There is a knock on my door and I groan.
''How are you feeling, kiddo?''
Uncle Thomas lays his hand on my forehead.
''You are still running a fever.''
Again I groan and start feeling nauseous again. I push the hand of uncle Thomas away and I reach for the bucket. My uncle helps me with preventing my hair from falling into the bucket and he gently strokes my back.
There is another knock on the door and my aunt comes in.
''How is our patient doing?''
''Like I'm ready to die!'' It's all I can get out, before I start to throw up again.''
''Ow dear,'' aunt Laurel says. ''I'm going start to shower for you, Samantha. Then I will change your bed sheets and bring you some of my special soup. I guarantee that you will feel better tomorrow!''
My aunt leaves and I hear water running. I glare at my uncle, who is still trying to keep my hair clean.
''Will her soup kill me?''
Uncle Thomas smiles and he pushes the bucket away.
''You are safe. It's her grandmother's recipe, so she follows every step very strictly.''
''That's what she said when she made that stew and you all got sick for like three days!''
''Have a little faith, young lady. The soup will not kill you, I promise. Now, let's get you out of bed and into the bathroom.''
''Can't you just hose me down and let me be?'' I ask while I try to get up. My legs feel wobbly and I need tho grab uncle Thomas arm to steady myself.
''Don't say that so loud, because you know Tyler will do that and you hate cold showers.''
I grumble something under my breath and try to open my drawer. Of course it's completely stuck and I don't have the strength to slam it open. I just grab my toiletry bag and I drag myself to the bathroom.
I look like a ghost and like Medusa. My hair is all over the place and it looks gross. I definitely need a shower, the smell of the shirt that I'm wearing confirms it. I take everything off and I step into the bathtub. I usually love taking a hot shower, but now it feels like a punishment.
At first the water feels to cold and then it is to hot. Putting in the shampoo feels like a complete workout and it's all becoming to much for me. I'm exhausted, my legs are shaking, so I just sit down and curl up into a little ball.
''Sammy, are you okay?'' I hear Emma ask.
''I'm fine, lovey. I'm just really tired, that's all.''
The door opens and Emma looks at me with big concerned eyes.
''You still smell weird an you have shampoo in your hair.''
''I know,'' I grumble.
''Then I will help you!''
I don't even get the chance to respond. Emma already grabbed the shower gel and she splashes it over me. She grabs something else and I feel something gliding down my head. I realise that Emma put in even more shampoo in my hair and her tiny hands start to massage my head. It's feels so nice!''
''I like this colour,'' Emma mumbles. '' You look like me!''
I smile, but soon my smile fades. Emma was so gentle with my hair, but not so much with my skin. She is so rough with the sponge, that it feels that she is washing my skin with sandpaper!
''This is just adorable!'' I hear my aunt say and I give up. I don't care anymore that I'm naked and that more people are getting into the bathroom.
'Please come in and aunt Laurel, can you tell uncle Thomas that I changed my mind? The hose doesn't sound like a bad idea anymore and it's probably feels less cruel then this!''
''Emma, you have to be gentle with your sister.''
''I am! I'm getting that awful smell of her and I got the vomit out of her hair!''
''That's very good, but you don't have to remove her skin while you do that, love.''
Aunt Laurel takes the sponge away from Emma and she reaches for the shower head. She rinses the rest of the shampoo out of my hair, before she puts the conditioner in.
''Emma, can you please grab a shirt from Tyler for you sister and bring it here?''
I sight in relief when Emma leaves the bathroom and I look at my aunt.
''For what, dear?''
''For everything. For taking us in, for helping me with Emma, for dealing with my outbursts and for all of this now.''
''We love you both very much, Samantha. There isn't anything that we wouldn't do for the two of you. I know that things were difficult for you growing up and that you had to look out not only for yourself, but also for Emma. That's why you are so protective of Emma. You don't want what happened to you happen to her.''
