A New Beginning
I am running away from a fire that is expanding rapidly. My mom is to my left and dad to my right. I am in the middle, shielded by both of them. Suddenly a steel column is flying right towards me. In the moment I am almost petrified so I just stay planted. I feel my mom harshly pushing me out of the the way right before the column strikes her. Her body starts to fall lifelessly to the ground but before she lands, I jerk awake with a short scream. I am back in my desperate reality. That unforgettable memory is still haunting me.
I look at my watch to the left of my bed. It reads 5:00. I don’t have to get up for another hour, but there’s no way I’ll be able to fall back asleep. Nor do I desire to. I get out of bed and lazily stroll to my dresser to get changed. Afterwards I start to fry two eggs because I have time. As I finally drive to work, I get an inexplicable feeling that something major is going to happen today, but I don’t know what. I don’t have any patients until 2 pm today so I have time to get some other work done. I am driving past the emergency room when two doctors come racing out signaling to me to stop.
“Do-doctor Nolan. Th-there’s an emergency patient who needs urgent care!” Says one of them through their breath.
“I’ll be right in,” I say.
I was born in 1970 in the town I still live in, Seattle. My parents gave me the name Quinn Nolan. I guess I’m satisfied with a name like that. When I was nine years old, my mother died, and shortly after, my older brother Uilleam was sent off to a boarding school. My father is Scottish and my mom was American. I have light skin and dark brown hair. My eyes are amber which I hear is extremely rare. I am five-feet-eight inches tall, and forty-three years old. I graduated high school in 1989 and I went to Stanford for my bachelor years and for medical school. Then I moved back to Seattle, bought my own apartment, and started working as a full time doctor.
After frantically pulling into a parking space I bolt into the the emergency room. There is a man on a bed who looks horribly injured. I’m only told that he got into a car crash. The man’s face somehow looks familiar to me, however I can’t put his face to name just yet. As I run I ask one of the nurse’s to give me some basic information about him. The nurse hands me his chart and I read the name: Uilleam (“William”) Nolan. I am so shocked I stop dead in my tracks.
When I was nine years old and my brother Uilleam was eleven, the worst thing I have ever encountered happened. Being a boy at his age, my brother was intrigued by fire. One night when we were all asleep, my brother crept out of his bed and went downstairs. He wanted to play with fire, and like the idiot that he is, he decided to try it out in our wine cellar. He lit a match and accidentally lost control of it, and it flew into one of the wine shelves. The whole house went up in flames and Uilleam, not being able to think properly in the moment, ran out of the the house without alerting us. My mom, my dad, and I had to escape together but my mother died while defending me from being smacked from a huge chunk of debris falling from the roof. My brother was exceedingly guilt-ridden after that, and a few weeks later he was sent off to a boarding school. I haven't seen him since.
I learn that his left arm, right leg, and nose are broken, he is scratched all over, his left kidney is completely crushed, and he has acute renal failure of his right one, a mild heart attack that he will survive from, and some bruises from the airbag impact. Although, as hard as I try, I cannot feel any sympathy for him whatsoever. Even today, I still can’t forgive him for what he did that night 34 years ago. But I keep saying to myself: “Sin’s cannot be undone, only forgiven” (Igor Stravinsky).
It’s been a week and a half since my brother presented to the emergency room. He’s in the intensive care unit now and will definitely need more time in there, but it looks like he will survive. I have been doing as little as possible to help him heal faster. We had to remove his left kidney and his right one seems to be working, although it’ll probably fail again some day. I honestly can’t live with this desire to finally talk to him, but I have been avoiding it for the past ten days. I decide that late tonight, when almost everyone else has gone home, I’ll go into his room to speak directly to him after all these years.
It’s 9:30 at night and I’m one of the last few left here. I’m still in my office contemplating what I will say to him first. After thinking for what feels like a lifetime, I give up and just make my way over to his room. As soon as enter I realize that he is awake and can see me through a window reflection on the other side of the room. He saves me trouble of what to say first.
“Hello Quinn.” He says in a low villain-like voice.
“I never thought you’d talk to me again,” he continues.
“I never wanted to but at this point I didn’t really have a choice! And why the heck were you even in Seattle! You don’t live here anymore!” I say.
