Dear Admissions Committee Members:
I wish to write you about someone who has applied to become one of your newest recruits, to protect and serve the Milky Way Galaxy with honour, graciousness, and a level of selflessness that you will NOT see anywhere else, I guarantee. I will be sharing a piece out of my diary, and though that might seem odd, I beg that you please permit me the time to explain.
“Never tested on humans though.” That phrase has banged around inside my skull and slipped on the brain juice and got tangled up inside my grey matter so much over the last three weeks. “Never tested on humans though.” But I had read the good and bad on it. They made me understand. They forced me to understand. Even in my little brain, I got it better than they assumed I did. “Never tested on humans though.” It became my mantra over the last fortnight. I had asked the questions. I had been answered the answers. “Never tested on humans though.” It had become my heartbeat song.
I would have to give them my final answer in the morning. They had my answer five microseconds after the words had been said though. It hadn’t changed, and it wasn’t going to change.
The last thing I heard from the bio-rentals was that they were ‘considering’ the adoption by Nanny. I don’t see why SHE is holding on. I think she’s trying to wait until Trilly is a legal adult so she’s forced to have not have a happy life. If SHE keeps up though, I’m going to lose my sister. Why do adults have to be so selfish? If I ever get to be HER age, I’ll only do nice feels and I’ll fix things so that no one does bad worries longer than they need to. She’s such a festering bovine. I read that in a book one time. One of the ladies at the social club where a murder was committed was saying that to the other ladies about the murdered one. It makes me think of bad gross icky old zombie cow trying to eat the zombie cow brains of another just scared cow in the pasture.
So much has changed since she slapped Trilly. Since we saw the back of HER, slamming into the passenger seat of the Rolls Royce she insisted be painted the most pukey colour of off red ever. It looked like Trilly’s sheets the day she wakes up with her girly time and doesn’t prepare the night before. It’s like a brown red bloodstain car. It’s… girlytime redbrown and I have never been inside of it, even once. I am happy about that. SUPER happy. Money can buy some pretty dumb things. It can buy girlytime redbrown Rolls Royce cars, but it can’t buy pretend play tea time with a scared lonely little girl. It can buy a mansion, but it can’t buy respect from a teenage daughter who has been slapped too many times for being brave and acting as a voice for the lonely little girl. It can’t buy a lot of good things, but it can buy a few necessary ones.
My sleep was shifty and squidgy. I barely ever ever get comfy, and I know this is part of the decision. If I don’t do it, Doc says I have maybe four more years before I’m in a wheelchair for the rest of my short life, which could end in a week or as much as ten years from now. She says this isn’t just a ‘stop measure’, but an actual change. I’m going to grow, and develop. I’ll never be full height, but this surgery will make me stronger and taller and healthy. I could even live a full life like Trilly or Nanny or Doc or…
I wish SHE would just sign the fucking papers. Even thinking swears makes me giggle. I don’t say them out loud though. I know Trilly does her swears all the time and all the time, but I’m not sure Nanny would like me saying them for now. HE called here two days ago, and I got to talk to him for I guess five whole minutes before SHE interrupted him and broked the call off, but I don’t know why he doesn’t just call from his office. Or buy us cell phones. Trilly has a cell phone that she pays for with her babysitting monies. On its pay for on its work she says. I have no idea what that means, but she looks super seriousical when she says it, so I think she knows what it means.
If I lie in bed long enough, maybe I can convince my brain to shush and sleep again. “Never tested on humans though.” AAARGH! Brain stop it! Stop it right now! I want to get some good sleeps before I say what I have tell…
“OH I hate you, you stupid broked body that won’t grow! I hate my stupid hands that are too stupid to pick things up and hold them good! I hate my stupid feet that are turned funny and make me walk like a stupid bird that flew in to window lots of times. I hate you, I hate you, I hate you! AAAAARRRRRHHHH!!!”
“Bug, shhhhhhhh”, I feel her hands and arms and smell her sleepy night smells on her flannel nighty as she pulls me so softly onto her lap. I haven’t even opened my eyes yet, but I can tell from the dark pushing on my lids that it’s still too much night for me to be awake for realsies.
“Why am I so broked?”
“You’re not broken, my sweet lil Bug. You’re unique and special and beautiful and so so smart and funny and kind and sweet and gentle and good and the best baby sister in the entire universe.”
“Trilly, you say good stuffs and make me feel better. I’m so sorry I make you sad. I wish I wasn’t broked so you could go out and do dates with cute boys and do all kinds of fun things. I wish…”
“Clo, no, please, Clover, open your eyes and look at me. I don’t care about any of that. I will have time to kiss boys and have dates and think of a million ways to spend an afternoon with a boy, but I don’t want to right now. You are so much more important in my life. You have a big choice to make in a few hours, and I promise, no matter what, I’m with you, one hundred percent. I will always be a heartbeat away.”
