Rise by Anna Carey Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Rise by Anna Carey Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anna Carey
the bile rising up the back of my throat. I swallowed it down, covering my nose with my hand.
    The doctor stood in the doorway to my father’s bedroom, waiting for me to come inside. I brought my shawl to my face as I entered the dim room. The curtains were open only an inch. A thin sliver of light fell across the floor and over the end of the bed. The vents blew above me, making the room feel smaller, stuffier, the sweat already covering the back of my neck.
    My father was in bed, as I’d never seen him. His navy pajamas had a dried yellow stain on the lapel. His eyes were half closed, and his skin had a strange gray hue I’d seen only on the dying.
    I closed my eyes and returned to the quiet of her room, to the time I’d opened my mother’s door. She’d been sleeping, her head turned to one side, the bruises spreading out along her hairline. Blood was crusted black around her nose. I’d started toward her, wanting to curl up in the bed, to have her tuck her knees beneath mine the way she always did when she held me. I climbed onto the mattress and she awoke, pushing back against the headboard. You have to leave , she said, bringing the blanket to her face. Now . When she finally shut the door I heard the lock settle, then the slow scrape of the chair legs, as she dragged it under the doorknob.
    â€œI’m doing everything I can so he’s comfortable,” the doctor said. He tilted his head, watching as I dabbed at my eyes. “It happened late last night. It’s likely a virus. It’s not the plague, though, I can assure you.”
    I studied my father’s lips, the skin blistering at the corners of his mouth. His face changed, his expression tense as he struggled against something unseen. I knew this was my doing—he was hurting because of me. Now, in the midst of it, I felt like I was shrinking into nothingness. I’d gone into his suite and poisoned his medication while he waited outside the door, thinking I was sick. Here, like this, he was just the man who’d loved my mother. Who’d found me, after all this time, to tell me that.
    I went to his side, staring at his hands, the thick blue veins bulging beneath the surface of his skin. One was stuck with a small tube, the blood still wet beneath the clear tape that held it there. “It’s me.” I leaned in so he could hear. “I came to see what was wrong.”
    He turned his head and opened his eyes, his lips curling into the faintest smile. “Just a stomach virus, that’s all.” He wiped the spit from the corner of his mouth. “Tonight?” he added, looking to the doctor.
    â€œYes, we’ll have a much better sense of things tonight. We’ll see if he’s improved at all. Right now the main thing is keeping him hydrated.”
    My father pressed his hand to his side, his body stiff and tense. The doctor ushered me back, then leaned over him, listening to his breathing. “You can come back later today,” he said, gesturing to the door.
    I just stood there, watching the way my father’s feet tensed, his toes pointed to the ceiling, one knee raised as he tried to brace himself against the pain. He let out a low, rattling breath, then relaxed a little, his eyes finding their way to me. “Don’t worry, Genevieve.” When he smiled it looked like he was trying not to cry. “It will pass.”
    I stared at the floor, at the swirling pattern in the carpet, the thin sliver of light moving with the curtain. I thought of my mother. Would she be disgusted with me now, her daughter who’d done these things to someone she had loved? No matter how many deaths he was responsible for, hadn’t I now done the same thing? Was I no better?
    I turned to go, pausing in the doorway as he coughed, flinching at each of the wet, choked gasps. It was too late. It was done. Now I only hoped he wouldn’t have to stay like this, half alive, for much longer.

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