“I came here to talk to you and dad. To see if you could forgive me. Ever si-” I cut him off.
“You are such a liar,” I say. My voice is louder now.
“I’ve changed!” he shouts. “If after 34 years you still can’t forgive me then you are the weakest person I’ve ever known! And I’m not lying, you child! Ask dad like you always did when we were kids!” He shouts.
At this I am at a loss for words. I just stay still. Staring into the ground. All of a sudden, someone opens the door and catches me by surprise. It’s one of the nurse’s.
“Is everything okay in here?” he says looking at me and then Uilleam.
“Yeah. I was just testing if he could talk fine,” I say while pacing out of the room, not giving my brother another look. I hear his door close behind me as I turn a corner.
As soon as I get into my car, I slam the door shut, and decide not to go home, but to go to my fathers house. He lives about thirty minutes away from here. I need to talk to him. I need to know if he knew that Uilleam was coming back here. I start to speed towards his house. As I drive, it starts to rain, and the roads get much more slippery, but I don’t slow down. When I am about 5 minutes away, I take a very sharp turn, and my car slides off the road and into some woods. Thankfully though the impact wasn’t hard enough for the air bags to deploy. I am about to pull back onto the road when I see a completely smashed up car, a little bit ahead of me. I get out of my car and make my way towards it. When I get right next to it, I see that the airbags are out and that there are a few drops of blood in places. The car also doesn’t look like its been here for long. Then I realize what it is. Uilleam’s car. He must have been leaving dad’s house when he crashed. I can’t handle being here and contemplating what actually happened any longer. Uilleam was right. I am weak. I get back into my car, close the door, and continue to drive to my dad's house.
I pull up into my dad’s driveway, get out of my filthy car, and knock on his door. It takes him about 30 seconds to get to the door. When he opens it, he looks surprised. I don’t know why. He must have known that I would eventually show up here.
“Oh. Hi Quinn,” He says.
“Hi dad,” I say. “Can we talk?”
“Of course,” He says. “Come in.”
I follow him into the house that I used to live in after my mom died. This place has so many different memories for me. As soon as I sit down, we start to talk.
“Do you want some tea?” he asks me before I say anything.
“No thanks,” I respond.
“Okay, well then I’m free to talk about whatever you want.” He says
“Dad you knew that Uilleam was coming back here, didn’t you?” I ask. He sighs.
“About two weeks ago he told me that he was coming back to the city to talk to you. He told me he’d drop by here first. He said that he would call me but he hasn’t called yet. I didn’t want to tell you because I was afraid that you would just refuse as soon as I mentioned it.”
“Dad, Uilleam had a horrible crash like 5 minutes away from here. He’s in the hospital, but in terrible condition. He’ll have to be in there for the next few weeks,” I say. He looks speechless.
“Quinn, I- I don’t know what to say.” He says completely shocked. “Is he going to be okay?” He asks.
“Yeah but it’ll take him a long time to fully heal,” I say.
“I need to go see him! This is horrible!” He says.
“ Dad I can take you tomorrow, he’s probably asleep now” I lie.
It’s seven in the evening and my dad and I are pacing into the hospital. I take him straight to Uilleam room, and knock on the door.
“Come in,” he says. My dad walks in first, and I follow shortly after.
“Dad!” Uilleam exclaims. My dad walks over and hugs him. My brother looks at me for a second then looks away.
“Are you okay?” dad asks.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine” he says. “What are you doing here?” he angrily says to me.
“Stop fighting just for once!” My dad exclaims. “You two still can’t get along after over thirty years?”
“Dad I th-” I get cut off.
“That was a rhetorical question!” he says. “Quinn come into the hall for a second with me.”
My dad spends over an hour and a half talking to both of us, get along and forget what happened. “Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge,” is his favorite Shakespearean quote. He must have said that to us at least twenty times. After what feels like hours, we aren’t fighting… for now. After my dad leaves I go back into Uilleam’s room, and say something I never thought that I would.
“I know I said that I would never forgive you, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t try to. This is the first time what’s left of our family has been together in a long time, and I realized that I have been insensible. ‘Happiness can only live in acceptance (George Orwell)’, and I’m going to try very hard to forgive you.” It takes him a while to answer.