“Trilly, you shouldn’t have to be my mama.”
I don’t make a sound, but I can hear that sound in her voice and I know it’s a feel. “That is on… you know what? I read somewhere that big sisters are supposed to do three things for their baby sisters. Did I ever tell you what these three special super secret things were?”
“No, I’d remember if you told me three secret special sister rules.”
“Well, one, is that I will always have your back. That means I will stand with you, whatever you choose.”
“Like when we were at The Park last week and Mella and I was kissing and holding hands and the lady sitting with Nanny on the bench said girls weren’t ‘posed to kiss like that and Mella kissed me again and you said ‘Clover can be with anyone she likes. Love is love, dammit, you fuc…”
I love when she laugh-talks to me. It makes my heart so skipped and happy. “Yeah, that’s exactly what having your back means.”
“What’s number two?” I can’t help but giggle, and she’s gonna ignore that silly kid part of me that thinks of poo every time I say ‘number two.’
“Number two goes along with number one, Clo, I’m being serious. Stop giggling that I’m saying piss and shit. The SECOND one, is that I respect your decisions, so long as YOU make them with an honest, clear, and well thought mind. I will not ever stand by and let someone force you to be or chose something you aren’t. Like these surgeries. If you were to say no more, there would never be ONE MORE. EVER. I wouldn’t allow it. Even if I lose you the next day, I will defend your right to choose until my last breath. Oh hush on those tears, Bug, you’re gonna get me sniffy too.”
“Never tested on humans though.” I let the words just hang in the air between us, and I think the temperature in the room just fell about a thousand thousand degrees in a half second. I feel more than hear Trilly’s breath on the top of my head, but it was a pretty heavy sigh. It feels like how my insides are feeling. Like an elephant is sitting on me and I have to go do jump rope on a trampoline in front of all the bullies in the park. I start counting in my head. One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. Boom. The elephant on me doesn’t get off, even though I am trying to send him away.
“Third thing,” I hear Trilly break through the words in the air and the elephant finally disappears, “is that until my last breath, I will love you. That means I will love you completely and wholly, and purely, and honestly, and truly. Not until your last breath. MINE, Clover. MY last breath. My bond with you only ends when I die. If you go…”
“I will die before you, Trilly, we were told by the Doc. If I don’t do the surgery, I have a year at the most with the way my kidneys didn’t grow, and they can’t keep me on dialysis forever. Other kids need that chance to live. I will go before you. I’m okay with that. It’s selfish, but it’s true. I don’t want to live in a world without my Trilly.”
“Oh, Bug,” is all I can hear, but I feel her soft quiet sobs on the top of my head where that stupid hole refuses to seal even though I’m almost twelve stinkin’ years old. Her body feels like a perfect hug should always feel, and I fit like a doll wrapped in her arms. She’s squeezing too tight and it hurts so much, but I need the squeeze, it pushes that mean old elephant away and I’m somehow okay with this pain. It’s love pain. It’s not mean pain. It’s soft pain. It’s not like when SHE… why do I have to think of the bio-mom when I’m in my happy hug world? I close my eyes and she lays us back on my too-small-for-her floor bed, I fit perfectly like a living china doll in her arms, my tiny feet not even reaching her thighs with my head under chin. I breathe in deep, and smell her coconut shampoo.
I can hear birds chirping outside, and need to pee so bad! I’m stuck! Oh, right, Trilly came to sleep with me.
“I…gotta…pee.” Her arm is a tree! “Trilly, I’m gonna pee the bed!”
“Huh…whaadidusay?” She lifts that tree arm and I can get free. Oh, everything hurts from sleeping like that.
“I can’t…STUPID FUCKING LEGS!” I screamed it and now I am really awake. And so is she. Three steps, she’s at the bathroom door with me like a football, reefing down my pink striped panties and plunking me on my toilet before she sits on the normal sized one breathing heavily and letting nature take its course for both of us.
“Better, lil Miss Sweary Swearatin from Swearsville?” She doesn’t sound mad, but I can tell that my swear changed something for both of us. Her tone is less playful when she speaks again after she flushes her toilet and I flush mine. “I’m sorry your legs are so sore. I didn’t think about how I laid us back down. That was my fault completely, Bug. Can you stand, or do you want a SuperHoodie ride for old time sake?”
We hadn’t touched the hoodie since my birthday, nearly a year ago. That was my favouritistic piece of clothing, and I had forgotten it. I was sad that I had ignored it. It was our heartbeat hoodie. Our tell each other secrets in hoodie. It was the best hug hoodie. “Yes please,” was all my body could say before I can feel the happy tears on my cheeks.
