BIANCA

Simon Longhi, M2, Class of 2025

♪♪

Oooo yooou can dance

You can jiiiive

Having the time of your life

Oooo see that girl

Watch that scene

Digging, the dancing queeeeenn

♪♪

 

My little sister spins around the room in her cracked, calloused bare feet, gloriously fanning out her wild, endlessly flowing curly hair – the envy of virtually all the many young women we’ve had work in our home to help care for her. Nobody dances like Bianca. Now into her 30s, Bianca still needs help going to the bathroom and cleaning herself. Bianca cannot talk, other than rudimentary “ma’s” and “ta’s” if she wants something like a car ride or a piece of candy. She may scream or cry at any time, anywhere between a disconcerting slow boil or a flat-out tantrum, or bang her hands on the table and exhibit other such self-injuring behavior without warning. Bianca has no concept of social norms – of danger when crossing a street, of knowing when to be quiet and be calm in public, of suppressing her inner urge to pinch us or lash out at us when she feels frustrated. Bianca has no hope of independence, not even close. She will need someone taking care of her 24/7 for the rest of her life. I grew up in a household that spoiled Bianca rotten, that revolved around giving her the most stable environment possible, of putting a numbing bandaid on that down-the-road, bleeding fear our family has always had of what would happen to her when my parents were gone.

But man, nobody dances like Bianca. 

Incomparable squeals and shrieks of delight come out as she spiritedly stamps her feet and swings her body around to rhythms only she feels, an absolutely innocent, gummy and toothy smile radiant on her face as she loses herself in the music. I’ll approach and try to dance with her too, but she’ll giggle at me and shove me away, because this washer dancefloor. Bianca is a beautiful force of nature. My mom, my dad, my brother and sister – even though Bianca has made our lives so hard and difficult to always make fair sense of – we all love her so much, because things like her dancing only scratched the surface of her essence, her vitality. There would be so many holes in our own lives if Bianca’s incredible energy wasn’t there to fill them. Now living half the country away from her, more separated and consumed by my own responsibilities with med school than I’ve ever been in my life, I still cannot help but see, hear, and feel Bianca in wherever I am and whatever I am doing. She is everywhere.

So as ABBA’s magnum opus ends on Bianca’s CD player blasting at its highest-possible volume, the next song on the album begins to play. Oh yeah, it’s another banger. The iconic, deliberate piano notes to start, the soaring ominous vocals slowly becoming audible, into “I don’t wanna talk….”

~*~*~*~

♪♪ “… about the things we’ve gone throuuuuugh” ♪♪

“Let’s do this, Simon,” I tell myself internally, “it’s just like you’re singing in the car.” I’m at Offkey Karaoke bar in Westport, with some M1 friends on a lower-stakes “Student Enrichment week” weekend. And yeah, that’s me singing. This is such a rush, I’ve been wanting to do this for a long, long time. I grew up with Bianca playing ABBA’s Greatest Hits on deafening repeat around the house, so I knew these words by heart.

♪♪

“The winner takes it allllllll

The loser’s standing smalllllll

Beside the victoryyyyyy

That’s, her destinyyyyyy”

♪♪

Occasional whoops and cheers and smiles from my friends fuel me as I just keep going for it, pushing my voice in a crescendo until the later verses where I’m really belting it out. The colorful dimmed lights of the suite swirl around me as I try to hold a long note. Some liquid courage coursing in my bloodstream no doubt, I could feel myself get a little dizzy, I’m really losing myself in it, smiling wide throughout the performance. That blissful wooziness, I thought, that must be something akin to what Bianca feels as she spins around furiously, what she craves. Hell yeah, this was so much fun. The song ends and my friends cheer and applaud. High fives all around and another swig of that grown-up beverage. These little escapes from the relentless stresses of med school itself, man they feel so, so good. The rest of the night was a blast, and the rest of my weekend was a welcome break before getting right back to it on Monday. 

A few days later, our M1 small group was up for a ZIEL Simulation session. Spiffy in our white coats as we walked together through the 4th floor of the Health Education Building, the simulation room became visible in front of us, complete with the hospital bed and oxygen nasal cannula on the wall and Crash cart and other ER-y paraphernalia. As we approached, the supine feet of the simulation manakin peeked out first from my view behind the door frame. Just those helpless feet. I could feel my breath quaver a little bit as I contained a memory-driven shudder… 

~*~*~*~

Senior year of high school, sometime in the late fall. Senior year was when I really came out of my shell, when I really found myself socially. It was early evening on a Friday night, and I felt great and energized as I was just about to get in my car to hang out and have a quiet poker night with my friends.

