Katelyn ran into the bathroom and locked the door behind her after everything was over with and done. I was shocked. It wasn’t like her to act this way. I thought after such a trying day, things would be okay after I had taken care of everything. Well, apparently they weren’t. I had tried to comfort her afterwards like I always do, had tried to make sure she was alright, but she wouldn’t have any of it. She just pushed me away and ran towards the bathroom. Something told me things weren’t right, but even with Katelyn’s history, I never would have expected what I found behind that door.
“Katelyn,” I began knocking, “Katelyn, open up this door.”
All I could hear behind the door was sobbing and then rummaging through something. I don’t know what it was, but I knew I had to get in there. I quickly ran into my room and went to Daniel’s and my dresser. On top of it there was a metal container with coins inside. I opened the lid of that metal container and grabbed the first coin I could then ran back to the bathroom door and inserted the coin into the tiny slot on the knob, turning the coin with it and opening the door. The first thing I saw when I walked in was Katelyn standing there pathetically, a razor in her hand, cuts all up and down her arms and legs and then I noticed her wrist was cut up especially bad. Even if I wasn’t a doctor I’d know how horrible this was.
The first words that came out of my mouth were, “Oh my God. What have I done?” as she collapsed to the ground and then I started crying. Spanking her before had never resulted in this. How had it resulted in something like this now? It didn’t make any goddamn sense.
I wanted to kneel down beside her and just hold her but even in a moment like this, I knew I had to stop the bleeding. There were ratty towels in the hall closet. I quickly went there and grabbed as many towels, even if they weren’t ratty, as I could then ran back to the bathroom and started wrapping them tightly around the various cuts, applying pressure. I focused mainly on the wrist. If she died, it would be because she lost too much blood from the veins in her wrist. “Katelyn, don’t die on me,” I cried, as I held onto her tightly. “I can’t lose you too.”
Suddenly I heard a door slam below and Daniel call up to me, “We’re home!”
“Daniel! Daniel!” I choked out in tears. “Hurry up here! I need your help! Katelyn and I are in the bathroom!” I could barely get the words out without sobbing.
I heard running up the stairs and then saw Daniel appear in the doorway, Jessica right behind him. “Oh my God,” he said in disbelief. “What happened?”
“I don’t know,” I cried. “I just punished her and then she ran in here and she started cutting, I guess.” I paused. “Daniel, we have to stop the bleeding now or she’ll die. I can’t lose her,” I sobbed. “I can’t lose her.”
“I’m going to call 911,” Daniel said to me then quickly punched the numbers into his phone. I sobbed still and buried my face into Katelyn’s hair, still applying pressure to the wounds. I had tied towels and rags around the wounds I couldn’t apply pressure to. Jessica stood in the doorway, dumbfounded, a look of disbelief on her face. She was shaking her head, not believing the sight before her.
“Why?” Jessica asked without really expecting any real answer. “Why?”
I shook my head back, “I don’t know.”
“911, this is an emergency. My husband’s sister was found in our bathroom unconscious with cuts all over her body and severe cuts on her wrist. She’s bleeding very heavily right now. Please send an ambulance. It’s urgent.” There was a pause. “Thank you.” Daniel hung up the phone. “They’re on their way,” he said.
I nodded, still crying. “Jessica, can you go get Katelyn’s shorts from my room?” I asked, trying to remain calm.
She nodded solemnly and went off to my bedroom, grabbing Katelyn’s shorts and coming back. “Thank you,” I said then proceeded to gently put them on over her legs while still applying pressure to her wrist, which was where she was bleeding from most. Some of the cuts had already stopped bleeding, so that was good, but her wrist was not done bleeding and I knew if she was, God forbid, going to die, then it would be from loss of blood from there. I wanted to move her downstairs, but I knew it would be best to let the paramedics do that.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. “I’ll go get it,” Daniel told us.
Within moments the paramedics were coming up the stairs with a stretcher behind them. They started asking me questions that I wasn’t able to answer because I wasn’t calm enough. Daniel, already knowing enough, answered them for me. Before I knew it they were putting her on the stretcher and carrying her down the steps.
“You ride in the ambulance with Katelyn. Jessica and I will drive,” Daniel said to me.
I nodded solemnly as Daniel put his arms around me and gave me a hug. “It’ll be okay,” he told me. “She’ll be alright.”
I nodded again, letting out another sob, “Thanks, Dan.”
“I’ll see you there,” he said gently as he closed the door behind us and I got into the ambulance behind Katelyn. They closed the doors quickly and soon the sirens were blaring and we were on our way to the hospital. The entire way, all I could think was don’t let her die, just don’t let her die.