I’m not sure if I am ‘posed to be happy that I still fit in the front special pouch, or mad that my near twelve year old body hasn’t grown much more than the size of a five year old who doesn’t get to play outside or eat good veggies. For today, I’m gonna say I’m happy it fits me still. It feels weird with Trilly’s boobs sticking out so much now though in it, and they feel like weird pillows behind my head. I don’t want to be weird, so I’m going to stay shush about that.
I like how slow Trilly is walking down the stairs. I know what I’m going to say, but it is just a few more seconds alone with her and me, just the SuperHoodie between us. I wish I could make her stop and turn around and go back upstairs, but it’s time and I know that and the Doc is waiting and Nanny’s probably on her second pot of coffee already if she slept at all. She’s a good Nanny, and it’s sad she wasn’t just our Mama but was is our Grandma and…
“That was a pretty big sigh, Bug. Share-a-thought?”
“I wish Nanny was our Mama’s all.”
“Me too, Bug. With every ounce of life in me, me fucking too.”
I know she just did that swear to make me feel less squidgy about my own swear a few minutes ago, and I love her even more for that. See, those are the things I can’t explain, but it’s Trilly making this hoodie for us, and her doing a swear for me so I don’t feel weird, and… I know Nanny always says ‘actions, not words’, and true is true. Trilly didn’t laugh when I told her about Mella and me. She took me to the wading pool where I can sit in the water and not be in pain, and we talked until I looked like a light golden raisin. She asked me things and told me stuff and when we left the pool, we listened and talked and laughed. And no one else knows about our talk. Well, maybe her diary does, but I’ll never peek and see. That’s her safe book. I won’t tell her I know where it is, and that I make sure that no one takes it when they clean the house. I don’t think even Nanny knows where it is, and that’s good, because Trilly needs to have some place safe and quiet and good where she can do all her thinks and feels and fix stuff and plan stuff. I know it’s her fourth book as well, and where she keeps the other three books, hidden under the creaky floorboard but she has to move the bed out to lift it up. I’ve woke up or been in the bath in our bathroom and heard the bed scrape and the board creak up. She checks that they are still there. I saw one time, when I was in a not so ouchie day, and I snuck under her bed and felt the books. I’d never read them, but I do have a secret of my own. Her seventeenth birthday is in three weeks, and I had Nanny order a special soft suede dark lavender journal diary for her with a lock and keys on a necklace for her. It got here yesterday when Trilly was at school, and Nanny helped me wrap it up. Well, Nanny wrapped it and I put two pieces of tape on it and the bow. I made the card all by myself though, and I really hope she doesn’t think I’ve been reading her diary but I know she’s almost done that one and it’s old and worn out and looks like it has spun around inside the dryer a bunch of times.
“Clover,” Nanny’s voice is a bit insistent. “I said, what would you like for breakfast?”
“Um… cinnamon toast and peanut butter on a banana. Can you call Doctor Mallin please?”
“Already? It’s only sev…”
“Nanny, I didn’t change my mind. I need to tell Dr. Mallin my final decision.”
I know she’s not happy, but she taps the screen of her tablet, unlocks the screenlock with the code that she’s used on every password ever 874256 – TRI for Trilly and CLO for me – and three taps later, the kitchen is echoing the sound of the brrrip-brrrip-brrrrip ringing tone that makes me think of a phone drippy with water.
“Good morning Remy, how are your granddaughters today?”
“They’re fine, thank you, Doctor Mallin. The youngest one is impatient to inform you of her decision.”
“I gathered that. I’ve been awake for just over an hour, anticipating this call since last night at midnight to be honest.”
“SEE TRILLY?! We could have called her then!”
Trillium’s laugh is cut short by Doctor Mallin’s voice. “Lady Clover, you’ve come to a final decision?”
“Yes, I have.”
“And you’re aware of the risks and all the peer reviewed and collected and assessed data compiled, and to the best of your knowledge, you are making a firm and correct decision based on that information?”
“Yes, I am.”
“And you realise, that you are only one being in the midst of all of this who has a say in the matter, though your thoughts and feelings on the situation are being regarded as the utmost and veto-power level?”
“Bug, that means if someone else says no, you get to say yes and it sticks, or if you say no, and someone else says yes, your no sticks. Your body, your choice.”
“YES, all of what Trilly said.”
I’m not sure I like the idea of my Doctor being squidgy about my answer. It’s my choice, like Trilly said.
Doctor Mallin closes her eyes and says very calmly, so super quiet-like if you weren’t watching her say it, you’d swear she didn’t even breathe, “Clover Drea Montibuelar… What is your decision regarding the Pituitary Recalibration and Cerebral Realignment Surgery, knowing it has never been tested on humans though?”
