car.
Lorelai walked the corridor at the hospital. She'd just gotten out of a very intense operation when her phone began to ring. She glanced at the clock when she saw Elijah's name on the caller ID and frowned. It was late, she knew he should have been home from school at least forty-five minutes before. He usually left a message, but up until then there hadn't been any calls while she was in the OR.
"Hello, Eli! Did you get home safe?"
"Mom..." Elijah began slowly, "Laney was hit by a car."
Lorelai's eyes widened in horror. "Elijah, where are you now?!"
"Kara and I are with the police, I told them I would call you and they are going to take us to meet you at the hospital. Y-You're still working, right?"
"Yes, I'm on my way to the emergency room right now!" Lorelai had to stay calm, she had been through this before with her husband, but her children? Her eight year old daughter was hit by a car.
A car hit my eight year old... a car... a car HIT my eight year old?! Lorelai pressed the button on the elevator frantically, knowing for a fact that it would not get her to the emergency room any faster the harder she pressed.
"Mom, are you still there? We're almost to the hospital..."
"I'm still here, sweetie, I'll see you soon. Do you want to stay on the phone with me?"
"I need to comfort Kara... she's really scared."
"Okay, I'll see the two of you soon. Does your father know?"
"Not yet... I have to call him next."
"No, I'll call him. Go comfort your sister." Lorelai said bye to Elijah and hung up, finally making it to the Emergency Room floor. She rushed out of the elevator just as the paramedics were bringing Laney into the hospital. She was on her way to the waiting room, and her image of Laney was very brief. She could see them pumping oxygen and orders were being called to the doctors waiting for her arrival.
In the waiting room, police were standing around with Elijah and Kara sitting together. Elijah was holding Kara's hand and trying to keep her calm.
"Eli, Kara!" Lorelai called, rushing over to them and wrapping them in a comforting hug. "I'm here now, it's going to be okay! Where are your other siblings? And Zach?"
"I'm not sure; aren't they home yet?" Elijah asked, wiggling out of the hug. He'd never really been one for hugs, and Lorelai had almost forgotten that. Kara wiggled closer though, sniffing pitifully.
"Hmm… oh, your father is calling me back." She flipped her phone open and pressed it to her ear. "Hello?"
"The kids just got home. They're changing clothes, then Zach and Ian are going to help me into the van."
"Who's driving?!" Lorelai exclaimed, knowing that Ian and Amber had only just gotten their licenses.
"Zach, of course. Ian and Amber are too shaken up. Is there anything you'd like us to bring?"
"A change of clothes for Eli, Laney, and Kara. The ones they have on are… well, y-you know." Lorelai gulped, attempting to keep her cool. She had Elijah and Kara with her right there… she needed to be their support. Elijah caught her eye, and smiled a little. He was trying to comfort her, but he had it all backwards. She was the mother. She should be doing the comforting. "You'd be proud of Eli. The paramedics told me that Laney had stopped breathing, and Eli did CPR on her and brought her back. She was breathing again when they got there."
"And the best big brother award goes to Eli! I will congratulate him when I get there."
"He may appreciate you doing that right now instead."
"Okay, hand him the phone then."
Lorelai held the phone out to Elijah. "Your dad would like to speak with you." She offered him a warm smiled as if to tell him that he wasn't in trouble. He took her phone and held it to his ear.
"Dad? I-I'm sorry. Kara and I were already across the street when we realized she tripped. I was about to go out and get her when-"
"Eli, you are my treasure, son." David began, his voice soft and loving. He wasn't even close to sounding angry. "You have no reason to apologize. You are every bit the son, and big brother that I'd hoped you would be. I am so, so very proud of you. You stepped up when your sisters needed you most, and that is something very special. Sometimes accidents happen, and you just can't prevent them… but it's how you respond to them that matters."
"But Dad, I-I didn't look both ways before we crossed." Elijah gasped a sob. "It could have been prevented!"
David sighed heavily. "Did anyone ever tell you why I lost my legs?"
Elijah shook his head, then remembered his father couldn't see. "N-No, sir. I think I remember hearing it was an accident, though."