But, by that preceding summer, Bianca had developed epilepsy. She had several seizures by that point which I had never yet witnessed personally, and obviously it scared my parents to death for a while. Since they weren’t yet used to watching out for seizures, and since Bianca was non-verbal and could give us no real warning when a seizure was coming, I’d only been able to see the aftermath-bruising on Bianca’s face and arms and hands, as she would lose control of her body and fall violently onto a table or chair or the floor or wherever she was when the seizure decided to come.

So as I swung on my coat and jiggled my car keys in my hand approaching the garage door, in my peripherals I caught sight of Bianca’s feet laying on the kitchen floor. She was just lying there, unconscious. My mom was there sitting by her side, not hysterical but clearly shaken and tearful. A horrible guilty feeling of helplessness came over me. My mom always shouldered virtually the entire burden of taking care of Bianca, she never put any of that responsibility on me or my brother to watch her or cater to her. She struggled with her own feelings of guilt, of us not having a “normal” childhood, of constantly having to process the trauma and complications of living in a household dominated by the unrelenting phenomenon of autism.

“Oh my God, Mama, do you need me to stay?” To this day I feel so guilty for wording it this way, implying that I still wanted badly to just get out of there. This was me reverting to my usual escapism, to not face the pain.

“Oh hijito, no no don’t worry she’ll be okay, go, go be with your friends.”

I forced myself to give Bianca one longer look. Her lips were blue, and she was still taking deep irregular breaths. A paper towel lay there with some tinges of blood from biting her tongue. Her head lay on a pillow that my mom set there on the hardwood floor, and she lovingly caressed Bianca’s cheeks and shushed her like a baby to keep sleeping. It was all starting to hit me a little harder, I could feel the space behind my eyes well up.

“Are you sure, Mama?” I pushed out through the knot in my throat. 

Sí sí papito, you should go. We will be okay.”

So I left. I’ll never forget my whirlwind feelings during that drive. I turned up the saddest Coldplay and Dashboard Confessional songs on full blast and just screamed the lyrics the whole way. Not even crying somehow, but still just letting out everything I could. It’s one of those things in life that I and others may look back on and laugh at the morbid absurdity, the spectacle of me literally “Screaming Infidelities” in the car on the way to a poker game. But that’s only if you don’t have the full context behind all that. In my life, Bianca was always the context.

~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~

Several weeks later into M1 year now, onto the next Student Enrichment week. Heavy rain poured as I pulled into my parking spot in the Booth lot. I was set to shadow more ENT clinic visits that day, and it had been a pretty cool week of experience thus far. I walked quickly down the hill, not wanting to be out there long. As I approached Rainbow Boulevard from in front of Vista apartments, primed to jaywalk across like a pro, I didn’t notice that the water levels alongside the gutters were high and rushing. Suddenly, I could feel my socks soaking underneath my slightly submerged shoes. That splash and that sloshing, I looked down with a sigh, and my mind momentarily transported back to that dripping feet feeling from a previous time…

~*~*~*~

I’m not sure why I got so thirsty so early that morning. Back home on break with my parents and sisters in Florida before beginning med school, I got up from bed to get a drink of water. Just stepping into the kitchen and living room area, I suddenly felt my feet well up in wetness. Taking another step, I heard a strange splashing. Oh no.

I turned on the lights to see a huge snaking pool of water coming from Bianca’s bathroom. This wasn’t the first time this happened. Bianca rarely slept through the night soundly. Some combination of her autism and the side effects of her many medications made her restless and loud and disruptive at night. She also has many obsessive-compulsive behaviors; one of the furious habits she developed in her nights of insomnia was to repeatedly go to the bathroom to pee, if even only a single forced drop, use way too much toilet paper and stuff it into the toilet, and flush and flush and flush and flush. After she did this enough, dozens upon dozens of times, soon the toilet paper would clog the toilet, and water would overflow and flood the bathroom and beyond. Of course, a “normal” person would realize that this flooding was “bad”, and stop doing this repetitive flushing and try to clean up or tell someone something was wrong. But not Bianca; even now 30 years old, the pajamas she was wearing well beyond soaked, she still had no concept that flooding the house like this was a bad thing. Not even close.