The ride to the hospital was a complete blur. I couldn’t believe that we had only been gone from the hospital for about 2 hours or so and we were already going back. I didn’t envision my day happening like this. First, Jessica gets beat up by Katelyn and we have to be there for the majority of the day. Then, I come back home and after everything is supposedly taken care of, my other sister ends up cutting herself incessantly and going unconscious. Lovely. Perfect. This was just how I wanted things to turn out.
Soon enough, we were pulling up to the emergency room and they were opening up the doors of the ambulance, lowering Katelyn out of the vehicle as quickly as they could. I followed behind them as they went through the doors and into the emergency room, through the hallways and into a room. I stood there, dumbfounded, as they began to stop the bleeding. I should have been able to do this myself at home but the cuts were too severe and too many. I’d seen girls (and some boys) come into the clinic with cuts like this before but never had I seen something this horrible. And to think that this was my sister, my baby sister. It was too hard to believe. All the same, it was true, and I was seeing her here, unconscious in a hospital room, closer to death than I had ever seen anyone who meant so much to me before.
I needed to sit down. This was too much. Yeah, I was a doctor and I had been for a few years now but this wasn’t just anybody we were talking about. This was Katelyn. This was my sister, my family. Now that our parents were dead, I was responsible and something inside of me kept asking, what did I do wrong? And if it wasn’t those words running through my mind then it was, I’m sorry, mom and dad. I’m so sorry. I tried. I’m trying. I’m sorry I can’t be better. God this is all my fault. I wish I could do more. Don’t let her die. And those thoughts just kept replaying in my head over and over as I sat down on a chair, hoping for the best and praying that she hadn’t lost too much blood. Before too long though, I was sent out to wait in the ER waiting room. I guess I was too much of a distraction from the matter at hand. I guess that made sense, though, seeing as I was pretty hysterical from the moment I had set foot in that bathroom.
When I came out into the waiting room, Daniel was sitting there waiting for me, just as he had been waiting there for me before. Only instead of Katelyn waiting with him this time, it was Jessica, with her cast and everything. I sat down beside Daniel and put my head in my hands. I wasn’t sure how much more of this I could take.
“How’s she holding out?” Daniel asked.
I shook my head, “I don’t know. They rushed me out of there because I was too much of a distraction.”
Daniel began rubbing my back, “I’m sure she’ll be fine. They know what they’re doing.”
“So do I. But for some odd reason I wasn’t able to do anything.”
“Robert, this isn’t your fault. You did what you could and had you not done what you did she may have been dead by now.”
“I guess you’re right,” I replied, sighing heavily.
There were several moments of silence among us before I finally spoke again. Jessica had gone to the bathroom, so I felt that it was a right time to bring this conversation up. “I’m never spanking either one of them again,” I said.
“Wait a second; you want to cut that punishment out entirely?” Daniel asked.
“Yes. I do. After this happened, no way am I going to spank them again. It’s not worth the risk.”
Daniel paused. “I agree.”
“You do?” I was surprised. I hadn’t expected Daniel to agree, though I suppose that does make sense.
“It makes perfect sense. We can do something a little safer. I’m sure it will have the same effect; at least I hope it does. Spankings clearly aren’t working for Katelyn and I wouldn’t want to risk something like this happening with Jessica or Katelyn again. We can do essays or lines or grounding or more chores, anything but what we’ve been doing, since it clearly isn’t working anymore. I’m not sure it ever was anyway.”
I nodded. “You’re right. I’m not sure they’ve really taught Katelyn anything. And clearly it didn’t help the cause tonight when she did this. And Jessica, well, we can’t take them away from Katelyn’s discipline and not take them away from Jessica’s. That just wouldn’t be fair.”
“So we’re agreed then?”
I nodded. “We’re agreed. No more spankings, ever.”
As if on cue, Jessica walked in right after I said that and sat down.
“Any updates on Katelyn?” she asked. This was the first time she had said anything since coming to the hospital. She had been unusually quiet. Odd since quiet wasn’t a word I would use to describe her.
“No, not yet,” I replied. “No one has come out to tell us what’s going on. I’m starting to get worried.”
Yet again, as if on cue, the doctor who had helped with Jessica came out to tell us what was going on with Katelyn. Weird how it was the same exact doctor from before. She took in a deep breath before speaking then let it out in a smile and said, “Everything’s going to be alright. She’s stabilized and breathing. Her vitals are good and surprisingly she only lost a pint of blood. That is much less than I would have expected considering the amount of blood that was coming out.” She paused. “Robert, you got to her just in time. Had you not applied pressure to those wounds, she probably would have died.”