"I was hit by a car while crossing the street on my way home from the grocery store to get things for Ian and Amber. Your mother was I think about eight months pregnant when that happened. I pressed for the crosswalk, waited until it told me to walk, looked both ways-twice, and then when I was halfway across the road, someone ran the light. He swerved to avoid me, but panicked and swerved into me, pinning my legs against another vehicle. Your mother was shadowing an ER surgeon at the time, and was in the OR when they brought me in. That was how she found out about it… and she was the one who helped amputate my legs. The point is… some things are just meant to happen, and will happen no matter how many times you look both ways. No matter how you try and prevent them, they'll happen. But the way you react to those things… that's always in your control. You reacted exactly the way I expected of you, and I couldn't be more proud of you."
"Were you angry with Mom when you found out?"
"No… I was angry at the situation. I was angry that she had to witness it as well… but I could never be angry with her… not ever. The same goes for you, alright? Now, does your mother look like she's about to cry her eyes out at any second?"
Elijah took a moment to look up at his mother, who was hugging Kara tightly, her eyes shut tight. "Y-Yes, actually…"
"Alright, listen carefully. What I want you to do, is go wash your hands, and remember that credit card we gave you in case of an emergency? This constitutes an emergency, so I want you to go to the gift shop after you wash your hands, and buy each of the girls a nice bouquet, including your mother, alright? We'll pick up Sophie at school, so don't forget about her."
"Just tell your mom that you've got to do something for me real quick or something."
"Alright, Dad. I'll see you when you get here." After saying their goodbyes, Elijah flipped his mother's phone closed and handed it to her. "I've got to go do something for Dad! I-I'll be back in a bit!" He said before hurrying off.
Elijah soon found himself in the gift shop after getting himself cleaned up. There was a whole wall lined with beautiful bouquets and for Elijah, it was almost too easy. Pink was Kara's color, so he found a bouquet with hot pink daisies and pastel pink roses. His mother loved fall colors, so the one with bright orange and yellow flowers were perfect for her. He wasn't sure what kind of flowers they were, but it was worth a shot and the colors were right. Amber's were lavender, and he believed they were tulips. Yellow tulips and red daisies for Sophie, and last but not least, Laney.
Thinking about Laney was putting his stomach in knots. The last he'd seen her was just before the paramedics whisked her off. The expression on her face, her eyes searching around in shock before she ultimately died right in front of him. How his heart thudded loudly in his chest as he tried to bring her back. He was running on adrenaline, he knew once they got the news that he might just collapse. He shook himself out of the daze, holding all the bouquets in his hands when he looked up and saw the perfect set for Laney. Dark purple and blue hues seemed to fit her well. He grabbed the last one and carried them to the counter.
After a long time of carrying them back to the emergency room, he finally arrived and found several seats filled with siblings. David was the first to notice his return and gave him two thumbs up on his choices.
"Hey, Mom..." Elijah came up behind her where she'd been hugging Sophie.
Lorelai turned around and her eyes widened at the armful of bouquets. He carefully shifted them and handed her the fall colored flowers. "These are for you." Then he moved a little to the side and handed the red and yellow flowers to Sophie.
"These are so pretty!" Sophie cried, her voice cracking from sobbing.
"Kara..." He found his littlest sister sitting close to Sophie, "I know you like pink."
"Eli..." She sniffled, taking them from him and hugging them carefully.
"Amber." He came upon her last, handing the lavender colored tulips to her.
"Oh my word, Elijah, these are just so gorgeous!" Amber held them and hugged Zach's arm as her chin quivered, about to begin crying again. All the girls were looking at him as he still held one bouquet in his hands.
"This is Laney's..." Elijah squeezed the stems, looking down at the floor. If anyone wasn't going to cry, it would be Elijah. He smiled warmly, "She's going to be okay. I'm going to hang onto these for her... for now."
The room was somewhat noisy when Laney opened her eyes. Her body felt numb and she couldn't see straight for the first few seconds.
"Laney..." A soft voice came from her left and she was relieved that she could hear something other than beeping and humming. She glanced over, unable to move her neck, just in time to see her mother's face hovering closely over her. She received a soft kiss on her forehead and felt her hair being smoothed back gently.
"Hi, sweetie..." Lorelai moved aside so a doctor could come over, flashing a light at her eyes. She followed it left and right, blinking rapidly at the intense headache that came on. She wanted to speak, but there was something preventing that, something in her mouth, or was it in her throat?
"Good, good... she responded to your voice and she followed the light. That's a good sign."
