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  The Nichols Syndrome part 1
By Kelli Nichols

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He placed his thin fingers on her shuddering shoulder, "Please, donít cry anymore. Itís all right." He said, bent forward and kissed the top of her head through his unkempt mustache. This was the first time he had shared such a tenderness with her.

"Do you remember when we were kids," she began, "when we had that little John Deere Green mailbox and how we used to leave special mail for each other? Do you remember that day you stayed home from school, and gathered up all of mom and dadsí bills and old envelopes and stuffed them all inside the mailbox? You waited for me at the bus stop and told me I had mail. I was so excited, you were too, and together we ran into the house and I opened the little flap on that little metal box and I snapped. I got so angry when I realized none of the mail was really mine and I yelled at you so loud. I canít ever forget the look on your face when I turned against you, and I still donít know why it made me so mad. You ran away from me, crying, and slammed the door to your room. I followed, scared of the ugly person Iíd just turned into. I remember opening the door, seeing you on the bed, cuddling your favorite teddy bear, the Panda, and my five year old heart sank. You looked up at me, face filled with embarrassment and rage and you said that you would never forgive me, that things would never be the same. And I believed you."

His hand was still resting on her shoulder and he gave it a gentle squeeze. "We were little kids, Hanna, it was no big deal. I got over it." Not even an hour after the incident, they were out in the yard, playing Star Wars together. He was Luke and she was an ewok. Together, a winning team.

"You donít understand. From then on, I carried the guilt with me and I feared making you angry with me because I didn't want you to hate me. I realized that our bond was not invincible and that one day, this was going to happen. I just didnít know how. And after all of this bullshit that weíve been through, what can we do now with the hours you have left?"

Tyler walked around to face his sister. He pulled out a chair from the table where their entire family, all 17 of them, had shared many turkey dinners. His tall, bony frame wheezed as he sat down. He lifted his brown leather hat from his stringy black hair and laid it on the table next to his cigarettes. He pulled one hand down across his head, attempting to straighten out the sweaty nest some might call hair. He picked up his Pall Malls and withdrew one from the pack. He placed the smoke in his stained teeth and flicked his purple bic. The lighter struck after a few tries and he breathed in the toxic air, letting the exhale flow smoothly from his chapped lips.

to be continued

 
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