I smiled. “Thank you for everything.” I paused a brief moment before saying, “Can we go back to see her?”
Dr. O’Brien smiled politely. “Of course you can,” she said. “Follow me.”
“Come on, Jessica,” I said gently, reaching out my hand towards her. “Let’s go.”
She grabbed my right hand with her left hand weakly and followed myself and Daniel back to the room Dr. O’Brien was leading us to.
“She’s right in here,” she told us, pointing through the doorway. I saw that they had moved her to a regular room and out of the emergency room. That had to be a good sign. It meant that she was fairly stabilized.
“I’ll leave the three of you alone with her.”
“Thank you, Dr. O’Brien,” I said politely and truly gratefully.
“Of course. It’s my job.” She smiled again.
I sat down in the chair beside Katelyn’s hospital bed. Bandages covered both her arms entirely and her wrist extensively. I’m sure her legs were the exact same. I placed my hand gently on top of hers and spoke her name in a very soft voice, “Katelyn, honey, can you hear me?”
And then, her eyes opened, slowly but surely.
I opened my eyes, expecting to see the darkness of my room and to hear Jessica’s snoring beside me, only to be surprised and find that I was in a bright white room with IVs hooked up to my arm and in what appeared to be a hospital bed. The first person I saw was Robert, his bright emerald green eyes staring at me with deep concern and his hand lying gently on top of mine.
I struggled to get the words I wanted to say out of my mouth, “What… why… what… what happened?”
“Shh,” he said gently. “Don’t over-exert yourself. You’ve already been through a lot. I’ll explain what happened.” He paused. “Do you remember what you did to Jessica?”
“Yes,” I replied sadly.
“Do you remember how I punished you after we got back home from the hospital?”
I nodded. I didn’t want to remember, but I did.
“Well, afterwards, I tried to comfort you and make sure you were alright but you kept telling me to stop touching you. I was shocked and tried to figure out what was wrong but you wouldn’t answer my question. Instead you ran into the bathroom and locked the door behind you. I told you to open the door but you wouldn’t so I went to go get a coin and open up the bathroom door. I found you with a razor in your hand and cuts all over your body. Then you fell out of consciousness and fainted. I went to go grab towels to stop the bleeding because your wrist was bleeding especially badly and I knew I had to stop the bleeding if you were going to live. Daniel and Jessica came home. We called the paramedics. You were rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and they stopped the bleeding as fast as they could. Luckily, you only lost a pint of blood, which is surprising, given the amount of bleeding that was happening. Had I not gotten to you in time, you may have been dead right now, Kate.”
“I’m sorry, Robert,” I said.
“Shh, honey, it’s alright. Don’t worry about it.” He put a hand on my head and brushed the hair out of my face. “You’re alive and that’s all that matters.”
I nodded, too weak to say anything else.
“Get some rest, hon.” He kissed the top of my forehead. “We’ll be here.”
I nodded again and closed my eyes once more, happy to have a chance to sleep, even if it was under these circumstances.
I smiled as Katelyn closed her eyes and went to sleep. She was alive. She was okay. Sure, she would be weak for a few days and yes, I’m sure she was emotionally and mentally drained and that she probably had way more mental issues than I thought she did. But she was alive and that was all that mattered.
“Dr. Parker, can I speak with you for a moment?” I turned around to see Dr. O’Brien in the doorway, her smile illuminating the whole room.
“Yeah,” I answered. “Sure.”
I walked towards the doorway and out into the hall while Daniel and Jessica stayed in the room with Katelyn. Suddenly it dawned upon me that they probably wondered what caused Katelyn to do this to herself and then I worried about what they would think when I told them the truth and while it wasn’t illegal to use corporal punishment in New York, I still had this irrational thought in my head for a brief moment that they’d take Katelyn and Jessica away from me. I couldn’t bear that thought so I tried to push it away, to no avail. It just kept coming back.
“Dr. Parker, I’m sure that you are being an excellent guardian but I need to ask you, what caused Katelyn to do this? Did something happen between the two of you when you got home?”
I smiled gently and wistfully. “Dr. O’Brien, this isn’t exactly something I’m comfortable sharing with you as I try to keep most family matters private but Daniel and I do use spanking as a form of punishment on the girls. Katelyn had beaten up Jessica earlier and when we came home I punished her in that manner. I guess something must have snapped inside of her and she just ran into the bathroom and started cutting.” I paused. “She hasn’t exactly been open with me on how she’s been feeling. We were going to start sending her to a therapist because she’s been showing self-destructive behavior in other ways like not eating enough but we just haven’t gotten the chance yet.”
