Brain capacity at 5%
Ivory Favaro tapped the LCD screen repeatedly, trying to get the little bird thing to cross the road when it was safe. She cursed herself as an unexpected lorry came and hit the bird again. She looked up at the rest of her family. Alex was reading a book, but he hadn't turned the page for about 30 minutes. Her mother was tracing circles on her jeans while sniffing occasionally. Her father was flicking through a newspaper, but by the jerky motions of his eyes, she could tell that he wasn't really reading it. Auntie Jane had come to the hospital after mother had called her with the news. Her husband, Charles, had taken their three children, Harmony, Melody and Sonnet, to the hospital park. Jane had some headphones over her ears, but was staring into the distance, without showing any signs that there was actually music going into her ears.
A doctor came out of Ebony's room.
"Hello. My name is Emily Saunter, I am the head doctor for Ebony's care." She paused. "I would like to discuss Ebony's care with you. Please follow me to a meeting room."
She turned off down the corridor and we all followed in a frantic manner, glad to be receiving some sort of news about Ebony.
"Okay," the doctor said, once we had all sat round the table in the meeting room. "Ebony has suffered severe brain damage from the car incident. Because of this, her brain is... rebelling, I suppose. The average brain capacity, that is, the amount of brain that we use, for a human is 10%. Now, Ebony's brain capacity, we estimate to be around 5%. I know the nurse told you earlier that if it drops below 5%, she will slip into a coma and may pass away. We currently have the issue that she is already in a coma. She slipped out of it about an hour ago and we haven't been able to bring her back. I'm sorry, we've tried all that we can, but we don't know what to do now."
The room was silent for a moment.
"Are you sure?" my mother said, desperation in her voice.
"We are sure. I would not say it if it were not true."
"What have you tried? What tests have you done?" Jane asked, as mother had bent her head forward and father was staring at the table, unsure of what to say.
"We have given her numerous neurological tests and tried countless medicines and remedies on her. Nothing has proven to be effective yet, but we are trying our best."
There was suddenly a knock at the door and everyone in the room jumped.
"Enter." Doctor Saunter directed at the door.
It opened to reveal a young male doctor with a flop of black hair. He was carrying a clip board and had a name tag pinned to his shirt that read 'James'. Ivory smiled to herself. Ebony would have found him attractive.
"Doctor Saunter. Apologies for the interruption."
Emily waved her hand in dismissal, "what is it?"
"We need you to come to Ebony's room."
"Why? What's wrong?" Mother sat bolt upright in her seat, staring at James with hawk-like eyes.
James and Emily shared a glance before Emily said: "we'll let you know. But, please, excuse me."
Emily followed James out the room, taking her clip board with her.
The rest of the Favaro family trailed after them, desperately praying for good news.
One hour, 32 minutes later, Emily finally came out of Ebony's room. She had a grim expression, and a crew of four nurses also followed her out. James the attractive doctor was no where to be seen.
"I'm so sorry, there is nothing we can do. Her neural functioning has decreased again. There is no hope that she is going to come out of this. I suggest that you say your goodbyes and switch off her life support." Emily lowered her head in sadness, or respect, Ivory couldn't tell which.
"Won't she continue breathing?" Alex said, his voice breaking.
"No, she most likely won't." She glanced at the door to Ebony's room. "I'm sorry." She added before turning away down the corridor.
Ivory looked at the doctor leaving, before looking at the door. Everyone was still. No one wanted to open the door because that would mean admitting defeat and saying goodbye to a beautiful member of their family.
Ivory, sick of the silence, reached out and pushed the door open. Ebony was laid on the bed, still and silent. A heart monitor showed that she was still breathing, but a brain activity monitor showed minimal colour (the more colour on the image, the higher the brain activity). James the attractive doctor was still stood by Ebony's bedside. He looked up when Ivory walked in.
"Sorry." He mumbled and left quietly, glancing back at Ebony's still body before shutting the door behind mother and father, who had also squashed into the small room.