By now we knew to customarily switch off the water on Bianca’s toilet before we all went to bed. But this time, my dad must have just forgotten. I knew it would break my mom’s heart to see that this happened again. So I did my best to quietly assemble all the bath towels in the house I could to dry up all this flooded water everywhere. Carpets were sopping and damaged, some boxes and food in the pantry were dripping; just throwing towels everywhere didn’t come close to totally drying everything. I absolutely didn’t want to wake my mom up as I tried to fix this. But I heard footsteps approaching as I bent down and wiped a towel already heavy with water across the floor.

“Oh no, Biancaaaa!” She said this with a contained, whispered scream of utter frustration, of shame of what she felt responsible for putting me through now. 

We could both hear Bianca still awake rolling around in her bed making her unique squealing noises. I didn’t have to say anything, we both knew how much this sucked. But my mom couldn’t just stand there and suffer it quietly this time. She rushed into Bianca’s room, and said a lot of words that Bianca could never fully absorb.

“What is wrong with you? What is WRONG WITH YOU!? You don’t do that Bianca, BIANCA, you DON’T DO THAT! LOOK AT THIS! LOOK AT THIS BIANCA! You are horrible, HORRIBLE! Why?! Why God? GOD WHY?! Why do you do this? Why DO YOU DO THIS!? Why!? Why!? WHY!? WHY!?”

Her sobbing grew with every sentence. My mom is the strongest person on the planet, but a few moments like this were bound to happen, where she simply could not stay so insanely unphased for us.

The rest of that day went on though. I kept cleaning up the best I could, and we eventually called a carpet cleaner to get everything truly dry. Industrial-sized drying fans lined the living area for a few days, and of course Bianca just stepped around them without a thought and went about her precious routines, having no understanding at all of the responsibility she had for putting us through all this. All she knew was that our faces were tired and upset, and she just said “ma” sheepishly to us, as if she were asking us illogically to just please switch our faces to happy mode. But our family got through that, just like we got through every bad day, every bad phase. Call it persevering, call it surviving, call it coping. I still don’t know what’s right really.

~*~*~*~

Having dried my shoes as well as I could in one of the ENT clinic bathrooms, I proceeded with shadowing clinic visits for the rest of the day. Great experience of course – wide range of patients that day, from the typical Meniere’s disease case to treating an atypical hyperparathyroidism presentation to planning a complicated tissue graft surgery for lingering gunshot wound damage to the lower jaw/upper throat. But the final patient that day was one I’ll always remember. We’ll call her Barbara, a 19yo 4’6’’ woman with Down’s Syndrome with a frustratingly painful ear infection. Her mother called that very day in the desperate hope that the clinic could squeeze her daughter into the schedule, which they did.

Barbara and her mother walked in late that day, and Barbara was slightly tearful, sort of whimpering and suffering as quietly as she could, touching her hand to her ear lightly over and over. Mom and the physician I was shadowing did their best to keep Barbara calm and comfort her, and the physician proceeded to explain to mom that we needed to get Barbara fully ready to be still and cooperative as we attempted to clean up her ear and administer the right meds to get her on track to feeling better.

Throughout all this conversation, Barbara kept trying to hug me and the physician, telling us that she loved us and that she wanted to go home. Mom kept redirecting her about it. Obviously, Barbara’s childlike innocence reminded me so much of Bianca, even though she was so much more gloriously verbal. But anyway, the time had come. The ENT physician approached Barbara in the examination chair with an otoscope.

“No no no no no no no no!” Barbara began to cry openly, turning to her mother. “Please please please please please please,” she kept stammering in fear. She reached out her right hand to her mother and gripped it, and then she reached out her left hand to me as I stood several feet away. Her mom tried to redirect her not to do that at first, but I followed my instinct and came closer and accepted Barbara’s invitation to take her hand. Her nervous, sweaty hand was so tiny, and she gripped my hand as tight as she could. Her skin was still so soft, with no bruises or callouses. It was so different from how Bianca liked to hold hands. Bianca’s hands, while delicate and dainty when unblemished, were usually bruised and swollen and calloused from her self-injuring repetitive banging behavior. And when Bianca held my hand, she always liked to dig her fingernails into the inside of my finger joints, flexing and extending them repeatedly. Yes, it did hurt after a while, but getting to have some affectionate physical contact with Bianca without her immediately pushing away (she never accepted a hug for more than a couple seconds), it was something I cherished. I had to.