"Y-Yeah..." Lorelai wiped a tear away from her eye as the doctor guided her out of the room. "She looks pretty good..."
"Yeah, she does. We're probably going to keep her on the ventilator for a couple of days."
"I thought so. I'm just so relieved she woke up, two days... I was just..."
"I understand." The doctor smiled and placed a hand on Lorelai's shoulder, "She's in good hands, just keep on supporting her."
"We will." Lorelai then went to fetch Elijah, who had gone home at some point to try and keep the bouquet alive for Laney. She'd brought him with her but had him wait outside just in case anything happened. The two of them arrived back in Laney's room a few minutes later, Elijah clutching the bouquet in his hands.
"Laney..." Elijah walked up to her bed cautiously. She was covered in tubes and wires, her head was bandaged and there was a tube in her mouth as well. He was surprised when she looked at him, her eyes tired with dark circles around them.
"I bought you these..." He laid the flowers beside her, uncertain if she could grasp them or not. "I'm sorry they are kind of late... I wanted you to see them right away, so I kept them alive."
Laney looked a little perplexed, but then she gave a weary smile.
"I'm glad you woke up... Kara's been crazy without you. Everyone is going to be here tonight, all of us. It's... not even nine in the morning yet... so we're all coming to sit with you. Mom hasn't left your side this whole time."
Lorelai nodded and giggled, "What can I say? I'm mom, what kind of mother would I be if I wasn't here all day and night?"
Laney blinked, still looking very tired, but the questions her eyes asked were obvious.
Lorelai sat at the edge of the bed and sighed, "The doctors had to operate on you, it was very serious and your lungs needed a lot of work, I won't lie to you, it was really scary. We were all praying for you the whole time. You were out for two days, but now you're here and we can keep getting you better. That tube in your mouth is helping you breathe until you can breathe on your own again... I know it's not comfortable, but it'll be okay. We're all here for you, do you understand?"
Laney reached over and squeezed Lorelai's hand.
"That's my girl... you're growing up so fast."
Kara had been around the hospital when she was smaller, sitting in the daycare while her mother worked sometimes if her father was too busy to watch she and Laney. The two of them would play for hours, nap holding hands, and share food. Then at the end of the day, Lorelai would scoop them up in her arms and take them home.
Kara cradled a stuffed bear in her arms. He was a little ragged, like he'd been through his own set of troubles, but in all truth he was just well played with and one of Laney's most treasured toys. He was a brown bear, and Kara had a white one just like it. Everyone was with her when she entered the hospital room, not having nearly prepared herself enough for what she'd see.
"Can she talk?"
"Not yet..." Lorelai nudged her forward as the rest of the family filed in behind her with get well balloons and small gifts.
Kara approached Laney's bed and gently placed the stuffed bear in the crook of Laney's arm. "Hi... I'm so happy you're okay."
Laney's eyes opened slowly and she looked over, squeezing the bear at the same time. A soft smile spread on her face and then she reached her hand out to touch Kara's.
It seemed everyone except Zach was there for her. Kara knew Zach was still getting used to being surrounded by people, so he politely said he would come visit with Amber on a different day.
"Please get better soon, Laney... I feel like it's my fault."
"Why do you think that?" David asked, moving his chair forward so he could comfort Kara.
"I... I don't know!" Kara cried, "I just feel bad! I was picking on her about fashion and I just feel bad!"
"You two always pick on each other." David said, pulling her close to him, "Laney holds nothing against you, she's happy to see you and she'll get through this - we all will."
"Yeah!" Ian smiled, "Zach was on a ventilator too, and he's doing great... he got better; so will Laney. Look, she's smiling at you."
Kara turned around to see Laney reaching out a shaky hand.
She sighed and stood close to the bed so she could take Laney's hand, squeezing it gently. "I know what you're thinking... you want a giant bowl of ice cream covered in caramel and chocolate. I also know that you are worried about sports... right?"
Laney gave a slight nod to answer.
"I knew it. Also... you're welcome... I thought you might be needing your bear."
"Isn't being a twin awesome?" Ian asked, nudging Amber's arm slightly.
"Yeah, we're super lucky." She giggled, then walked over to be next to Kara and Laney. Sophie was standing close by holding two balloons. The room was soon covered in gifts and everyone was chatting up a storm.
Except for Laney, who just enjoyed the presence of her family, and the comfort of all of them talking around her.