There was never any time to pause. Buried in homework, zits, boys and my never expanding A-cup, I never once slowed down, looked around and saw all those things that surrounded me. You tend to assume that there will be time for all that later, that peace enters after years of hard work, in a perfect country house with kids and more than one car.
I thought that I would have the time to be able to pick flowers in the summer to put under my pillow, in order for my prince to appear. That I one day would walk barefoot in summer rain and breathe the air you only see actors breathe on film. But all those opportunities had been snatched away from me, and every single thing I’ve wanted to do later will never be done. All dreams I packed in bags and stocked on my attic for future travels will be left there, forgotten and covered in thick layers of dust.
Some claim that the world becomes much more beautiful and astonishing after a death sentence. It’s so easy to be naïve and believe that everything will stay the same, and not appreciate the beauty that surrounds you. It’s too easy to forget that everything can change in less than the second it takes to end someone’s life.
My world had always been beautiful, and its beauty never stops to surprise me, but now, it also reminds me that I will no longer be able to be a part of it. It’s meant for someone else.
The knowledge that my life will end long before others and that both generations prior to my birth will survive me, leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. The same taste you get after throwing up in the toilet when you weak with the flu. Imagining my mum and dad, grandma and grandpa standing by my grave as it is lowered into eternal darkness – tastes like throwing up again and again.
You ask me how I am. You’re the only one I do not share blood with who knows. Perhaps you’re also the only one who dares to ask. To stubbornly inquire aloud.
Upon seeing you, all I want to do is throw myself around you, squeeze you so hard and so long that people might stop and stare. But I don’t. Neither do I step closer, but instead scrape the top of my shoe against the concrete. I do that, not too often, but often enough for the shoe to have gained a permanent scar. Though, my manoeuvre doesn’t work on you. You stare and stare until I can’t help myself from meeting your gaze. Then I answer your question:
– I’ve never fallen through the ice, but I imagine this is how it feels. That the safe surface suddenly breaks and you fall into a dark and foreign deep – without anyone being able to drag you up again.
You continue to stare in silence at my words. Then you take a deep breath, grip my hand and say:
– Let’s skip.
It’s the last day of school before the vacation for her, but for me it’s the last day of school ever in this life. Her hand gripping mine is strong and we wander across the school yard together, done so many times that we have developed an almost identical way of walking. A few drops of water hit my neck, and I realized that you smelled the rain long before it started. I’ve never been able to feel that, but imagine that the rain hammering against the concrete is among the best of smells.
– There isn’t much time left, I say.
– I know.
I hear the tension in your voice. How you try to be calm and steady, trying to shoulder the part you know no one else around me has been able to. But it’s difficult to be an adult, especially since neither of us really is.
– I feel it, you continue. In my blood. How yours that previously made me strong is weakening, and is weakening me as well.
We sit down on our rock in a clearing in the forest. A few years ago it appeared huge, but has shrunk as we have grown. There was wisdom in the rough, uneven surface; a dear childhood friend, a keeper of secrets and the only place where I dare to be honest.
– I’m afraid. I’m afraid of death and having to confront it. I’m afraid I won’t have the time to do all the things I want to do. Scared that my dreams will shatter like glass. I’m terrified that I won’t be able to change the world.
Another drop hits the rock, and then the rain is pouring down on us. In a second we’re soaked, and there’s no way of telling if the water on our faces are tears.
– I’m also scared, you answer. I’m scared of living without you.
I wish I could comfort you. Say that I’ll always be there, somehow. But the words get caught in my throat and no sound leaves my lips. For some part of me don’t want to comfort you with words that might not be true. Even though I’m about to die, I do not hold any secret knowledge or have any clarity of what happens next. If there’s a heaven, if I’ll be reincarnated or if everything just stops and my body is left to rot in the ground. All I have is fear and thousands of tears I only let out in my loneliness at night. What I have is uncertainty.
We sit silent in the rain. I close my eyes and take a few deep breaths. If I try hard I can almost hear every single drop landing. Maybe I would never take that barefoot stroll they take in films, but I would have this, and I would have you.
In one quick movement we’re suddenly tightly clasped together, in a tangled embrace. With controlled fear you hold me, and I worry that the control only exists because you like me solely grieve in private.
I want to free you. Not to see you contain your grief and hopelessly search for a cure. I don’t want you to see me sick and weak and nothing like myself. What I want you to remember is us as we have always been, and especially today; drenched on our rock in our plain summer dresses.
– You’re the one who’s important, I whisper into her hair and ear. You’re the one that I love.
She understands and let go, reluctantly. We don’t need any farewells; our time together is too much grand to finish with one word.
– If there’s a heaven, and they make you into an angel, she whispers just as I’m about to leave. Promise me, that you’ll come get me when it’s my turn.
I turn back slowly, just this once I will make a promise I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep.
– I promise.
Then I leave, prepared for the part of leaving that will not be near as beautiful but far from as painful as this.
Notes: This is a very old short story with many faults, especially grammatical ones. But Laura wanted us to upload something.