So yes, we got Barbara through that clinic visit. Her mother was tearful throughout the encounter, profusely grateful for the compassionate way the physician and I treated Barbara. I obviously felt many big feelings about all this. I thought about how rewarding a good clinic visit was, how much I wanted to feel this gratification as much as possible in my future career. I thought about what a gentle soul I got to experience with Barbara. And of course, I thought of Bianca. 

~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~

Leaves turning orange into M2 year now. Way earlier of a Saturday morning than I’d prefer, but I was just about to leave to Denver for the wedding of an old high school friend that day. Should be fun, right? I committed to going months ago with that fate-sealing click on ‘Purchase’ on booking.flyfrontier.com, so of course a big part of me now was worried about embarking on this escape in the middle of two-week exam block on neurology, a subject that was proving really difficult for me. 

I almost never eat breakfast (no, not that I’m proud of that), but I knew I couldn’t be on such an empty stomach traveling when only some scarfed-down McDonald’s was in my near future for a quick lunch. So walking into the kitchen, in a bit of a rush as I set down my laptop bag while donning my suit-jacket (Frontier wasn’t about to charge me $60 for a carry-on bag I didn’t even need for a one-day trip, nuh-uh, no way), I opened the pantry and reached up to my box of Fruity Pebbles. Drowsy and stumbly no doubt, the cereal box slipped out of my grip as I brought it down, but with ninja-like reaction speed I managed to snatch it out of the air.

With how sudden the movement was, my hands crushed that flimsy recycled cardboard of the box. Grasping it, feeling the little breaks and wrinkles in the cardboard and looking down at its slightly crumpled state, I could feel it happening again, like a shivering breeze billowing up through my body. A memory came rushing back….

~*~*~*~

Sleeping in on another break back with the family in Orlando. The pseudo- guest room where I slept always let in an ungodly amount of Florida sunshine, so I was already tossing around a bit, just trying to doze off again. The day was set to be a low-key one – being able to have a day with legitimately nothing concrete planned, where you can just exist without any worry of what needs doing, man, that’s underrated. But anyway, soon I heard some muffled commotion in the kitchen.

“Bianca, please. Bianca, let go.”

I could hear Kristal (a young 20-something grad school student who was our main extra-help caretaker of Bianca at the time, she was awesome) calmly plead with Bianca, somewhere between mustered-up confidence and surprised fear. I always wanted to let the people that helped with Bianca run the show their way, I’d never want to intervene or critique too rashly, so I kept lying in bed to let whatever was happening happen, and hopefully it would simmer down on its own. But after just a little bit–

“Simon, are you awake? Can you help?”

Kristal never actually asked for my help like this before. I stepped out in my pajamas and found Bianca standing at the pantry next to her. I could see scratches forming on Kristal’s left arm as Bianca was grabbing her there tightly, squeezing and pinching every few seconds or so. You would think Bianca’s face would show some outward anger or frustration, but it was nothing conventional like that really. Her eyes alone were honestly sort of vacant, but it was more a prickling tension in her facial muscles, rigidness dispersing throughout her body that let you know she was… alterada (only the Spanish word really captures it for me here).

Kristal was holding a box of Frosted Chocolate Mini-Wheats cereal in her hand, and clearly that was the object of Bianca’s hyper-fixation here. Still under Bianca’s grip, Kristal explained calmly to me that they were just finishing Bianca’s usual breakfast routine of toast then cereal then orange juice then putting-things-away, but this time, Bianca got the rushing, out-of-the-norm idea that she wanted more of a different cereal. So Bianca jumped to the pantry and grabbed that box herself, breaking the usual rules. 

In caring for Bianca, my family has long strived to set strict limits to what Bianca asks for and actually gets – this way, we could smooth out her erratic behavior, teach her to live by the calmer rules of the whole household and not just her raw desires, and actually keep her healthy and not cavity-ridden and weighing 300 pounds from the junk food she was never too shy to ask for. Yes, Bianca was very autistic, but not stupid in the least – if we ever gave in to any of her “extra” requests, she would push and manipulate that for all it’s worth, setting back all the progress we’ve tried to make in making her more functional and learn to co-exist with others in the house without disruptive, suffocating behaviors.

