A little while later she heard the door to her room open again. She strained to hear who had come in, but the carpeted floor muffled the footsteps.
She knew the voice well. But she had never heard it so gentle before.
“I brought you flowers. They’re lilies, your favourite.”
She heard her brother cross the room, moving towards her. His voice became lighter as he began to talk again. The tone of his voice showed that he thought that she could hear him. He was trying to make her feel better.
“Well, I’d put them here, but it seems that everyone else thought that they would put their flowers there to.” She guessed that he was talking about the area above her head where, she presumed, there must have been a ridge which could just about fit some vases on.
“How about here?” He moved away from the edge of the bed and headed towards her feet. “Yes, I’ll put them here. That way, when you wake up, they’ll be the first things you see.”
Tara felt confused. Her suicide attempt must have really shocked her brother for him to be being so nice to her. She felt warm inside as she realised that all along, deep down, he must have cared about her.
“What’s this? You’ve been cooped up in the dark all day!” She heard the curtains being pushed back along the metal railing. “That’s better. Look what you’ve been missing out on. The suns out, the skies clear and the flowers are just starting to bloom.” Tara thought back to last spring. Although it had rained the majority of the time, she could clearly remember walking across the hill at the end of her lane. The birds had been flitting from tree to tree. There were flowers in all different colours and the buds on the trees had opened. How could she be missing out on something so beautiful?
Leo sat down on the bedside chair. “You will never guess how many people have come to the door with flowers and cards and chocolate, which I may have eaten a few of. And there have been so many boys. Of course, I had to man up and face them and tell them, do you know who I am? I Tara’s big brother. And they would just stand there and stare at me and say, so? And I’d be like, yeah, I can’t stand up to you, so I’d take the cards and flowers and close the door on them.” There was a slight pause and Tara could hear Leo rummaging through a bag. “Ah. I appear to have left the cards at home. I’m so sorry Tara. I’ll bring them in the next time I visit. I promise.”
There was a silence for a long time. Tara wanted to know so much what he was doing. Was he looking at her or out the window? Was he crying or just lost in his own thoughts. He reached out and took her hand. “Tara? Everything’s going to be fine. Isn’t it?” He must have wiped his eyes with his hand because Tara could feel that it was cold and wet. She wanted to cry back with him, to hug him. But just as before, nothing she tried would convince her body to move.
The time seemed to ebb away as she lay there. Never once did Leo release his hand. The pressure was constantly there. When, finally, Tara began to drift off into sleep, Leo spoke again. “Promise me everything will be fine.” Again there was silence. Tara wanted to answer, but her mouth wouldn’t move and her voice would come.