“I see,” Dr O’Brien replied. “Well, we just needed to know. I didn’t expect any abuse to be happening at home but I had to make sure that it wasn’t a possibility.”
“No, ma’am. Most definitely not.” I paused. “I’m just trying to take care of my sisters as best as I can.”
“I understand.” She took a deep breath in and then sighed. “Within a few hours Katelyn should be able to go home. She’s stabilized enough and just needs to gain a little bit of energy back and then we will release her under the condition that you will sign a contract saying you will start sending her to therapy and also send her to a psychiatrist.” She briefly paused again. “I wouldn’t be surprised if your sister had a mood disorder of some type.”
“I fully intend on sending her. After this, there’s no question about it.”
She smiled again. “Good,” she replied. “I’m glad. Now I’ll leave you alone with your family.”
“Thank you so much for everything, Dr. O’Brien. First with Jessica and now with Katelyn. I can’t thank you enough.”
“Hey, it’s my job. What can I say?”
I laughed a little, “I know.”
“I’ll bring back the papers later for you to sign, Dr. Parker.”
“Thank you, again.”
With that she left and I walked back into the room and stood beside Jessica who was sitting down in the chair beside Katelyn. It didn’t take me long to notice the tears running down her face. “I’m sorry, Katelyn,” she mouthed silently and then laid her head on the bed beside our sleeping sister.
“Hey now, Jess. It’s fine. Everything’s okay.” I squatted down beside her. “This isn’t your fault, okay?”
She shook her head, still crying. “It doesn’t matter if it is or not. I’m still sorry.”
“Jessica, look at me,” I said.
She looked up at me hesitantly.
“This is not your fault and Katelyn is alive and okay. That’s all that matters. And tomorrow we’re going to put all of this behind us and we’re going to move forward, alright?”
She nodded, again a little hesitantly, being much more compliant than she normally is. I couldn’t tell if that was a good sign or not. “Alright.”
I wrapped my arms around her gently and engulfed her in a tight hug. “I love you, sis. I love you so much.”
She wrapped her arms around my neck and nodded, still crying, tiny little sobs escaping from her mouth.
“Shh, shh…” I rubbed her back. “Everything’s gonna be alright, baby.”
“I know,” she whispered. “I know.”
Meanwhile, Daniel just stood there watching us, letting me have this moment with the sister I had never been close to, which bothered me. I had always wished I could take back those years of taunting, that there was some way I could make it up to her, some way I could make it so it never happened. I knew she didn’t hate me but I knew she resented me and the fact that I was raising her now. Still, I think things were getting better. At least, I hope they were. If they weren’t, I would have been pretty upset, more so than I already was.
Soon enough, Jessica calmed down enough to where she wasn’t crying and I could let go of her.
“So she’ll be okay?” Jessica asked.
I smiled at her gently, “She’ll be just fine, baby.”
She looked over at her twin. I knew she missed how their relationship used to be. “Good,” she said. “That makes me feel better.”
I smiled again. I just hoped that things would be okay for long enough.
When I woke up again the only person there was Jessica, sitting by my side, looking at me.
“Hey,” I said in a hoarse voice.
“Hi,” she replied. “How are you feeling?”
“Weak. Dizzy. Tired.” I paused. “Where are Daniel and Robert?”
“They went to go sign some papers and to sign you out. They said that as soon as you woke up, we’d probably be able to go.”
I nodded and there were a few minutes of silence between us before I spoke up. “Look, Jess, I’m really sorry. First I beat you up and put you in the hospital and then I scared you by doing this. I didn’t mean any of it, Jess. I really didn’t. And I’m so sorry.” I almost broke on my last few words.
“It’s fine, Kate. I understand.”
“No, it’s not fine.”
“Yes, it really is.” She paused. “You’re alive and like Robert said, that’s all that matters.” She paused again. “We thought we were going to lose you for sure. It’s a miracle you’re alive and none of us could be happier that you are.” She smiled softly at me. “I love you so much, Kate. I don’t tell you that enough.”
“I love you too, Jess.”
At that exact moment Daniel and Robert walked in. “You finally wake up, sleepyhead,” Daniel teased.
I wistfully smiled. “Yeah,” I said. “I woke up.”
“How you feeling, hon?” he asked.
“Weak. Dizzy. Still tired.”
“I’d imagine so,” he replied. “It’s probably to be expected after that ordeal.”
“Yeah,” I whispered sadly then paused and said, “When can we go home?”
“As soon as you’re unhooked from all these contraptions!” Robert half yelled, trying to joke around with me to make me feel better. I’m not sure it really did any good.
“Yay…” I faked enthusiasm. I was too tired to really be enthusiastic.