So that’s what Kristal was doing here – she knew that if we gave in to Bianca’s extra demand with the cereal, it would be a frustrating departure from the hard-earned structure we created for Bianca to make her more tolerable and pleasant to live with. When all of us were gone, and God-knows-who would be taking care of Bianca, we want her to be treated with love and kindness, and maybe us making her more pleasant to live with could help with that. That was the hope anyway. So, when Kristal tried to take the box back to the pantry, Bianca grabbed her arm and wouldn’t let go, despite Kristal’s pleading. This was strange; Bianca hadn’t been so outright defiant and aggressive in a very long time. This fierce hyper-fixation seemed to come from nowhere. So the hope was that Bianca might listen to me.

Kristal gave me the cereal box, and Bianca then immediately grabbed my arm. As calm and authoritatively as possible, I said “Bianca, please. Pau-pau, no more cereal. Please. No more.”

This whole time, Bianca is actually silent, eerily so. But it doesn’t hide that stewing, that rigidness coursing through her body. She won’t listen to me. I try verbally to convince her a few more times, no progress. Total standoff. The few times past that Bianca has been stubborn being refused something like this, whether it be an extra car ride or staying up another hour to watch YouTube or an extra piece of birthday cake, I’d seen my parents just be suddenly forceful and put their foot down, and of course Bianca would start to cry and scream like the world had just ended, but that would be the end of it. So here I decided to super-quickly rip my arm away from Bianca’s grip, open the pantry door and try to put the cereal back, and hopefully make Bianca just poutingly move on from that fixation.

She didn’t.

Bianca fought me with everything she had. She kept pulling me and pulling me away from the door, and when I’d get too close in trying to push away her hands, she’d squeeze and pinch my arms or my neck or wherever she could grab as hard as she could. I could feel scratches forming on my neck and face from Bianca’s fingernails as we struggled. This whole thing didn’t last more than 10 or 15 seconds, but it felt like an eternity. I couldn’t quite bring myself to believe that Bianca was doing this right now. I was fully tensed-up and skin red and flushed and holding my breath throughout, expecting it to be over soon, praying it could be over soon. Kristal was there pleading with Bianca to stop too, and at one point I couldn’t help but scream “FUCK! COME ON!” in incredulous, defeated desperation, not really at Bianca at all, more so at God. I had to stop.

So we stopped. Bianca and I just stood there now. Heat totally flushing my face, I was truly out of breath, panting, getting tearful. I looked at Bianca, and it struck me immediately how out-of-breath she was too, panting deeply, like a cheetah that just got done running 70 miles per hour. It pains me that I still make this comparison now, but it’s me being honest – seeing Bianca like that, it really was like she was a wild animal, not even a human being. Not even seeing Bianca as human – as a child growing up, that was a guilt-ridden frustration I fought with often to make sense of my world. Still that vacant look in her eyes, but now we had literally fought like wild animals, I could see how alive she was, but in this tragic, totally primal way. Her physical exhaustion, her chest heaving in and out, hearing that heavy breathing air pour through her reddened face and lips and veins popping out from her neck. It was only in the course of a second or so that I took in all these tragic, swirling things, before it occurred to me that I had to move on from this.

Bianca would have to win. We decided to pour just the tiniest bit of that cereal into Bianca’s bowl, and she accepted that and moved on with her day. Again, she acting like not much had happened at all. Totally wedded to the rest of her daily routine now, not realizing at all the gravity of the human clash that just occurred.

As Bianca went off to watch Nick Jr. commercials on YouTube for the next couple of hours, I looked in the mirror and saw the bruises around my neck, a fresh slightly-bleeding scratch across my forehead. Looking down at my arms too, more scratches. I cleaned up and talked with my mom about it later that day. We hadn’t quite realized it at the time, but with Bianca having recently started a new anti-seizure medication, her aggression here could maybe be partly explained by that unfortunately common side effect. But, with the new medication, her seizures also happened to be the most well-controlled and infrequent that they had ever been. So that was the cruel, trade-off choice we were making.

That cereal box was a crumpled mess. It sat in our pantry for a couple more days with what little cereal was still left in it. A grotesque monument to Bianca and I’s wrenching, life’s-not-fair struggle. Ugh, I wish I had a better way to close this part of the piece. Life’s just not fucking fair.

