The next time I woke, the sun was oozing in beneath the curtains. It dragged its light towards the bed just as a buzzing alarm blared to life. Slapping a hand out, I shut it off and flipped onto my back gazing up at the ceiling. It was oddly splattered with white paint, some parts lacking so the concrete was visible beneath it.
"I can't re-," I groaned, straining my hand towards a particular part of the ceiling that was avoiding the paint. Leaning my body towards it, I gripped the top of the ladder hard.
"Hey I got som- what the hell are you doing?!"
There was a clattering motion beneath me and I glanced down to see a flurry of movements before she was holding the ladder steady. A pair of obsidian eyes glowered up at me from a mop of coal coloured ringlets. Whenever I complained about my hair, she would always scoff and shake her head at me, sending the tightly swirled curls bouncing.
"I told you I would do this! Seriously Lyss, are you trying to kill yourself?" She barked, waving a hand at me to get down. White paint littered her clothes and one splotch on her cheek was a sharp contrast to her onyx-like skin.
"I'm fine, Clari," I huffed but gave in to her silent demands. Scuttling down the ladder was more of an issue than I'd planned. I'd to lean back slightly to avoid banging my protruding stomach against it.
"Honestly woman." She snatched the paintbrush from my grasp and nudged me towards the only chair in the room. "Sit and rest, you're pregnant. Almost due. Don't do stupid things like that."
"I told you, I'm f-." The words cut off in a gasp as I bent to sit down. I couldn't describe the pain that bloomed in my stomach. Hunching over, my eyes squeezed shut and I gritted my teeth against it. What was happening?
"Labour, you idiot," I muttered to myself, pursing my lips at the memory. I'd told myself I would finish the ceiling after the boys were born, but yet I've never gotten around to it.
Pulling myself from the bed, I glanced at the calendar by my desk. A bright red circle highlighted today's date. March 22nd. Their names were scrawled onto the date, not that I needed the reminder at all.
Smiling to myself, my finger traced their names before I turned away and went to the bathroom. Pausing in the hallway, I listened for any signs of movement in their room but it was oddly still. They must be wrecked after being up so early.
Shutting the bathroom door behind me, I went about my business before standing before the mirror as I brushed my teeth. There was so much that needed to be done today. So many preparations; decorations, food, presents, costumes and the lot. It wasn't every day your children turned five and I wanted it to be memorable.
After spitting in the sink and rinsing it down the drain, I switched on the shower and stripped off. Before stepping in, I glanced in the mirror and found my fingers tracing over the light stretch marks that decorated my hips. At first, I'd hated them and detested seeing them but as the years went on I found myself not minding them. They were the result of having my sons.
Who knew a one-night stand could cause so much to happen?
The water pattered against my skin as I stepped into the shower. Its warmth slid along my body. Shutting my eyes, I relaxed into its heat. Not everything that resulted from that night was good though.
"Please don't yell."
"Pregnant? Pregnant! Alyssa, you are seventeen! You can't be!"
"I'm sorry, really I am! I didn't mean to! Please don't be mad."
"Gerard, no! Don't, she can get an abortion. No one will have to know."
"Get. Out. Of. My. House."
My forehead thumped against the wall as their voices rang in my ears. That was not the last I saw of them. Though the rarely visited. My parents never agreed with my decision to keep them. Especially without a father. We visited every now and then, though two or three times a year when your family lived less than twenty minutes away said a lot about your relationship. It probably didn't help that I sent them weekly emails and photos of my boys. Nothing would change though, I knew that; they were set in their ways but it broke me knowing my sons may never truly know their grandparents.
Or even their father.
Sighing heavily, I scrubbed my eyes before proceeding to wash my body. Today is a happy day Alyssa, don't dwell on the negatives.
Wrapping a towel around myself as I turned off the shower, I padded over towards the boy's room and opened the door a little. Peeking in, I listened to their breaths and nodded. A little longer, I'll let them rest.
Returning to my room, I quickly dried off and dressed in a pair of ripped - not fashionably ripped but from crawling on the floor after two boys – jeans with a plain white top. I was in the process of scouring the wardrobe for the presents I'd hidden from the boys when there was a loud thump in the other room.
Freezing for a split moment, I stared out to the hallway before my body moved and I was rushing down the hall. The presents clanged to the floor behind me, forgotten. Thrusting their door open, I flicked on the lights.
Sprawled on the floor, he was face down. Skidding to my knees next to him, I gently turned him over. His chest was rising and falling rapidly, his breath catching in his throat at times. My hands trembled as I gently pressed his checks. The heat that radiated off of them almost burnt my hand and I jerked it back.
"Damon, wake up," I called, glancing briefly to his bed. My eyes barely swept over him before falling back to Ryan. What was happening to my son? His eyelids were trembling as if his eyes were desperately searching for something behind the closed lids.
"Da-," I called again only to be silenced by a wet cough from the bed. No. Jumping up, I pulled the blanket from his bed. It was sticky from the sweat that glistened on his body in the light. "Damon? Baby boy, what's wrong?"
Like his brother, he wasn't waking. Heat bubbled off of him in waves. I stood there, between the two, helpless and utterly lost. What was happening to them? Why were they like this? Tears pricked at my eyes as my hands clenched in my hair. What do I do? How do I help them?
