I woke from a pain-riddled sleep on August 7th. I rolled over and vomited clear-yellow bile onto the floor. Fear iced in my stomach, and I looked down quickly to check for blood. I saw minimal traces of it, and I sighed in resigned shock. I was surprised I didn't start screaming my head off. The anemia was winning. Oh, God, I am only 14. There is so much I have to do. I need to do. What about getting on TV, breakups, kids, publishing a book? I prayed these things silently, listening to the nearby muted roar of the waves at high tide. I slipped on my favorite dark skinny jeans, which now looked incredibly baggy on my rapidly shrinking frame, pulled on a tank top, and snuck out of my little room and onto the beachouse patio. I checked a clock before I left. It was 1:21 in the morning. Dad was snoring in the kingsize bed, and mom tossed around next to him, making loud creaking noises. I padded silently down the boardwalk, passing the inky black lizards which come onto the wooden planks at night to hunt, and in the day to sun. I remembered a time where I was strong enough and quick enough to catch them. We would put them in a cage for a few days, watch what they did, and then let them go. Some must have remembered me, because they leaped off the railings and back into the beach shrubbery. I smile. I kew I had reached the stairs when I felt a thin layer of sand over the worn old planks. I stepped down, sinking my feet into the crisp, cold sand. I let it slide between my toes, poking them up from the sand one by one. I had painted them green. This was one of the many things I would miss. Little things like overused family jokes and painted nails and your annoying music teacher. You think they're a pain, but when you have less than three months to go, you realize that everything, the good, the bad, and the crappy, are all part of something. They make up your life. I walked over one of the dune hills, and when I nearly tripped on something sticky and small, I let out a small cry. Peering down, moonlight distinguished a tiny loggerhead turtle hatchling. I gasped, horrified that I may have killed it, but it just gave me a peevish look and kept searching for mother ocean. I stared down at it's feeble body, pushing through soft sand and stopping to rest often. So on a terminal person's impulse, I picked it up, walked down to the water's edge, and set the very distressed hatchling down. It opened its mouth with distaste, and I laughed. I hadn't laughed in a long time. I sounded hollow, like a gourd with holes in it, air rushing from every pore.The turtle then was sucked out by the next wave. My little companion, the only thing I'd ever known with life as fragile as mine. "Bye," I said quietly, and then I sat. I lay down and watch the stars. I found the big dipper, and I was searching for Draco when I heard a familiar voice. It was James. He lived in the beachouse 3 doors down, and we had always been very best friends. He was handsome, and sometimes I wished we were more than pals. Even anemia can't take away girl trouble. "Em, what are you doing out here?" He said, and he plopped down beside me. "I have less time than I thought," I said. His face fell; it aged 20 years. "How long?" he said hoarsely. I looked down at my hands. They were white, like things from the deep sea. "I dunno, a month, if I'm lucky. I threw up blood. The doctors say when that happens, you've got a month." I was beyond the point of crying. I could feel my heart running in overdrive, and just wished I could tell my body to stop killing itself. It was ironic, with that hummingbird heart of mine, that while it beat all the harder, the more precious energy it was wasting. I leaned into his shoulder, my favorite pillow, and he put an arm around me. "Oh, Emily... oh," he muttered slowly, and there was more pain in his voice than words can describe. We sat like that for awhile, just taking in my words. I remembered all the things I wanted to do. It seemed pointless now. Climb a mountain? See the Aurora Borealis? My body couldn't handle a moderate hill. But I wasn't just going to do nothing. That was like letting the disease win completely. Laying down and surrendering. The least I could do would be to have my last stand, my defiance to my captor. "James... can I have a kiss?" I whispered. I could feel his breathing stop, feel his heart beat stutter, then increase. He looked down at me, back to the ocean, over to his beachouse, back to me. "I had so much I wanted to do before I died, but with it coming faster and harder now, the least I can do is get my first last kiss." This time, James didn't look away. He looked straight at me. "Of course I'll give you your first last kiss," he said, and then our lips met. It was unreal. It wasn't like in a love novel, where you go into the fancy rambling about electricity in your veins and much more, but the unreality of it was how normal it was. His lips were soft, mine were thin and cracked. He kissed my upper lip softly, grabbing it lightly with his teeth. I felt his warm breath inside my mouth. He hugged me close, and then I let the tears go. He just held me, kissed me, told me I was brave. I felt one of his hands in my thin, scraggly hair, and I knew I had stood up to death now. The tears ceased flowing. I had stood up to death now. I had done something. I had had my first last kiss.
First Last Kiss
July 15, 2009