~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~

Denver was beautiful. It had snowed just two days prior, but most of it had melted, and this lunch-time weather was an absolutely perfect 60 degrees now. The train from the airport to downtown was delayed about an hour, but I didn’t mind. I had given myself a little time before the ceremony would start, and with the sun shining out on that outdoor platform, I gave my pale, locked-up-inside-studying med-student complexion some healthy color and Vitamin D.

I didn’t really know anyone in this wedding. The groom was an old friend of mine from high school, and we kept in touch about every couple years maybe. The venue for the ceremony was literally up a mountain apparently, and we were to take a special bus from the hotel everyone was at to get there. So, dapper in my suit, I stepped onto the bus among virtual strangers, a bit shy out the gates. But of course, the occasion was a joyous one, and the scenery up the mountain was really stunning, so conversation was nice and lively all the way up. The strangest secluded cabins and quirky barn-homes rolled past us as we wound our way up that bumpy, spiraling mountain road; patches of still-melting snow lined some rocky cliffs and other open areas untouched by much civilization. I loved taking in a new place, I loved traveling, I loved absorbing an experience like this without any other worry creeping in. Already, this trip was so worth it. 

The grandiose barn venue became visible before us, with the backdrop of a small lake and the snow-capped Rocky Mountains overlooking. I could peek inside the open double-doors of the barn and see how beautifully everything was set up for the ceremony, this was going to be a fun night. As I stepped off the bus, I was careful to step around some slightly muddy wet spots, areas with some of that snow still melting on it. Walking up to the barn, I kept to a sort of unofficial well-trampled path, an inviting ground with tiny whisps of bright green grass sticking out of formerly-wet but now-hardened mud. I stopped in my shoes for just a second. A rush, but a different one this time. Nostalgia, warm feelings, purpose, fate. That ground transported me. 

~*~*~*~

Four years ago, back in Orlando with the family. I’m on an unofficial day off from my self-imposed regimen of MCAT studying. Bianca was doing pretty well, going three days per week to OCA, a day program that aspired to do some vocational training for adults with developmental disabilities; of course, in reality, this program most immediately served to give overworked families like ours a blessed break from unrelenting caretaking duties from 9am to 2pm.

Yes, my mother really tried to not have me shoulder much of the burden of caring for Bianca. But picking her up from OCA and driving her back home, we figured I could do that. When I first started doing it, Bianca found it kind of funny, as I ran the routine-show pretty differently – of getting her seatbelt on and putting on her usual music and getting her to spit out her gum in my napkin and not on the floor of the car. But we got her used to all that. It went fine. I quite enjoyed it actually. Escaping from MCAT hell to boot.

So it was good feelings as I stepped out of my car to walk up to the building where Bianca was waiting for me. She stamped outside with a staff person just as I approached. Yes, this was good-phase Bianca. She had a serene, pursed-lip smile on her face. Every now and then she’d grunt out an unprompted giggle, like she just thought of something really funny in that curly-haired head of hers and couldn’t contain herself.

“Bianca was great today! Look, she drew this.”

The staff person handed me a piece of white construction paper with many more colors than the rainbow scribbled wildly all over. Bianca’s abstract art is pretty next-level, honestly.

So I thanked her, and Bianca let go of her arm and grabbed onto mine; Bianca preferred arm-holding to hand-holding sometimes. As we started to walk back on the gravel, the very slightest of rain and wetness started to fall. Typical Orlando stuff. But Bianca wasn’t having that. She turned away from the gravel now and took a more direct path toward the car, now running slightly and trying to pull me along, in her way urging me to keep up. This was all my mom. Her imprints were all over my sisters’ personalities, what made them “little Jenny”, as we liked to say. My mom will run to the car at the slightest provocation of rain, and soon enough, Bianca learned to do the same thing whenever rain came.

We were off the gravel now. Instead, Bianca and I scampered on this unofficial well-trampled path, an inviting ground with tiny whisps of bright green grass sticking out of formerly-wet but now-hardened mud. The way that ground felt, it was memorable, it was único. I promise you, it was.

Bianca let out a delighted shriek as we ran; when she suddenly took off like this, whilst making her funny, wonderful sounds, it always reminded me of doves. You know how when you see doves crowding around in some park somewhere, and then a child rushes up upon them, and you hear the doves’ lovely high-pitched cooing as they fly away? That was Bianca. Bianca was the doves.

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