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Virus of Nightmares

By Gabriela B.

     Slouched on my bed coiled up in three blankets, I stared blankly at the TV. The lights on the screen reflected off my face, changing all different sorts of colors. I felt my eyelids scorching as I closed my eyes, chills screamed throughout my body. My body was dead, no movement until the spasms overcame it. The dragging of sandals echoed through the hallway and my door opened slowly.

    “Hola Princesa, Como te sientes? Tienes hambre?” my abuela said when she saw my ill soul. With both of her knees replaced she walked dragging her feet everywhere. Shuffling to me, she wrapped her arms around me, I gave no effort to move, I couldn't even if I tried, I was in need of immense help. She held me tight as the white blood cells lowered more and more every second, the virus of my nightmares was killing my immune system. My Abuela brought me food and medicine, even with her being old and having a bad immune system, she didn’t care, she wanted to help me get better.

    8 AM struck and there was my bashful blue soul walking through the halls of high school. The day dragged on just like my spirit did through the halls. The banging of lockers made my ears pound and my eyes twitch. I Constantly felt like I was in below zero weather and immensely fatigue. The bell rang at 3 o’clock and the sky started to weep. Tears escaped my eyes as I walked to my car, teeth clanging against each other, my legs purple, my friend held me tightly as I struggled. He put me in the car and wrapped me in a blanket and put all sorts of heat on. My mother mad as can be raced over to the school. With my eyes swollen and red, a distant voice was heard. “I love you princesa” my abuelas voice trembled. “I love you mi Reina,” I said chittering through my teeth. Her soft voice gave me a strong sense to keep fighting.

      My mother sped and swerved from lane to lane making my head swing with the motion, my conscious flooded with dark thoughts ending with me seeing light. After what felt like endless hours of waiting, I got omitted into the hospital to stay overnight. They sucked the blood out of my veins and tested that I had no immune system, therefore I was not allowed to leave. Scared out of my mind, my body laid still in room 304. My chest moved in and out as anxiety ate away at me.

     Night after night I did not sleep, It was either the IV hurting me or my mother's snoring. nurses would take my blood at 1 AM every night trying to find out what was taking charge of my body. I would squirm and close my eyes tight trapping floods of tears in my eyes as the nurses stabbed me trying to find my hiding veins. On the third day, I had many visitors, one including my abuela. She held my cold hand and rubbed my head softly. My eyelids began to droop as I shivered cold as can be. I began to shake, which then turned into mini convulsions. Blankets were ripped off of me during my episodes, but,  this one I had a tight grip on my five blankets. Tears raced down my face and I began to choke on panic and convulse more. My Abuela held me and cried out to God, asking for Him to help her princesa. Nurses scurried all around me putting medicine through my bloodstream. The clock ticked and my body finally relaxed with my salty tears crusty on my flushed cheeks. The doctor came into the room and told my family and me that my fevers were getting worse. With immense disappointment the mood in the room was cumbersome and sluggish. With my abuela knowing very little english she just smiled at me, being the only bright soul in the gloomy room.

     On the fourth night, I was begging to leave this endless pain. Still very ill and no immune system to defend itself, they let me go, giving up on me. I was so happy to finally come home, slouch back in my bed and let my dogs console me. The virus continued to haunt me and I continued to fight back. My Abuela was by my side until the end of the mysterious virus. She had shown me what it was like to be strong yet soft, and most importantly, how to have hope.

     Till this day no one knows what it was, why it caused me to get so sick, and how I got it. I believe that everything happens for a reason and that God has made me grateful for my health. God provided me with someone who had a constant love for me. My abuela demonstrated life lessons to me that I will always do my best to emulate. I have learned to be strong yet soft and never to never lose hope, because once all hope is lost, what else is there to lose?  The virus of my nightmares will always be a constant paranoia of mine and never forgotten.

Virus of Nightmares: by Gabriela B.
A Pointless Story About the Little Things in Life: by Brenda Z.

A Pointless Story About the Little Things in Life

By Brenda Z.

