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I arrived at the hospital before 7 AM, when it was the least busiest and the air was still crisp. There were flowers in my hand for my sister — a bouquet of lilac orchids, which was her favorite. I glanced at the words above me written in capital indigo letters: PARKVIEW HOSPITAL. It was the hospital my sister was in.
I took a deep breath and walked inside. The nauseating smell of antiseptic shot up my nostrils. Hospitals smelled like both life and death. As people are born, others die. I braced myself for the harsher odors in the wards.
"Hello." I greeted the receptionist wearing all-white clothing and a disposable mask. "I'm here for my sister."
She looked up from the computer. "Hello there. Do you have an appointment?"
"Yes, I'm Jane Foley. I made an appointment for 7 o'clock."
"Got it," she said, scrolling. "Jane Foley...and you're here for your sister, Rose Foley?"
"Yes," I answered.
"We'll have one of our nurses take you in a few minutes."
"Actually, I can take her," a voice interrupted. I turned my head to see a nurse who had come from down the hall. Her hair was tied back into a messy bun and she was clutching a clipboard under her arm.
"Great. Thanks," the receptionist said, not looking up from her screen.
I followed the nurse into the hallway. I was right about the smell. It was more crowded than I expected at this time.
"You look much like your sister," the nurse said, to which I nodded politely. "Anyway, thank you for bringing her flowers. She was in serious condition yesterday. She'd be happy to know she has company."
"Oh God. Is she doing okay?"
"Definitely improving." I nodded in relief.
The nurse brought me to her room and told me to stay outside for a minute. I studied the engraving of the room number (203) and listened while the nurse spoke.
"Your sister is here to see you," she said gently. I didn't hear a word from Rose. My heart started hammering.
"Alright, come in," the nurse called, setting her clipboard on the table. I gripped the flowers and stepped inside.
There seemed to be nothing wrong with her at first glance. She was covered in no blood, no scars, not even cuts. But her face was as pale as thin paper. Her eyes were dilated, revealing terror and shock, as if she was still trying to process herself in the hospital.
"For now, we believe it was an accidental drug overdose," the nurse began.
I shook my head. "Rose? I can't believe it." I stared straight into my sister's eyes. "Is she...why isn't she moving?"
"She's temporarily paralyzed."
"Oh my God." I cautiously touched her arm. "Rose..." My eyes pooled with tears.
"I'll leave you two alone. You have about fifteen minutes." The nurse wheeled a cart out of their room and shut the door.
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I set the flowers on the table next to the clipboard the nurse had left. I stuck my hand inside the bouquet and subtly took a needle hidden inside the fake petals.
It contained the substance I used to paralyze her yesterday.
I wiped my tears and turned to my sister, who was slowly reaching the call bell with trembling hands to alert a nurse.
I quickly seized the call bell before she could press it. "Looks like it's starting to wear off," I muttered.
Her mouth quivered. She steadily opened her mouth until her lips weren't touching. She mouthed a word so faintly that even a detective wouldn't be able to catch it.
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"I'm sorry," I whispered in her ear, grabbing her limp arm. "That I'm not sorry, Jane."
I knew what she was thinking. You don't have to do this.
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The needle went in.
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All Jane could do was frantically blink. I placed her hand over her heart.
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