I laid quietly and tears fell from my eyes as I thought about the words that made breathing unbearable. I could see him as he uttered those words, “Lock! Baby, the cancer is back. We beat it once and we will beat it again!” I could not believe what I heard. I saw so much in his eyes. I saw sadness, disappointment, hope, and fear.
After that, I saw his mouth moving but I couldn’t hear anything. It was still silence. I glanced at my mom as she looked at him, the man of her dreams. Her knight in shining armor. Her hero. I saw her heartbreaking. Finally, I turned and looked at the bravest girl I know. My little sister Audrey. Six years my junior and a welcomed surprise to my parents.
I remembered the first time I saw her bravery. We were at the mall’s food court with my mom. I was holding her hand while our mom was getting me a pretzel. I was so fascinated by the animals we had just played with at the pet store near the food court. I became immediately excited while holding Audrey’s hand when I saw the store clerk had brought out the puppies. It was only 30 feet from my mom and I wanted to pet them. I pulled Audrey back to the store.
The one that the store clerk called Snow ran towards me. She must have remembered me from earlier. Although I thought she looked more like a Vanilla Swirl because she was the exact same color as the vanilla swirl that sat perfectly on top of a sugar cone. She was a small pup. I sat on the floor and patted Snow while she sat on my lap. Moments later, my mom walked up and asked, “Baby where is your sister?” As I stood up trying to see through the sea of people and explain to my mom using my 8-year-old mind, she was right there, but she wasn’t.
My 2-year-old sister had gone missing. My mom dropped the pretzel, grabbed my hand, and started calling for my sister while running around asking people if they had seen her. Mall security walked up to us and started talking to my mom. My mom was shoveling through her purse to find the picture of Audrey that she had in her wallet. Another security guard walked up as I was looking through the crowd. I pulled my mom’s purse with hope when I noticed Audrey’s Barbie dolls on the ground in front of the pet store.
I ran into the store, and my mom and the security guards followed me. We saw Audrey sitting in front of a cat cage while poking her fingers in the cage as the little kitten played with her. She heard me call her name, turned around, looked at me, and said, “Josie! Kitty!”
My Mom picked her up and squeezed her so tight as tears fell from her eyes. My dad walked into the store minutes later, held my mom, and said, “I’m sorry you had to experience that.” He picked me up, and said, “You are a big girl and a hero for finding your sister. How did you do it, Detective Lock?” He put his loose arm around my mom who was still holding Audrey and kissed her. He asked if Audrey wanted to show him the pretty kitty. We adopted that kitty that day and named her AJ for Audrey Junior.
14 years later, Audrey was still exemplifying that bravery when she first learned she had cancer. She was a sophomore in high school. I was home from college during Spring Break and she looked at me and said, “There are worst things than a bald-headed cheerleader.” Then she showed me all these statistics on lymphoma and the survival rate. She told me that she was on Team Lock and she presented me with a baseball jersey top that read TEAM LOCK.
I did everything to hide my fear of her. I hugged her and stood in the perfect cheer stance and started clapping to the beat, “Team Lock, Team Lock! We are ready for a victory! Team Lock, Team Lock! This is our victory!” She stood up next to me and we cheered together. She hugged me again and said, “We have to teach mom and dad our cheer so we can kick cancer’s butt.” I told her I would be down shortly. I retreated to my room, closed the door, and sat there crying.
AJ curled up next to me as I cried. I could hear Audrey cheering for my parents. I rubbed AJ, stood up, and walked to the washroom so I could clean my face.
I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “You have to be brave for her. You have to be brave for her.” I put on my Jersey as I made it to the top of the steps, I could see my mom smiling as she watched my dad and sister doing the cheer. I ran down the stairs, took my mom’s hand and we all started cheering. During the chanting, I looked over at Audrey and I could actually see hope. She had no fear. My beautiful little sister had the biggest smile on her face.
Audrey had the same smile this night at dinner. She looked at me and said, “There are worst things than a bald-headed, prom queen.” I looked at her and started the chant again, “Team Lock! Team Lock! We are ready for a victory! Team Lock! Team Lock! This is our victory!” My dad was right. We won, after 9 months her cancer was in remission, and after a year she was cancer-free. I was ready to fight cancer again.
Our party of four sat in the middle of my favorite restaurant and began to chant. I kept my brave face for Audrey and when my father dropped me off at my apartment building, I hugged them all goodbye and Audrey got out and walked me to the building entrance. She said to me, “The doctors said we have a huge fight in front of us, but now you are here and not away from a college so I know we are ready for a bigger fight.” I hugged her tightly and said: “We are going to kick cancer’s butt.” I stood beside the glass doors as she returned to the car, cheering as they drove off. Before I boarded the elevator I pulled out my phone to call William, but I knew I had no right to call him and I called Marilyn instead and left a voicemail in a cracking voice: “The cancer is back.”
Now it’s 3 am and my best friend came to help me through this rough night as I lay there feeling alone. I needed William. I crawled quietly from the bed to grab my Team Lock jersey then I put it on over my tank and plaid pajama pants. After that, I put on my sneakers and walked the few blocks to William’s building. As I stood outside his building, my pain turned to fear because I didn’t know if he wanted to see me. Just as I was about to turn away and head back–I saw him, he was leaving the elevator. I thought it was faith. I walked through the doors only to see he was not alone.
A beautiful lady in a freshly wrinkled dress emerged from the elevator. I tried to turn away as fast as I could when I crashed into the couple that entered the building behind me and the noise of my apology caught William’s attention.
He looked at me and said, “Lock.” I looked at the young lady who had landed on the floor with me and told her I was sorry. Then I ran from the building. Running down the street all I could think was it has only been 5 days. I couldn’t believe after just five days I had been replaced. Sobbing as I ran past the bistro of our first date, I could hear my name.
I could hear William screaming my name again, “Lock! Lock!” I felt so humiliated as I waved down a cab. Boarding my cab, I watched William as he tried to catch up. As the cab pulled off I saw him punch one of the trees that line the street. The cab driver looked at me and asked, “Where to?” I was an emotional wreck so I said, “Away from here. I will tell you where in a minute.” As William appeared smaller I saw his companion walk up to him as he pulled out his phone. Seconds later, my phone rang and it was William. I ignore the call. I told the cab driver to take me to “143, 22nd Blvd.” I needed answers and understanding and I could only think of one person who could give me that.
Thank you so much for reading my short story. This is a series that will explore the life of Josephine Lock. Who do you think she is going to see? Could it be Alex, her father, her mother, or her sister? Who was the woman with William? It is up to you to decide what happens so post your vote in a comment below. Voting is also taking place on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Email. and also on Twitter. The series will pick up next Sunday with the most voted storyline. Please feel free to enjoy the previous posts Lock 1.1 and Lock 1.2. Thank you all in advance for your participation. If you are reading this series after the voting, please enjoy the next installment. How did you like the story? Any suggestion? Please share in the comments below. I really would love to know.
Until next time, shine amongst the stars!
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