     KLA Tencor was the building that Dad got up early every morning to go to and the building he would stay at until late into the night. Sometimes he would go when I went to sleep and come home early in the morning before I woke up; he was dedicated to his job but I just thought of him as a workaholic. He was an engineer, the result of being the top of his class throughout all his years in school and his incredible ability to study (a quality we definitely did not share). A stereotypical Asian person except Dad wasn’t just a nerd. He was the only person that could solve problems and write patents in his field and that made him the most valuable nerd there was. He was always typing away on his computer at home; at work he specialized in optics, making semiconductors and gaining the respect of his colleagues for his tremendous achievements. To be honest, I couldn’t care less about the logistics of his job. I was just a little girl in elementary school afterall. Many things could catch my attention, but listening to Dad attempt to explain what made the machines he designed worth millions of dollars was not one of them. 

     KLA Tencor was Dad’s workplace and therefore made it mine too. It was on many weekend evenings, when the sky was a muted periwinkle mixed with bright pink, when Dad dragged me out of the house to his work.

     “Brenda, let’s go. Stop playing on the rocks.”

     “Okay, fine,” I said as I cautiously made my way out of the bed of smooth stones underneath the staircase in the front lobby, slowly and wisely choosing which rocks to step on so as to not accidentally twist my ankle. Man, would that be terrible if I twisted my ankle. Dad would never let me walk on the decorative rocks ever again! I thought to myself. I could hear in my head already: “Brenda don’t you dare walk on those rocks. Remember that time you hurt yourself?” I would never hear the end of it. 

     We climbed the wide carpeted stairs to the second floor where everyone’s office was. Dad had a big room to himself with a heavy door and his own big wooden desk with two chairs for people to come in and talk to him. Dad set his things down and got to work right away and so did I: drawing on the whiteboard. I dragged one of the chairs to the whiteboard so I was able to utilize the entire space. The whiteboard itself had doors like a cabinet. After I pulled them out, revealing the whiteboard covered in dried ink and with what seemed like equations and diagrams, I went to work replacing everything with my own masterpiece. This activity would occupy me for quite a while and often times I would purposefully draw a scary face and write a dumb message like “Brenda was here” and close the cabinet doors so Dad would forget I drew something on it. 

     “What is that?” Dad swiveled around in his chair staring at my masterpiece. 

      “It’s you,” I said, still focused on my drawing. He laughed.

     “Well, once you’re done, can you erase it? Last time you drew that scary face, I opened my whiteboard when my coworkers were here and they saw it.”

     This time I let out a snicker under my breathe. Not loud enough for Dad to hear. At least I hoped it wasn’t. It was too good of a prank, which was why I was going to leave my drawing again this time. 

     A hard worker needs fuel. Fuel in the form of stale red vines from the vending machine in the break room, my favorite. They came in a huge pack and it was like eating rubber but sweet rubber so one packet lasted a while. You would think that there would be nothing for a little girl to do at a high tech company but I was a creative kid. I played with Dad’s laser pointer, shining it all the way across the second floor and on the ceiling tiles. I would take the two chairs and make a bed with them and try to pretend I was relaxing on a lawn chair. It wasn’t very comfortable but it was the thought that counted. When I finally did absolutely everything that I could, I would ask Dad if we could leave. 

     “Yeah, give me one more second.” A few more clicks on the computer and we were out of his office. 

     “Do you want steamed milk before we go?”

     “Yeah!” I replied with enthusiasm. 

     We made our way to the break room and Dad grabbed a jug of milk from the fridge and poured it into a metal cup. The coffee machine at their break room was like the ones they had at Starbucks: shiny, big, complicated, and seemingly very expensive. He placed the metal cup under the nozzle poking out the side of the machine. A shrieking sound began, and in a few minutes the milk had turned foamy and steaming hot. The creamy liquid was poured into a small styrofoam cup, and Dad sprinkled in two packets of sugar. I stirred the mixture with the plastic red sticks and used them to drink the milk except I never waited long enough so burning my tongue every time had become part of the routine. 

     These days where I would spend a few hours in Dad’s office had no particular purpose. No lesson learned. Nothing productive done. No life-changing experience. Yet, when I think about my childhood memories, the times I’ve spent in that office are the ones I remember. Strange isn’t it? I guess most childhood memories fall under this theme. That’s not to say that they don’t mean anything. Maybe not to anyone else. Just me. And maybe Dad too.

     As we made our way back downstairs and then out the door, the cold evening air flooded my skin and the sun was no longer out. A man who I could have only assumed to be Dad’s coworker was smoking a cigarette in the parking lot. The smell of the smoke invaded my nose. He probably had a stressful life like Dad. 

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