A Flute Player's Story

Waking Up and Going Home

"I love you." I closed my eyes and everything stopped hurting. Feeling sunshine on my face, I turned my face upwards and smiled. A slight breeze blew threw my hair and I sighed. I lifted my arms and turned in a circle.

"May I join you?" The sound of my grandmama's voice startled me. I opened my eyes and looked at her, confused.

"Grandmama, what are you doing here?" My mama's mama smiled at me. "I thought you…I thought you had left us."

"You mean you thought I died." She laughed, eyes crinkling at the corners just like my mama's. "Yes, dear, I did."

"Am I dead?" I wondered out loud.

"I don't know dear. But while you think about it, why don't we sit down and have a chat." She sat down on a bench and patted the spot next to her. "Now, what is this I hear about a boy named Racetrack?"

I sat down and started talking. "Well, his name is Antonio and he is a wonderful boy. He is very sweet to me and makes me feel like I am a princess."

"It sounds like you are in love. I think you should return to him. I bet at this moment, he is sitting somewhere crying his poor, broken heart out. Your brother will be missing you too."

"Na-Na. Please come back to me." I could hear Castel's voice coming from a distance.

"That would be him," Grandmama told me. "Go back to them. You will see me again one day."

I was sad to leave Grandmama, but I knew she was right. I waved at her and headed back towards my brother's voice. He sounded as if he was crying.

"Na-Na, you can't leave. You can't. Please come back."

I opened my eyes. Castel was resting his head on the bed, his shoulders shaking. Papa was sitting on my other side, silent tears rolling down his face. I could see Mama at the foot of my bed. She was crying as well, but I could tell she was trying to be brave for everyone else. I turned my head to Castel, moving my hand to cover his. He looked up, hope in his eyes.

"Na-Na! You…you're…you're awake! You came back to us! You're really awake!" He jumped up and reached down to give me a hug. Mama and Papa moved next to each other and hugged, kissing on the lips. Castel started making his crying noises that had earned him his nickname of Rooster. The noise brought a crowd of people into the room; doctors and nurses gathered around my bed. They started doing tests on me, speaking in rapid English the whole time. I didn't care what they were saying though; I was just glad to be with my family.

I spent the next few days mostly sleeping. When I woke up five days later, I saw Racetrack at my side. He was with Maggie and all her siblings, including her brother Tajo. Ariana and Caelyn immediately jumped on the bed to hug me. Pain shot through my left side, but I ignored it as I gave them hugs and kisses. The twins, who usually thought they were too grown up for hugs and kisses, allowed me to hug them. Maggie and Tajo waited until the younger ones had gone to run outside before giving me hugs and telling me they were glad I was feeling better. Before long, I was alone with Racetrack. He bent down and gave me a long, gentle kiss on my lips.

"Bentornato," he whispered when he pulled back. "Mi sei mancato così tanto."

"Yo también te extrañé," I whispered, my voice still hoarse. "I'm glad to be back."

"You've missed so much." He told me about all the things that had happened since I had left in November. I listened in silence, just happy to be home with the people I loved.

"…but they worked things out. Maggie really missed you. She said Medda said your spot in the band is still open if you want it." I was in Ally's hospital room, telling her what she had missed after she left. Ally was sitting up in her bed, her leg resting on a pile of pillows. "But you have to hurry up and get better. And Maggie's sisters want you to come back soon and sing them to sleep. They won't stop asking about you."

"They…came to see…me…yesterday." Ally coughed hard and long. It was so long I started to worry and wondered if I should ring for a nurse. I was just about to call one when Ally reached for a glass of water and took a long drink. "Lo siento," she told me in a whisper when she had stopped coughing. She gave me a weak smile. "I'm not fully recovered."

"Get some rest," I told her, standing up. "I will come back tomorrow."

"No!" She grabbed my hand and pulled on my arm. "Please stay. I…I'm afraid to sleep."

"Why are you scared? What's so scary about going to sleep?"

"I'm afraid…that if I do…I won't wake again." Ally looked so terrified that I sat back down. "I…I almost died…and I'm afraid…I don't want to die!" She choked back a sob and I stroked her hair.

"You're not going to die," I whispered in her ear. "I won't let you die. Besides, I know you. You're too tough and strong to die."

"Please stay," she begged me. "Please don't leave. I don't want to be alone when I go to sleep."

"I won't leave," I promised her, kissing her forehead. She smiled, her eyes slowly closing and her breathing slowing down. "I'll be by your side always."

I entered Allegra's hospital room to see Racetrack and Rooster sitting on either side of Ally's bed talking to each other. Both of them were holding one of her hands. I knocked lightly on the door and they looked up.

"Spot," greeted Rooster. "Come in. Mi hermana is sleeping right now, but have a seat."

Since there was only two chairs in the room, Race sat on the bed next to the sleeping Allegra. Rooster moved to the end of the bed and I took the chair Race had been sitting on.

"How is she?" I asked once everyone was settled. "Is she better?"

"She had the measles-" Rooster started.

"Yes, Ise know dat," I interrupted. "Ise want ta know if she's better."

"Let da boy finish," Race scolded me.

"She had the measles and it let to a bad case of bronchitis," Rooster finished, giving me a dirty look. "There were several complications because she was outside for so long without protection. But yes, she is better."

"Wat about her arm? Will dat get better?" Race wondered.

Rooster looked slightly concerned as he spoke. "She'll have a slight limp when she walks but her leg will be okay. The doctors think her arm will heal, but they still are not sure if it will be the same."

"Ise hope she can still play da flute," I said."It should heal well enough for her to play her flute," Rooster said, although he looked doubtful. I patted his shoulder but didn't say anything. We sat in silence until Allegra woke up.

I went to visit Ally again at the end of the next week. When I got to her room, she was sitting on the edge of her bed and wearing a cheerful smile.

"Antonio!" she greeted me, lifting her good arm for a hug. I gave her one, kissing her as I did. "Guess what?"

"Ariana told you you can't have me because she's going to marry me?" I guessed. Ally giggled and shook her head. "One of the twins wants to marry you?"

"No, you goose!" Ally giggled. "I'm going home! The doctors said I'm able to go home!"

"Ally, that's good news!" I picked her up and swung her around. She laughed, hopping a bit on her right foot when I set her down. "Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot-"

"Do not be sorry," she told me. "My foot is much better now. Castel and Papa both think my arm will be better soon and that I can play my flute at Medda's again."

"Lenmana?" Rooster stuck his head in the door. "Oh, hello Racetrack. Are you here to help mi hermana?"

I nodded my head and smiled at Ally. Putting my arm around her shoulders, I helped her walk out of the hospital. When she was settled in the carriage waiting, I stood back and waved. "I will come visit you tomorrow," I told her.

"No no no, that won't do," her father said, coming around the side and standing next to me. "You must come home with us now. My wife is cooking a welcome home dinner for my favorite daughter. Her boyfriend must be there to celebrate with us." He smiled at me and pushed me towards the carriage. Stumbling a bit, I caught myself and climbed up next to Ally. She immediately moved to my side and snuggled close to me. I gathered her in my arms and kissed the top of her head, happy that I could be with my girlfriend and not have to worry about her running away.

Bentornato. Mi sei mancato così tanto-Welcome back. I missed you so much

Yo también te extrañé-I missed you too

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