Home > Damaged The Dillon Sisters

Damaged The Dillon Sisters
Author: Layla Frost

Prologue


Free

Briar

I WAS DYING.

Not metaphorically. Not exaggeratedly. Not dramatically, in my teenage angst of I-can’t-even.

But literally.

Again, not how I would literally die without chocolate. The real literal.

At sixteen years old, I was dying. Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.

A.L.L.

Or, as I called it, all the bullshit.

I could feel it happening. As if my cancer were walking from room to room within my body, flicking the OFF switches to power it down. But it was moving too slow. A meandering stroll, painfully poking and jabbing as it dragged its feet through me.

The absolute worst part—which was saying something because there were a lot of worst parts—was there was no escape from my cancer. I couldn’t zone out on YouTube or escape into a book. I didn’t have the blissful moments where it slipped my mind for the briefest second. Even in sleep, my pain seeped into my dreams, taking away any break I might’ve had.

It was worse in the hospital. I was surrounded by death and pain and sorrow. The sharp antibacterial smells. The nurses. The doctors. The tubes coming out of my body, leading to the annoying beeping machine next to my bed. The ever-present rumble of voices outside my door, and the frequent crying and screaming from the other patients or their loved ones. Even the lack of darkness.

I’d never appreciated total darkness until I was surrounded by the harsh glow of lights that never fucking turned off.

It was like a constant spotlight, shining on my disease. Stealing my peace. Robbing me of any comfort I might have found at the end of my short life.

Closing my eyes, I willed my body to just give up. If I had the energy, I would’ve dragged myself out of the room until I found something to end my pain.

People don’t understand the pain of cancer. Not really. Because cancer was scary and huge, that was what everyone focused on. They didn’t know it wasn’t just the horrendous disease itself. How each new symptom needed a new treatment which led to a new side effect that would need a new treatment. It was a never-ending cycle, and every part of it was awful. The treatment sucked. The side effects of the medication sucked. The wear on my already frayed mental health sucked.

The stuff that was supposed to help me ended up hurting me, and that fucking sucked.

Tears burned behind my closed lids. Not because of the pain or because I felt sorry for myself. They were rage tears directed at the universe and myself.

I should’ve killed myself when I had the chance. When I felt it getting worse. I shouldn’t have been such a coward and a failure. Now I’m stuck in this damn bed.

Powerless.

Useless.

Out of control.

Alone.

But I wasn’t alone. Beyond all the nurses, docs, techs, cleaners, and other pediatric patients, there was my constant companion.

Death.

I knew he wasn’t really there—I might’ve been crazy, but I wasn’t totally bananas. But sometimes in the middle of the night, in the light shining in from the hallway, I could see him. Lurking in the corner.

Haunting me.

Taunting me.

When I was first diagnosed, Death was an invisible specter I was running from. I hadn’t wanted to die. But after aging a hundred years in six months, I was ready for him. Racing toward him. I wanted him to take me and end the pain.

He never did.

I wasn’t sure how long I stayed like that, my eyes closed against the sunlight that streamed onto my face, gloating that it was free while I was trapped. When I eventually dozed off, my dreams were invaded by the sounds I heard outside my door and the pain I felt in my bones.

When someone touched my hand, hope flared in my chest before I was even awake. But when my eyes flew open, it wasn’t Death.

It was an angel with a backlit halo of dark hair.

“Aria?” I croaked, wondering if I was still dreaming. Or maybe it was a fever hallucination. Either of those made more sense than her actually being there.

Thanks to our eight-year age difference—not to mention our everything else difference—my sister and I weren’t exactly close. I meant that literally, too. She’d long ago fled to attend school across the country, which was just another thing I was jealous of.

Rubbing the sleep and bleariness from my eyes, I dropped my hands to see she was actually there. Happiness surged through me.

My big sister obviously didn’t feel the same. Tears filled her eyes before sliding freely down her cheeks.

“I look that good, huh?” I deadpanned. “You don’t have to cry about my beauty. You’ll outgrow your ugly duckling stage eventually, too.”

It was a bad joke for a lot of reasons. The Dillon sisters were blessed with good looks. Mine were stolen like everything else, but Aria was just as gorgeous as I remembered.

More so, actually.

If I’d felt inferior and riddled with sibling rivalry over my beautiful, smart, lithe older sister before, it was times a million now that I was gaunt and pale and sickly.

“You look beautiful,” she said. Funny enough, she likely believed that. She was wrong, but in her mind, it wasn’t a lie. She could find the good in the wickedest of witches.

“It’s my hot new diet.” Feeling much, much older than sixteen, my bones and joints creaked and popped as I struggled to sit up.

“Use the button,” Aria chided, already in doctor mode even though she was still in her doctorate program to become a psychologist. She pressed the button to raise the head of the mattress.

The elevation made my brain feel like a balloon inflating in a too tight space. My head swam and nausea hit. I barely had enough time to turn my face away before I threw up all over myself, the bed, and the floor.

Finally get a visitor, and I almost barf on her.

“Sorry,” I mumbled, choking down more stomach acid at the rancid taste that coated my tongue.

Aria’s voice was surprisingly vehement as she bit out, “Do not apologize.”

I could hear her moving across the room before the sink turned on, but I couldn’t bring myself to move or call out to stop her. Blindly, I reached out and hit the button for the nurse. At least I was hoping I hit the right one.

Aria returned with a damp cloth, wiping it across my face.

I jerked away quickly and, thanks to the sudden movement, I was dangerously close to barfing again or passing out. Either would be better than my sister having to wipe my face like I was a baby. “Fine.” I inhaled slowly. “Paged the nurse.”

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