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Care the Bear
Rainbow Bridge #5
July 4, 4:20 P.M. EST
Children’s Hospital Pittsburgh
Dandelion Machi had lain alone in this bed all day since the nice little man brought her medicine and lime Jello. Before long the not-so-nice lady, the big one, would be along with her soup. It was always like that, Jello and soup. It was so much nicer back before her parents went over Rainbow Bridge.
Mom and Dad used to argue with the hospital ladies all the time until one of them could be suited up safely and be let in to see her. Since Dandelion had ARDS—the kid’s version she called it—she couldn’t get hugs or kisses or even her hand held, except by a gloved hand. It had been hard for Dandelion to understand that she was so dangerous to adults, and at the same time, that they could make her sick somehow when she was already sick.
“Grownups,” as Uncle Rick had often told her, simply “sucked,” and were impossible to figure out. This was an interesting thing to hear from the most grownup of grownups, for nobody Dandelion had ever met was older than Uncle Rick.
She well remembered Uncle Rick sneaking out of grownup hide-and-go-seek with the police and ARDS-chasers from the government to come take her for secret walks by night, on his big shoulders, where no one could see, not the ARDS-chasers, not nobody! He would tell her about raccoons, possums, rabbits, squirrels, foxes and owls. They would even play soccer in the yard by night, once even made a snowman.
Then she had got the ARDS, which the mean lady said, over, and over again, was short for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Since Mom and Dad had gone over Rainbow Bridge without her she was so sad. The nice little man with the food was not allowed to talk to her and smiled a lot to make up for it. He was a little tan man in a blue uniform. He had tried to speak with her but his English was really hard to understand and then the mean nurse lady, almost the same color as her white uniform, had chased him off. That lady, from behind her hawk-like nose, down which she peered like a monster, kept telling her that the other lady, the one in the suit who looked like a boy, would be back to sign the Rainbow Bridge release and then she could leave and be with Mom and Dad.
With the ARDS she was not allowed to leave except by Rainbow Bridge. This confused her, because the little kids with the nice skin and the dark eyes, who weren’t all pale and freckled and pasty like her—with her sick eyes like a winter sky—they would sneak in for visits and play with her and tell her about the new parents they were getting from the hospital. They had somehow recovered from the ARDS. It seemed that she was especially sick. The little girls felt so bad for her, that they even lied and told her how pretty she was even though she was almost the color of the bed sheets and felt ugly amongst them as they smiled and giggled and brought her their extra chocolate milk.
They seemed genuinely sad about Dandelion not being allowed to leave or have new parents.
“I wonder when you guys will sneak out again and come see me? Or did you get your new parents already?”
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