And then Mary fainted. Cynthia tried to lift her, but her unconscious older sister proved too heavy. Afraid to leave Mary but seeing no other option, Cynthia sprinted down the block toward the family home and rapped on the door insistently.
The girls’ mother, Sarah, answered. Seeing her youngest daughter’s strained face, she asked, “Cynthia, what’s wrong?”
“Mary just fainted!” Cynthia said breathlessly.
“Steven,” Sarah yelled for their father, “Come quickly!”
“What’s happened?” Steven asked his wife.
Cynthia led her parents to the spot where Mary lay on the ground, limbs sprawled out in every direction. Steven gently picked up his eldest daughter from the ground and carried her quickly back to the house in both of his arms. Sarah followed at his heels, her nervous adrenaline the only thing keeping her on her feet. Cynthia sulked at the back of the single-file line her family now formed, ashamed she couldn’t do more for the sister she had always looked up to.
Once inside the house, Steven carried Mary upstairs to her bedroom, while Sarah followed quietly behind so she could nurse her daughter. Sarah would not leave Mary’s side until the latter woke up.
Still downstairs just inside the front door, Cynthia couldn’t bear climbing the stairs to her own room. That would mean passing Mary’s room, and then the odd feeling of guilt would resurface. So she huddled in a corner of the living room, very aware of one thing: something really bad had happened, and whatever it was, it wasn’t normal.