My fingers instinctively clutched the pendant around my neck. I forced myself to let go as I pushed open the door to my sister’s room. Slipping inside, I shut it softly behind me and padded across the floor to sit in the hard chair beside her bed. The beeping of her IV monitor created a strange counterpoint to her rasping breath. I’d need to talk to the doctor about oxygen tents the next time I saw him. If Samantha had so much difficulty breathing, I didn’t understand why she hadn’t been placed in one.
“Hey, Sam.” I took her fragile, cold hand in both mine, gently rubbing it to try to infuse it with warmth. Blue veins snaked up her desicated arms like abandoned railway tracks. But without as much sustenance. “Oh god. Why can’t you just get better?”
I squeezed my eyes shut, forcing back the tears that threatened to overwhelm me.
A string of perplexed doctors had come through her hospital room, one after another. Taking blood. Examining her blood pressure. Poking and prodding. But all to no avail.
Every day, Samantha slipped just a little further away from me. And she was all I had left.
That and the necklace grandma had left me instead of Sam. Once again, my fingers closed around the brilliant sapphire. I could almost imagine its radiance pierced the darkness. I could almost imagine the cadence of Sam’s breathing changed.
Leaning forward in excitement, I laid one hand against her cold cheek.
Sighing in frustration, I leaned back in the uncomfortable seat. Tears leaked out unhindered, drawing matching railway tracks down my cheeks.
My thumb stroked the gem at my neck, and Samantha’s breathing once again caught in her throat, settling into a steadier, quieter rhythm.
I reached around and undid the clasp, sliding the necklace off and placing it gently against Samantha’s skin. I registered her eyes fluttering open as I collapsed in a heap beside her bed.
“For you Sam,” I said. And I thought no more.