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Small Things | Hannah Weiss

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Dana always tried to save everything. Ever since she was a kid, she did her best to make
everyone happy. She’d share juice boxes during daycare, make cupcakes with mom for the
class in kindergarten, and spend hours helping her friends study in elementary school. She was
selfless, always looking on the positive side for a good force in the world, and most of the time,
she could find it in herself.
Hallie was jealous. Not of her little sister’s kindness, but of her innocence. She was in
the eighth grade and still believed everything could be saved with enough hope, trust, and pixie
dust. Hallie didn’t know why she herself had gotten so cynical so early. Maybe it was the stress
of high school, or the responsibility of being sixteen, or maybe the importance of the near future
that kept getting closer with every day. She couldn’t understand how Dana could not notice the
brutal reality of anything at all.
It had snowed two nights ago and rained the next, leaving the ground coated slick with
ice. Hallie’s boots slid on it like skates as the two girls walked over to the hill, Dana gulping and
whining the whole way. Tiny tears rolled down her cheeks as they went, and Hallie pretended
not to notice she was crying at all, focusing on the heavy box in her two hands.
They’d found a cat on their doorstep about a week ago. An unknown stray with matted,
ugly fur and a pattern of bruises and cuts that their mom had begged them to throw back into
the street. But Dana had taken it upstairs instead, wrapping it in a blanket and promising she
could make it better, nurse it back to health like she’d seen others do. Hallie knew she couldn’t
save it, but she couldn’t stop her if she’d tried.
It was dead now, but that wasn’t what mattered. What mattered was the noise Dana
made when she found it this morning, breathless and still like a ripped ball of cloth. How broken
her whine had been, like a teacup that had finally been knocked off the table, and lay in little
sharp pieces on the cold, hard ground.

Neither sister said anything to each other as they walked over towards the hill. Dana
took the box as Hallie smashed the shovel against the ice, stabbing a deep enough slit in it to
start digging.
“You knew it wasn’t going to last long, Dana,” she said as she heaved the shovel
through. “Mom told you not to try.”
“But it was so helpless.” Dana choked. “I couldn’t have just left it there, could I?” She
wiped her nose as she started to mumble. “I bet that’s what you would’ve done.”
“I wouldn’t have. You know that.” Hallie sighed. Her and her sister never saw eye-to- eye
on anything. They both disliked each other for reasons neither fully understood. She had no
idea if they would ever be able to turn this around before it was too late for either of them.
Hallie kept digging the hole as Dana kept sniffling. It was difficult to do it for her – Hallie
had argued that Dana should take all the responsibility for her cat, but something had made her
come and help dig the poor thing’s grave. She wasn’t sure why – familial responsibility, maybe –
but it didn’t feel like such hard work as she listened to her sister’s tears. Somehow, her sadness
fuelled her. Pushing her towards something with its own force.
“Did you name it?” she asked Dana, who nodded.
Hallie opened her mouth to scold her sister, but stopped before any words could get out.
The ice underneath her feet seemed to freeze her to the ground, and she felt the cold seep
through her coat and clothes underneath. She shivered to shake it off, and as she did, she felt
like she’d shaken something into place even further underneath.
“Do you…do you want to say goodbye?”
Dana didn’t answer at first, and Hallie was about to apologize before she burst into tears.
Within a second, her arms were wrapped around Hallie’s torso, and she was clutching her like a
stuffed animal in the middle of a dark, terrifying nightmare.
“It’s okay, Dana. Please don’t feel bad.”
“I tried so hard, Hallie.”
“I know.” Hallie reached down to hug her back. “You always do.”
She realized something about her little sister in that moment. Hallie still couldn’t wrap her
whole head around her innocence, but she knew that if she couldn’t end it, she had to uphold it.
There was something wonderful about being able to keep positive in times of darkness. If
anything, the world needed more people like Dana.
“We can ask mom for a cat,” Hallie said when Dana finally let go. “One that you can take
care of all on your own.”
“I still feel bad about this one.” Dana sniffled.

“It’s okay. You tried your best.”
“You aren’t mad at me anymore?” Dana asked, and Hallie shook her head.
“Not right now. We don’t need any more sadness today.” Hallie said, and took the box
from Dana, placing it into the small hole in the ground. She knew that this moment alone
wouldn’t be enough to turn the whole world around for her and her sister, but it was a start. And
a start was all Hallie could be happy with.

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