Don't Let Go


Based on an Alternate Universe created in Santa's Little Miracle

Nothing could be heard other than the constant beeping of the EKG monitor and the rise and fall of Vin's chest.

Next to the bed was the quiet form of one Chris Larabee as he sat vigil by the bed of his younger brother. Bandages covered the 7-year-old from head to toe. Those parts that weren't wrapped like a mummy were patches of black and blue.

A month ago

Shouts of "Happy Birthday" rang out. At least eight people were gathered around the beaming birthday boy as he prepared to blow out 7 candles.

Quietly, the Larabees led Vin out of the wild party, with Buck leading the conga line. They brought him to the garage. Inside, was the greatest bicycle Vin had ever seen! But as soon as the delighted smile touched his face, it disappeared.

"Thanks, but I don't know how to ride a two-wheeler," Vin said, with a trace of disappointment in his small voice.

"We know. That's why we've employed someone to teach you," replied Mr. Larabee solemnly.

One look at Vin's wide open mouth sent Chris into uncontrollable bouts of laughter.

"He meant me!" Chris managed to choke out in between laughs and gasps of breaths.

+ + + + + + +

And so it began. For days, Chris tried to teach Vin how to balance on two wheels. But no matter how hard Vin tried, he was always went home with a defeated look and a variety of bruises.

Although it wasn't an easy journey, Vin never gave up and was ready and kicking in no time flat. It was quite hard for Chris to match his non-stop energy that made Chris call him the "Energizer Bunny".

"This is it, I'm gonna do it today. I can feel it," Vin said with great determination on their 40th try.

"Okay. I'll push the bicycle until you ask me to let go. Ready?" Chris asked. Vin replied with a slight nod as he griped the bicycle handle tightly, preparing himself for the "ride of his life".

"Don't let go until I'm ready okay?" Vin asked.

Chris just replied with a nod.

For 30 minutes, Chris ran around the park, holding Vin's unsteady bicycle. Finally the signal came, and with one last push, Chris let go of the bicycle.

Vin pedaled and pedaled with all his might, trying his best to imagine that Chris was right behind him. I can do it, he willed himself. Unsteady at first, he slowly began to gain confidence and pedaled faster. As the wind blew against his face, Vin felt indescribable joy as he cycled on his own.

Chris too was happy at his brother's achievement and glowed with brotherly pride.

A week later

If moving staying at a hostel and being away from Vin was bad, saying this lecture was worse was and understatement. Dubbed "Mr. Boring" by Buck, he lecturer sure lived up to his name.

On and on he went, talking like a locomotive. Never once did he stop to ask the students if they understood what he was saying. If Chris hadn't been seated beside Buck, who supplied a few laughs, he would have dropped dead from boredom.

All of a sudden, the oh-so-boring lecture stopped as another very solemn looking lecturer entered the lecture hall. A few words were passed between both lecturers until one of them stopped and looked at Chris.

Chris was called out. Slowly he made his way towards the front end of the hall. As soon as he saw both lecturers' expression, he knew whatever they were about to tell him was bad. Very bad.

"Chris," he started, "I've got some bad news for you."

Not good, Chris thought.

"Your brother had been in an accident."

Chris's heart skipped a beat when he heard the dreaded bad news.

"Is he okay?" Chris asked in a near whisper.

"I'm not so sure. But you have been dismissed from school for the rest of the day."

That was it. Without wasting a moment, Chris ran out of the college, glad that he was old enough to drive.

+ + + + + + +

At the hospital, his teary-eyed mother and solemn looking father greeted him. As soon as he knew what room Vin was in, he raced at top speed to the room.

Different types of machines were all around, monitoring Vin's vital signs. Chris took a seat next to Vin's bed, determined not to leave.

+ + + + + + +

It had been one week and Vin was still in a coma. The doctor had told them that the longer Vin stayed that way, the lesser chance of surviving he had. Right now, his chances were barely 30 percent.

Chris's parents had told him about the accident. Vin had been coming home from school when it happened. He was just at the wrong place, at the wrong time. A drunk driver had been going 90 miles an hour and never even saw Vin until it was too late. Chris knew, by looking at what was left of Vin's bicycle, that the impact was hard.

+ + + + + + +

After a very heated fight with one of the nurses, Chris was allowed to stay past visiting hours. The pure thought of leaving Vin alone was unimaginable.

As he held Vin's hand, Chris realized just how fragile his adopted brother was. He used to think that life and death situations like this only happened on television. Never did he imagine that this would ever happen to his family.

It was a scary thing to think that Vin's life was barely hanging by a thread and that that thread might snap at any moment.

"Vin," he said quietly, "Can you hear me?" Expecting no answer, he carried on.

"You remember the day you finally rode the bike? You asked me not to let go, didn't you? Well Vin, I'm asking you to return the favor. You see, I'm on that bike now, and I don't think I'm ready yet. So don't let go, okay. Hold on, for me. Don't let go," Chris said, close to tears.

After a few seconds, a miracle began to unfold in front of Chris's eyes. First, it was a slight, nearly unnoticeable move of Vin's hand. Then, Vin's eyelids struggled to open. Finally, they did, revealing Vin's baby blue eyes as they stared groggily at Chris.

Chris nearly shouted out loud with joy at Vin's sudden change of condition. He raced out excitedly to grab the nearest nurse to inform her of Vin's condition. By the time he rushed back to the room, Vin was a little more oriented and even managed to send Chris one of his cute smiles.

3 weeks later

After a long and somewhat torturous hospital stay, Vin was pronounced fit to go home. It was a relief to both hospital staff and the Larabees as Vin was not one to be tied down.

At home, there was a mini welcome back party for Vin, with Buck dressed as a clown. Although Vin was still too weak to join in the games, he still enjoyed himself, especially when he found out that Buck had bought him a big box of chocolate.

That night, when everyone was about to go home, Vin managed to pull Chris aside and gave him a kiss.

Puzzled, Chris asked, "What was that for?"

"I heard you that night. Thanks for reminding me to hold on," replied Vin with a smile.

The end

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