The sound of an alarm cut through the night. Emily jerked awake. Bethany must have rolled on one of her dialysis tubes again. One would think a body would get used to the alarm after hearing it nearly every night for three months.
Emily tiptoed past her five-year-old sister’s bed. Karlie, at least, had been blessed with the ability to sleep through the noise.
Moonlight drifted through the hall skylight, faintly lighting Bethany’s room across the hall. Emily paused in the doorway, watching her mom. She was worrying again. Emily could tell from the way she watched Bethany, from the way her hands fluttered as she checked the dialysis tubes. The sound stopped.
Sugar water drained slowly from the bag on the machine, emptying into Bethany’s abdominal cavity through a tube. Her blood had learned to dispose of its impurities into the solution, since her kidneys were no longer cleaning it.
Bethany had already fallen back asleep, and the rasp of her troubled breathing was the only sound. Mom worried most of the time now, though Emily knew her little sister was trying hard to act normal.
But Bethany couldn’t hide the fact that she was rapidly weakening, and normal was only a wishful thought. After all, it wasn’t normal to sleep with dialysis tubes sticking out. It wasn’t normal to have skin turn yellow from toxins, or a face bloated from medications. Emily pushed a strand of sweaty hair from her face. Normal certainly wasn’t having a little sister who was dying. Her other friends had grandparents die, or sometimes even an aunt or uncle. No one’s little sister dies.