“I want the surgery.”
“Please state the risks you are aware of, to the best of your knowledge.”
“I could die tomorrow or next week or in a year at the most without the surgery. I could die in a lot of pain and never hug Trilly and Nanny again or kiss Mella or…” Stupid tears. Now I’m mad that the tears are making me look stupid and silly and scared and I’m not. “I’m not scared. My stupid tears are just being stupid and I need to do this surgery because I need to give my life time and my body needs to grow and I don’t want to die tomorrow or next week and I…”
“Oh, sweet grandbaby.”
“Nanny, you just wiped peanut butter all over Clover’s pj’s.”
“Trills, it will wash. I’ll gladly…” she’s sobby now and I can’t look at Nanny when she cries because it makes my cry come too.
“I’m scheduling the surgery for the first opening. July 23rd.”
“Clover, I thought you just said you… have you changed your mind? Do you need more time to…?” I need to make Doctor Mallin understand.
“It’s fine, Bug. It’s just another Tuesday for me. It’s a good Tuesday for you to have a chance at a good future though. That’s the best birthday present I could ask for.”
“Doc, can’t I just do it the next day instead?”
“Oh, Clover, I’m so so sorry. The next available opening for the neurosurgeon isn’t until November.”
“You said, kiddo. Trillium, I’m very…”
“Nah, it’s fine, I’m fine, it’s fine. She gets the surgery. End of story. Capiche?” I know that hand wave. She’s hurt. She’s really hurt. And it’s my fault. I feel like a giant turdcicle.
She kneels down gently beside my chair, spins me around and we’re almost eye level with me in my booster seat. “I’m being petty and selfish. My baby sister has a chance of having the life I take for granted every fucking day. You deserve this, and I will not hear another word on it. You said yes, it is yes, and that is final. Veto vote has spoken. Motion carried.” The sound of the spoon hitting my juice glass is so loud next to my right ear, but I can’t help but giggle that it was supposed to be a gavel in her word story.
Surgery Birthday Day
Money can buy a lot of things, but it can’t buy what you need in the tense moments. It can though, buy the right to have those needs met in the tense moments.
Six years later, I’m looking back on this time, this surgery, with a completely new view of the universe. It wasn’t the fact that I was kept awake for seventy-eight hours straight that was the mind boggling thing though. It wasn’t even the fact that the team of doctors who started the procedure over three days before, were the ones to finally be awake and alert enough again to finish the procedure.
It wasn’t the skills, or the competence, or even the medical technology that got me through that day. It was the selflessness of one being. One incredibly brave, beautiful, sleep deprived, and forever unbreakingly sealed in my heart of hearts person. My sister. Who laid on that cold steel sheet of the lower level of my surgery table. My sister. Who ignored the vibrating phone in her pocket even though I could hear it against the table’s metallic ledge. My sister, who didn’t budge or eat or piss or… well, anything for seventy-eight hours. My sister. Who didn’t care that her seventeenth birthday had come and gone and the phone stopped vibrating when the battery had given out unchecked and uncharged for over three days. My sister. Who, when the stupid nurse asked me to for the nine-hundredth-million time to rate my pain level, even though they couldn’t do anything about it without potentially killing me, lost her shit on everyone in the room and demanded that they just shut up and do their work so I could get better. My sister, who has been my greatest champion. My loudest supporter. My greatest ally, and my closest friend. My sister, who sat with me in over a hundred doctor’s appointments, six surgeries after this one, and drove me to and from every physical rehabilitation appointment with nothing but glowing praise at my triumphs and accomplishments like I was training for the Olympics instead of just learning how to walk with adult sized legs after my growth spurt nearly killed me. She refused the money Nanny got as her “final payment” when the adoption went through, and instead worked two jobs and put herself through college and paid for everything on her own. Honest pay, for honest work. My sister. The selfless one. The strong one. The smart one. The sophisticated one. The greatest and most wonderful of all the sisters in the universe.
My sister, Trillium Logana Hawking, formerly Montibuelar before our wonderful adoption to our maternal grandmother, Remy Hawking, is the best you could ever hope for with regards to a diligent and proficient Peace Officer. The Galaxy will be safe with her protecting everyone. If our family name still carries any weight, even after the disgraced falling of our birth parents, please, I beg of you, this one and only thing. Please accept my sister as a recruit. You will not be disappointed. She is far to proud to know that I have sent this, especially on the grounds that I would do so by seeking favour with a name we have long since tried to detach ourselves from. But this is the only thing I would ever use my birth name for any kind of advancement. She deserves to protect everyone. She’s been training for it my whole life.
With the utmost respect and hope of consideration,
Clover Drea Hawking