The door burst from its hinges. Tom stood there facing his sister Stella, splinters of wood at his feet.

“Where is it?” he hissed, his bloodshot eyes darting around the room.

The bookshelves behind Stella brimmed with well-used medical books and memoirs.
One book lay open, face down on the floor, a few pages scrunched up against the leg of a large oak-wood desk.

The hardcover front read, ‘Cancer Causes and Controversies: Understanding Risk Reduction and Prevention by BERNARD KWABI-ADDO and TIA LAURA LINDSTROM’.

“Are you out of your mind?” Stella stared opened mouthed at her younger brother. Then knelt down to pick up the book, stroking its pages back into place.

Tom stood there in the frame of the door- an ominous apparition  staring back at her. She was only twenty-one and already four years into medical school heading for an honours degree grade A.

He had only just joined college, thinking it would take his mind off those haunting recurring dreams. But they came back, again and again.

“I know you have that one photograph of her, dad told me. The only proof our mother ever existed,” said Tom, his tone losing its aggressiveness. His eyes went back to the bookshelves. He knew he would find what he was looking for between one of those cherished pages.

“Why did you hide her from me Stella? How could you keep her all for yourself?”

Stella shook her head. Her eyes dropped to the book she was holding, and she fell on her knees letting the book slip to the floor again.

“It’s too late Tom,” she sobbed, “Doctor Hicks showed me your results.”
She buried her face in her hands, then whispered from the cover of her refuge, ”you…you have Leukaemia… like she did.”

Then she broke down into sobs, her frail shoulders shaking. Her tears dropped on the pages blotting out some of the words that revealed the harsh reality of her brother’s disease.

Tom’s eyes opened wide.”But you told me our mother abandoned us when I was born.”

She shook her head again. “No,that was my mother. Yours died of Leukemia.”

Tom’s head started spinning, he felt bile rise in his throat. What was his sister talking about?

“Just show me the photograph, show me what my mother looked like before I die.”

Stella stood up her eyes ablaze with fire. “What are you talking about Tom? Didn’t you hear me? You’re going to die!”

She threw herself at her brother’s chest and started hitting out at him with her fists.

“You stupid egoist,”she sobbed, tears spilling once more, “can’t you think of your sister for once? You have to live, you can’t leave me. I need you.”

Tom held his sister’s shoulders firmly trying to calm her. His eyes were bleak and his gaze distant, looking beyond her towards the shelves. In a way, death was relief to him. He needed to get away from those nightmares even though he loved his sister. No, his half-sister, he thought, a knot forming in his throat.

She had always looked after him like a mother, and he had let her do so, she had the right to some support. But he needed to know the truth now.

Stella pressed her face against his chest. She hugged her brother of nineteen years.

“l told Hicks we’ll proceeded with the marrow transplant this afternoon. His team is one of the best. I can save you.”

“No, not this time Stella. You’ve always saved me, but not this time,” said Tom, his voice monotone.

Stella pushed away from him. She was trembling. “It’s our only chance don’t you understand? My bone marrow can save you from sure death.”

Tom shook his head and looked into his sister’s eyes. “Maybe, for the time being… Besides we’re not real kin are we? Now I know. Who knows if it’ll work anyway. You’ve helped me too many times already. It’s my turn to do something for you sister. It’s too risky you know it and so do I.”

Stella’s desperation increased, “But it’s the only way!”

Tom’s eyes looked past Stella again scanning the books, and he whispered, “Show me my mother Stella, that’s all I want. Show me her face, then let me go and join her.”

©2016 Sonia Ferrigno