Quarantined Bonds

The morning rain was loud, and it took away the light. As much as I wanted to head out, I couldn’t. But the weather wasn’t the only thing keeping me inside. Our world was under attack by a virus spreading at an alarming rate.

Last month, I returned home from college, anticipating my last spring break as an undergrad. But my plans were halted when my school called for an immediate shift to remote learning. My community went under lockdown soon after the announcement. Non-essential businesses closed down, forcing people to stay indoors for their safety. But this meant Krystal and I were home for the rest of the semester.

A month has passed since the sudden shift, and I felt I could handle the remote learning environment much better than when it began. It may not be the in-person learning I wanted, but at least I was keeping in touch with my classmates.

That morning, I saw Krystal making breakfast in the kitchen. Whenever I see her, I think about all she did for me. Ever since we were kids, she’d tell me about what she learned, whether it be from her classes or her field trips. Our parents appreciated how we’ve bonded as siblings, especially in times of hardship.

When I was younger, I wanted to go to the park. But the rain prevented that. I got so upset it took some time for me to relax. And then Krystal hugged me, but I didn’t mind it. When I started third grade, the teachers learned one of us died over the summer. The fun new year came crashing down once a teacher let the details slip. The news upset us all. Our parents received emails about the situation. When I got home, Krystal hugged me. But I didn’t mind it.

Then came the night of my freshman formal. A beloved student was killed in a DUI crash the night before. I was looking forward to the dance, but the news ruined the mood. I didn’t get why we still had the dance after all that. Krystal called me that day, but I didn’t respond to her.

Each time Krystal tried to comfort me, I didn’t acknowledge it. I was just interested in myself. She even told me my selfish attitude was a dent in my social skills. She knew I had friends but was concerned my condition would hinder me forever. To this day, I still wonder if my sister intends to do something for me or continue pursuing her dreams. When she left for college for the first time nine years ago, the house felt smaller. I didn’t have my tutor to help me, so I was on my own. But while my parents and teachers helped me, I wasn’t sure if Krystal would do the same. Thankfully, she continued to support me whenever she was at home. But was my happiness all she wanted? I just don’t know at this point.

Today, Krystal tended to turn her gaze towards the refrigerator as she made breakfast. I thought she was distracted by one of the magnets on it, but my dad also liked putting photos across it as well. Maybe she likes something posted there. But I saw a side of her face, and the expression might say otherwise.

There was one possibility for her mood swing. Yesterday, mom called us together for a family meeting. We learned our uncle told her our aunt contracted the virus. Until further notice, she would be in quarantine away from home. It was uncertain whether any of us had the virus since none of us got tested. However, Krystal and mom decided they would take turns shopping while dad and I did our work from home. She sounded confident as she always is back then. But now, her attitude just turned around. I knew Krystal was someone I could look up to, but I never thought she would be depressed.

Suddenly, Krystal dropped a spoon on the ground. Her body shook, almost suggesting it paralyzed itself out of fear. It’s implying she didn’t drop it on purpose, but something did affect her. But I couldn’t understand what it was.

Then it hit me: Krystal had harsh times in her life too. I didn’t care for some of them, but I did remember something. When she came back from her first semester of college, she wore her high school hoodie rather than one from her college. Upon her return, mom and dad hugged her, but I didn’t do the same. I just ignored her. Later that day, my dad told me about the situation regarding my sister. Her college was dealing with controversy, so heading home was rough for her. Dad suggested I try to help her, but I was unsure about her feelings at the time. I never felt bad for attending school somewhere.

Could she have contracted the virus? Is it affecting her right now? Are other symptoms of the virus possible? Those questions raced my mind as I saw Krystal standing silently.

In an instant, I swooped in, hugging her from behind. I wasn’t thinking about her privacy or crashing into her. I just moved on my own by impulse. All I knew was how my sister’s hugs helped me, even if I didn’t mind them. I even remembered her words and began to emulate them to an extent.

“Don’t be scared, sis,” I said. “We’ll get through this craziness just fine. We just have to do our part. No virus will ever separate us.”

“Nick...,” she said.

Krystal broke free from my hug, only to hug me herself almost immediately. Seeing her hug me made me wonder how big I’ve gotten. I thought that I’d never become taller than her, but despite our age gap, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Even so, I do want her to assist me when I have trouble. She is my big sister, after all. Regardless, perhaps a sign of kindness was all she needed from me. She wanted me to mature despite my differences. Maybe I have. Maybe that hug was the sign she needed.

Krystal was hugging me for a bit longer than I’d like. As much as I appreciated the embrace, I realized I had an assignment due soon. And knowing Krystal, she probably has one too. I do remember her discussing her studies and deadlines with us over dinner.

“Don’t you have an assignment to do? You spent all day yesterday working on it!” I said.

Krystal looked up at me. “Promise me you’ll ace your exams and get that diploma, ok Nick? We’ve worked so hard already. We can’t let this virus take away our future,” she said.

I guess we just have to stick together even if times aren’t what we expected. There are bad times, but there are also good times. But my sister and I will get through this no matter what happens.