“Thank-you,” he says. “You have no idea what living with such guilt and sorrow for over thirty years can do to you.”
(5 months later)
Uilleam got out of the hospital a few months ago, and started living in my dad’s house for some time. I am still here but I visit him quite often. After that conversation in his room in the intensive care unit, we have talked a lot, and I think that I have finally lost my huge grudge on him, and forgiven him. I’m at work right now and I am almost done looking after a patient when a nurse comes running in and tells me that my brother is back here and is in a lot of pain. I get a huge pit in my stomach.
“I’ll be there as soon as I’m done here” I say.
When I get to his room my brother looks just like the nurse described him. In lot’s of pain.
“Quinn,” he says.
“I’m here,” I say.
“He has acute renal failure of his right kidney again” the nurse says. “He’s had it for days now!”
“Again?” I ask. And then I remember. When I still hated him, I didn’t tell the nurses to properly fix his kidney. I lied to them and this is what happened. I feel so apoplectic with my self. I feel myself turning red with anger. “Is it beyond repair?” I ask with hope that it’s not.
“I’m afraid so” the nurse says.
“Take mine!” I say. “Give him my kidney!” The nurses look shocked.
I am given a medicine to get rid of pain and one to fall asleep. After that I don’t remember a thing. I am woken up later and I don’t know how much time has passed. There are stitches where my right kidney was. I am so desperate to know what happened to my brother that I ask about it first. I get the answer from the faces of the nurses and a doctor standing near-by. Somethings wrong.
“We got your kidney out but we weren’t able to get it into your brother in time,” the doctor says.
I immediately look over at my brother who is on a bed and is wired up to a heart monitor that shows that his breathing is getting shorter. Every few seconds I hear the monitor beep twice then stay silent for longer than it did the last time. My brother looks at me.
“Can you see the sunlight?” He says while smiling. “Keep it with you forever.” He closes his eyes.
The heart monitor he’s wired up to changes the line’s color from white into red, and holds down a beep. I feel horrified, inconsolable, and incensed all at the same time. My brother just died. It’s all my fault. Can I ever be forgiven?
The doctor who is in the room with me, who is promoted to a higher level than me, starts to examine Uilleam’s records after a short while. I know that he’ll realize that his kidney wasn’t fixed correctly at first, and then I don’t even want to think about what will happen. This is already a horrible week and I can’t handle it being any worse.
“Did you do the original surgery on his kidney 5 months ago?” he asks me. I nod a yes. “Well it was very poorly done. What happened to you? This is the worst job I’ve ever seen!” He says. I have no idea what to say.
“Maybe I just …” I can’t finish the sentence.
“Get out,” he says. I look up at him.
“What!” I say sounding surprised for an unknown reason.
“I’m firing you,” he says. “You clearly lack the skills needed to work here, so I highly suggest that you get out. You no longer work here.” I leave without another word. My life is about to go through the biggest change ever.
Three years ago my brother died, all because of me, and two days later, we had a funeral for him. My dad ran the funeral, and I didn’t say much. I kept quiet and had no clue what to do next. But I didn’t cry. Not at all. Although I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Two years later my dad passed away from old age. He was 91. Now I’m all alone in this world. No one and nothing left cares at all about me. I got a job at a restaurant to try to make some money but I’m barely making anything. I also never sold my father’s house. It would give me a lot of money, but it has too many memories. Finally when I’m almost facing foreclosure, I decide that I have to sell it. I jump into my car and drive over there one last time before I have to say good bye to it.
When I reach, it takes me a while to get into the house. This is the first time I’ve walked in here since I picked dad up to go visit Uilleam years ago. I look around the house one last time before leaving. Upon exiting though, I remember that when I was a kid before my mother died, I always used to look under the mat on our porch to see if there was a secret letter. I started doing this after I read a short book about spies. I look under it one last time. Greatly to my surprise, there is a letter there. I open it. It’s from Uilleam, written the day of his death. It reads…
If you are reading this, than I am probably already dead. I put it here just before the ambulance took me to the hospital. I want you to know that I couldn’t live with my guilt after mom died. I was overjoyed when you managed to forgive me. I have decided to leave my entire will in your name. You will inherit all my money. I always used to tell you to be strong when we were kids, but now, I’m telling you to stay strong.
Your brother, Uilleam.