I shrug my shoulders, but then I remember my homework. I have to at least try.
''It was always just the two of us. Mom never seemed to have any interest in her and neither did her dad. He left mom when she told him that she was pregnant. After that it was like mom waited until she could give birth, before returning to her old habits. Drinking and staying away for days, looking for her next soulmate.''
The door opens before my aunt can respond and Emma holds a shirt in her hand.
''Tyler said he is buying you a new wardrobe, because he is missing his shirts!''
''I will hold him to that,'' I say while my aunt turns off the water and hands me a towel. While I wrap myself in the towel, my aunts starts to dry my hair with a smaller towel. She does it so gently and I feel my lip starts to tremble.
I can't remember if my mother ever did this. Maybe when I was really little, but I doubt it.
''Emma, you will be sleeping in Mia's room tonight. Your sister is sick and she needs her rest. So get everything you need for tonight and put in Mia's room.''
Emma nods and she looks at me. ''Please feel better soon, Sammy. I don't like it when you feel sick, but at least you smell like coconut now!''
''Thank you, lovey.''
Emma leaves the bathroom and I stand up. Aunt Laurel helps me to get out of the bathtub.
''You never opened up like that to me before. I'm glad you did, although it must been hard for you,'' aunt Laurel says in a soft tone.
I smile as I put on Tyler's shirt. ''I'm trying, aunt Laurel. Talking about my mom or about my life is difficult for me. Not many happy memories and that's why I don't talk about it in general. Although that doesn't help me either.''
''Why do you say that, dear?''
''Because I thought that if I left my past behind, I finally could just be me. I thought that all my troubles would magically disappear, but they didn't. Then I lost my temper with uncle Thomas in a and still he keeps my hair out of my face, while I throw up!''
''He loves you, dear. It's that simple and it helps that Thomas can take a hit or two. He was actually impressed with your right hook!''
I chuckle and then I push my aunt out of the way. I just make it in time for the toilet and this time aunt Laurel holds up my hair.
Apparently trying to open up to people makes me throwing up sick. But at least I tried and that was something.
Baby steps, Samantha. Baby steps.
''Is it safe?'' I hear a familiar voice say.
''Enter at your own risk.'' I tease.
Alexander enters the room and he smiles at me.
''Getting there.'' I responded
''Good, I have something for you.''
Alexander holds up a bag and he gives it to me.
''The ultimate horror collection?''
I look confused at Alexander and he grins.
''When you are sick, you get to watch a lot of series or movies. That's why I got you this. To kill time and because I know you love these kind of movies.''
I feel suddenly shy. My hair is a mess of wild curls and I'm wearing the hoodie Tyler stole from me with some old sport shorts. I'm the picture of elegance, not!
''Thank you for this,'' I mutter. Alexander chuckles and he let's his gaze wonder around the room. He has never been in my room before, I realise. We always stayed downstairs or hung out in Tyler's room.
I only have two pictures, so there is not much to look at. A black and white photograph of me holding Emma as a baby. The other one is a picture of me and Emma just smiling. It was taken right after I went to the hairdresser and changed my hair colour.
Emma got so excited when she saw me. According to her we finally looked like real sisters. So we took a picture to celebrate that moment and our new beginning.
''Friends take care of each other and do things for each other, right?''
''I'm not watching does movies with you!''
I pout and I throw a pillow at him, but then my stomach starts to grumble.
''I will make you a deal,'' Alexander says. ''I will get you something to eat and I will watch a movie with you, but only if it's not a scary one! Deal?''
For a moment I think about others things that we could be doing and it's like Alexander knows what I'm thinking. We stare at each other and then I remember Millie's words. Looking at someone like dinner suddenly makes sense. I want Alexander and I can tell by his look that the feeling is mutual.
Think, Samantha. Don't throw yourself into something that you are not ready for. Baby steps.
''Is it a deal, Jones?''
''Yes, it's a deal.''