"I don't need any private time." Ivory said, stroking her sister's cold hand.
"I do. Can everyone leave for a moment?" Alex said, blinking back tears.
Ivory, Jane, mother and father left Alex and Ebony alone for a moment by stepping outside the room.
As soon as Alex was done being alone, he asked Jane to come in with him. Auntie Jane went inside, before hanging up the phone. She had rung her husband to give him the news and he was going to come up with the children.
Just a minute after Jane had gone in, Charles and the children appeared at the end of the corridor.
"Is Jane in there?" he asked upon his approach.
"Yes." Ivory replied. "You go in and I'll watch the children."
Charles nodded and disappeared inside room number 64. Ivory turned to the children and asked them to sit down on the bench by the vending machine, just up from where everyone else was waiting outside the room.
"Ivory?" a little voice called to her as she turned away.
"Yes, Melody?" she turned back to look at the six year-old.
"Is Ebony going to heaven?"
Ivory sat down, biting her lip, unsure of how to answer Melody's question. "I don't know."
"She's dying isn't she?" Sonnet said.
"Can't they save her?" it was Harmony who spoke this time.
"I don't think so." Ivory looked down at her feet, tired of answering their questions. Melody and Harmony were twins, aged six; but Sonnet was their older sister, aged eight.
"How old is she?" Melody asked, referencing Ebony.
"That's not very old to die is it?" Harmony stated.
"No, it's not."
At that moment, Alex came out of Ebony's room, glanced at Ivory sat with the three girls, before taking off down the corridor. Ivory looked after him before glancing at Jane and Charles with a panicked look.
"It's okay, he just got a bit upset." Jane told Ivory. "Charles, go after him will you?"
Ivory stood up to make her way over to the door, and Jane took her place in between Harmony and Sonnet. Melody was sat on the other side of Harmony.
"Would you like some alone time?" mother asked as Ivory approached them.
She shook her head. "I just want to see her one last time." Her voice cracked and a tear leaked out from her blue eyes.
Father nodded and opened the door to allow Ivory in. Mother followed and immediately rushed to the bedside. She knelt down on the floor and kissed Ebony's hand. Ivory went round the other side to stare at her sister's face, taking in as much of it as possible. Father perched by Ebony's feet, placed his hand on her leg and bowed his head, trying not to show his tears.
After a moment of silent appreciation of Ebony's life, father spoke up.
"Shall we do it?"
Ivory let out a sound like a wounded animal. "I don't want to."
"Would you like to leave?" father asked in concern.
She shook her head. Part of her wanted to leave and run off down into the distance, like Alex did. But more of her wanted to stay and be with Ebony until her last moments. After all, she is the one person who has been there since the two of them were first fertilized in their mother's womb over seventeen years ago (actually, based on pregnancy, it was more like eighteen years ago).
"She c-can't go yet. I d-don't want her t-to. She's not even an adult yet." Mother stuttered, tears and grief already slurring her words.
But we all knew that we had to let her go. There is a word for someone who loses a partner. There is a word for someone who loses their parents. But there is no word for someone who loses a sibling. No word for someone who loses a child. If you had a twin, but you lost them, would you still be a twin? even though the other half is gone? Ivory's parents will always be parents. Even if Alex and Ivory die before they do, they will always be parents, because once a parent, always a parent. But, after this, does Ivory still say that she is a twin, even if she isn't any more?
Father reached down to the socket that was supplying the power to the life support. No one knew whether she would die straight away or whether she needed to have a lethal injection. Ivory noticed that a syringe of black liquid was laid on the filing cabinet near the end of the bed. She guessed that it contained a small amount of deadly toxin that would send Ebony to the afterlife if she didn't go by herself.
The click of the switch seemed to echo through the room. There was a moment of hope when the heart monitor continued to let out regular bleeps of sound. Until they slowed for a moment, then sped up as Ebony's body appeared to be fighting for survival. The bleeping began to slow down again. The flat lining sound of loss echoed round the room before mother burst into a scream of grief.