“Katelyn,” Daniel said, trying to cheer me up. “Lighten up. You’re going home!”
“Yeah, I know,” I told him. “I’m just super duper tired.”
He nodded. “It’s understandable.”
As soon as he said that, a nurse walked in to unhook me from everything, quietly. She said very little… just unhooked me from all the machines and took the IVs out and told me to never do something like this again and that she didn’t want to see us in this hospital any time soon. I nodded at everything she said, agreeing so as not to cause any trouble. I didn’t want to disagree. It was too much work.
Robert had apparently gone to get a wheelchair from the clinic while I was sleeping at some point and had brought it in for us to use. He told me to sit down in it, not really giving me much of a choice and wheeled me out to the car and gently lifted me up then placed me in the backseat, being careful of my wrist especially. I ached all over and so many inches of my skin burned. I guess that’s what happened when you cut yourself up so badly.
Soon enough, we were out of the hospital parking lot and on our way home. It was light outside and I assumed we had been there the entire night and that it was now somewhere around 7 or 8 in the morning. We got home within a matter of 10 minutes, sooner than I would have expected. As soon as we got home, Robert came to my side with the wheelchair and lifted me up then put me into it, taking me up to the front door and making sure I got inside safely. I tried to get up on my own to walk up the stairs but he wouldn’t let me. His overprotective older brother side was coming out.
“Katelyn, I don’t want you walking up those stairs on your own. Let me carry you up there.”
I rolled my eyes. “Fine,” I said.
He lifted me up and carried me to my bed, gently placing me down on it. I didn’t have any shoes on, so I didn’t worry about it. He tucked me in and kissed my forehead gently. “Get some sleep, sweetie. I’ll wake you up in a few hours.”
I fell asleep for the third time in the past 12 hours. It was probably the first actual restful sleep I had gotten since going into the hospital.
I woke Katelyn gently from her sleep at around 1:30 in the afternoon. I figured she would need more sleep later but that this was enough for now. “Katelyn, honey, you need to wake up. Daniel and I need to talk to you and Jessica.”
She slowly rose up and looked over at Jessica whom Daniel was waking up at that moment. She rubbed her eyes weakly. “What do you need to talk to us about?” she asked.
“Hold on a second, hon.” I paused then called over to Jessica. “Jessica, can you come over here, baby?”
She nodded weakly but then asked, “What do you guys want to talk to us about?” as she walked over with Daniel and sat down next to Katelyn.
I took in a deep breath. It’s not like what I was about to tell them would disappoint them but I was worried that trying other punishments wouldn’t work as well and that if they felt they wouldn’t get spanked for what they did wrong then they would just do whatever the hell they felt like but they had to know what was in store for them. It just wouldn’t be right otherwise. “Daniel and I have decided, after what happened with Katelyn, that we won’t be spanking either one of you anymore again. They’re over with and done. No more.”
I paused, waiting for their reactions and Jessica was the first one to vocalize her thoughts.
I was shocked. What? No more spankings? I wasn’t sure if I liked that thought or not. Yeah, they hurt but I always felt better afterwards. That must sound weird to most people but it’s like I felt forgiven afterwards and I was worried if they switched to other punishments, I wouldn’t feel forgiven anymore. What happened with this last spanking was a freak accident. I’d just been messed up since school ended, that was all. And it wouldn’t happen again, right? Right? Yeah, it wouldn’t happen again because Daniel and Robert would never use that punishment on us again.
Jessica was clearly just as shocked as I was because she said, “Wait… wait a second. What? You’re not going to spank us anymore.”
“No,” Daniel said. “We’re not.”
“But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any punishments when you do the wrong thing,” Robert replied.
“It just means we’ll use something else,” said Daniel.
“Like grounding or essays,” added Robert.
“Or lines or more chores,” Daniel added again.
“But no more spankings,” said Robert, “Ever again. It’s not worth the risk.” He paused. “Are you two okay with that?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Jessica said a little overenthusiastically. “I’m perfectly fine with it.”
I stared off into space, a little sad. “Katelyn?” Robert said in a questioning tone, trying to bring me out of my thoughts.
“Yeah?” I asked.
“Are you okay with that?”
“Yeah,” I replied. “I’m fine with it.” Even though I really wasn’t.
“Okay,” Robert said. “It’s settled then. No more spankings in this house.”
No more spankings. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe it would be great.
Who was I kidding? I had a bad feeling about the next few months ahead and as much as I tried to ignore it, I would turn out to be right. This wouldn’t work and things would end up much worse than they had already been with the spankings.
This wasn’t going to be easy… not even in the slightest.