"MOMMY!" Kat yells.
I clamp my pillow over my ears, groaning.
"Sweetie, I can't come up there right now," Mom shouts back.
I roll over and look at my alarm clock. Six thirty in the morning. I'd scream, but I really don't have any energy to spare. Instead I reach for my fluffy slippers and promptly fall out of the bed and onto the cold hardwood floor. Ouch.
"MOMMY I NEED YOU!!" Kat hollers again. I hear Mom sigh as she climbs the stairs.
"I'm coming, Kat," she says.
I pick myself up off of the floor and run through a quick mental checklist; arms: okay, legs: okay, butt: bruised but not broken. I pluck my slippers up off the floor from where they sit, inches away from my feet. With a sigh I pull them on and grab my phone off of my nightstand.
"Kat?" Mom says, wandering through the hallway. "Where are you, honey?"
Kat's voice is a low wail, like an animal in pain. Fear shoots through me, and I rush, fuzzy slippers and all, into the hall.
"Kat??" Mom calls again, sounding worried.
There is no response.
"Katherine!" I shout.
This time a faint whimper answers me. Mom starts down the hallway, headed straight for the bathroom. I'm puzzled. It didn't seem like the sounds were coming from that direction. I follow my mother, stepping aside as she flings open the door. Huddled in a corner my sister sits, pale as a sheet. My mother rushes to her, tears streaming down her face.
"Lissa go get my phone," she tells me urgently.
I leave quickly, shutting the door behind me to close out Kat's frantic noises. Downstairs, I find Mom's phone on the counter and take the steps two at a time up to the second floor of the house. I scramble to open the bathroom door. When I finally manage to open it I find my mother on the floor holding Kat in her arms, both of them seemingly covered in crimson paint. Realization dawns on me, and on its heels is panic. That isn't paint. Suddenly I hear my mother yelling. It occurs to me that I have completely blocked out the noise. I toss the phone to her, and she lifts her hand from Kat's face to catch it. She hurriedly dials 911, putting the phone on speaker so that she can continue stroking Kat's hair, The operator picks up immediately.
"911, what is your emergency?" asks a light female voice.
My mother replies thickly through her tears, trying to give the woman on the phone the information she needs.
"Two paramedics should be arriving very soon, ma'am. Please stay on the phone until they are with your daughter," the operator says smoothly.
Mom shoots me look and anger washes over me. I know exactly what she wants. I fly down the stairs and begin to clean the kitchen. I gather all of the liquor bottles and shove them into the top cabinet, the only one that still locks. I clear cigarettes off of the table and counters. All of a sudden the doorbell is ringing nonstop. I spot a nondescript plastic bag by my mother's keys, and fear grips me. I know what's in that bag, and if they see it everything is over. I run to let the paramedics in, trying to block their view of the kitchen with my body. They brush past me without a second glance, tearing through the house and up the staircase. I assume they have found Kat, because I can hear my mother crying while firm voices urge her to step away. Quietly, I lock the door behind me and bolt to the kitchen. A voice inside my head screams at me to take this opportunity and run. Show the paramedics the weed on the table and the glass bottles littering my mother's room. But I hush it, because I have to take things one day at time, and Kat, annoying as she is, means the world to me. I can't let them take her away for good. As I leave the kitchen I catch a glimpse of the calendar. I see a bright pink mark. Puzzled, I double back to look at it. A hot, prickly feeling settles in my stomach. It says "Lissa, 16!!!!!!" in Kat's flowery writing across the twenty fifth. Today. My sweet sixteen. I can't believe it. Next to the calendar I find an empty pill bottle, which I throw into a box in the corner of the kitchen, covering it with a dirty napkin. Something nags at me as I do so. The voice in my head asks me if I want Kat's Sweet Sixteen to be spent like this. The answer is a cold, hard no. I grimly pick up the cardboard box and retrieve the bag from the table. I hold them far away from my body and start for the stairs. This will be the last day.