I gasped, stuttering in a breath as my arms trembled. My chest hollowed out, strength seeping from my body to the cold room as it threatened to swallow me. They'd never been like this before. Why now? What's happening?
"Ryan, sweetie," I whispered kneeling as I scooped the young boy into my arms. It itched where my skin touched his. The sweat that dribbled off him stung when it raced onto me. I laid him on his bed, making sure there were no blankets on him before dashing into the bathroom.
There, I grabbed two face cloths and drenched them in cold water. Swiping my hands over my eyes, I tried to rid myself of my tears. I couldn't freak out now, they needed me. Wringing the excess water from the cloth's, I folded them up and hurried back to the boys.
I could have sworn the cloth's sizzled when they touched the boy's skin. Gnawing on my lower lip, I found myself doing the only thing I could think of. I called my mother.
Standing there, I fidgeted from foot to foot after finding my phone in my pocket. Even after all this time, she was still number one on my speed dial. The phone continued to ring and I groaned, "Pick up, pick up please Mom please."
I'd never heard the click that alerted you to someone answering and I paused. Her voice was the same; soft and soothing. Like a mother's. I swallowed, fresh tears pooling in my eyes as my legs gave way and I crumbled to my knees with a soft thud.
"Hello? Alyssa? What is it?"
"M-Mom," I croaked out, my voice catching in my throat. I gulped, my palm denting into my skin as I pressed it against my chest.
"What's wrong? Speak to me," She urged. Her voice seemed to rise, the way it had done when I had broken my arm at fifteen and I had to tell her about it from the hospital.
"I..I don't know what's wrong. They were fine earlier but now, now they're-," I couldn't finish. My blurry eyes swivelled from Ryan to Damon uneasily.
"They? Who? Lyss, calm down."
"I can't, I can't. Something's happened. They won't wake up-."
"My sons!" I screamed as my forehead kissed the side of Damon's bed. My free hand reached out and gently grasped his leg. Even through his pyjama pants, I could feel the heat from his skin.
She was silent on the other end of the line. There was a sharp inhale of breath before I heard her exhale slowly. "Ok Alyssa. Listen to me, you need to bring them to the hospital. Take them there immediately."
"What's wrong with them?" I cried, sniffling as my tears stained the bed.
"I don't know," She admitted. There was a rustling noise coming through the phone as she continued, "Your father and I will meet you there. Go now."
Without another word, she hung up on me and I was left kneeling by my son's bed. Trembling, I rubbed the tears from my eyes and stood. My feet swayed beneath me before I shook my head and moved from the room. Keys first.
Snatching them and my bag from the counter in the kitchen, I opened the front door and moved back. Gently scooping Damon into my arms, I scurried out the front door and down the steps.
"You'll be ok, sweetie," I whispered as I pressed his face close to my neck, ignoring the heat. "Mommy has you, it'll be ok."
When the car was unlocked, I manoeuvred him into his car seat and belted him in before shutting the door and locking it as I raced back inside to get Ryan. As I was carrying him out the front door, I paused to shut it. Silently thankful for the automatic locking system it had.
With both sons in the car, I jumped into the driver seat and tore out of the driveway towards the hospital. I barely registered what my mother had said to me on the phone. Her words never dawned on me until I was parking outside the hospital doors and running inside.
"Someone help me, please! My sons, I don't know what's wrong with my sons!" My voice echoed down the sterile halls drawing all eyes towards me. Some people just stared while two nurses charged forward.
"Where are they?" one, small and pudgy, order as I gawked at her. Her eyes were a strange blend of blue and brown, I noticed. In my frantic state, I could have sworn they swirled.
"T..The car," I whispered, grasping at her arm. "Please. Please, you have to help them."
She quickly pried away from my hold as she and the other nurse headed to the car. I followed close behind as they opened the doors and reached in. She gasped, her hand falling to her side after she touched Damon's head.
"We need to get them inside and into the isolation unit," She instructed the other nurse as they began taking my boys out of their seats.
"Isolation Unit? Why?" I prodded as she wordlessly walked ahead of me with Damon in her arms. For some reason, my fingers itched to rip him from her hold. "Answer me!"
"They are sick," She bluntly responded as she moved down the halls of the hospital, the other nurse with Ryan in tow.
I trailed after them, eyes sweeping around the corridors as we moved. We went left, then right, up an elevator and then another right. Where was she taking us? As we moved, another nurse joined and the pudgy one barked orders to her.
Finally, we came to a stop outside a large room with a windowless door but two large windows on either side of them. The nurses stormed in, placing my sons on the two beds. There was already a team of people inside and the instant my sons touched the beds, they began connecting them to multiple machines and wires.
People bashed into me as I stood in the centre of the room, tears streaming down my cheeks. Ryan's lips parted in a whimper as a needle was forced into his little arm and blood began to ooze into a tube.
"What are you doing to him?" I demanded, stepping forward to stop her. Yet, hands gripped my arms as I was dragged from the room. "Hey! Let me go! They are my sons!"
The mask covered man deposited me into the hall and without a word, turned and stepped back into the room. I went to follow, yanking on the door to open it. It wouldn't. Locked.
They locked it.
"You can't do this!" I yelled, hitting the door. "They are my sons! They need me! Let me in!" Jumping to the side, I pressed against the window, my vision clouded by wetness as I watched helplessly as they continued to examine my sons.
Someone help me. Save them.