Life Support

January 7, 2008
By Katie Steiger, Apalachicola, FL

Don't you cry, Jinxi.

Don't you dare shed a tear for me!

I gazed at his limp hand, his dead hand. I didn't cry but I yelled, I screamed, screeched in woe, in anger, in everything. My best friend had hung himself. Furiously I scrambled up the tree and cut the rope. "Ted!!" I heard somebody cry, suddenly Auggie was galloping down the street to my dead friend; I jumped out of the tree and bit my lip. Aug was on the ground now, on top of Ted, weeping into his shoulder. "Jinx, he's dead. He's dead, Jinxi! He's gone, he's gone! Ted! Jinx! Ted's gone. He's dead, he's gone. He's dead!"

My lip trembled furiously, now. I swallowed. Don't you cry, Jinxi. Don't you dare shed a tear for me! I stared at his dead body now, then my body shook and Hell broke loose, I screamed. I yelled at my deceased friend. "How can I not cry?" I screamed at the sallow, still form on the ground. "You idiot! What were you thinking! Ted you moron! What were you thinking? Why Ted?!" I collapsed at his head as Auggie continued chanting "Jinx, he's dead. He's dead, Jinxi! He's gone, he's gone! He's dead, he's gone. He's dead!"

I put his head in my lap and stroked his hair. I noticed his green eyes were still open. Those beautiful emeralds were empty now, once they'd been filled with mischief, always had a nefarious twinkle. Filled with this humor, they'd helped him make out with half the girls in the school. They made me love him more than a friend, once, now they were cold, apathetic. Not full of life and hopeful for the future. I closed those terrible eyes. A cold, icy feeling swept through my body and I was numb, devoid of any possible emotion.

I sat there and stroked his head for awhile, Aug sobbing on his chest. I knew this was my best friend, he was dead, and I had to touch him. Some lady came out and screamed, I ignored her. We'd been sitting for hours, I think, but it felt like on time had elapsed. It was just the three of us, my numb self, the corpse of a beloved Ted, and my shattered friend. I only became conscious when the police tried to pick me up. I fought them and eventually lost, as I sat in the station, a blanket covering me, dug in my pocket.

"Jinxi, don't read this until Sunday. I need you to read this Sunday night." Ted gave me a note and I gave him a quizzical look. "Jinxi, just do it, please." He unleashed the full force of his eyes on me, I couldn't say no.

"Of course," I smiled.

It was Sunday night. It's hard to believe just last night at the arcade he gave me this after playing ski ball. I opened it.

I am so sorry, Jinxi! We've got AIDs and it's my fault. I'll always love you and Augg. I'm sorry, but you'll both have it easier when I'm gone, so this is sayonara. I'll die anyway from this disease. I've noticed I've been getting paler anyway. I'm sorry I gave you Hell, Jinx. Tell Auggie that too, tell him I'm sorry to him through this, you through this.

Good bye love! I'll miss you.

<3 Ted, Ski ball champ.

Ski ball champ! He made it sound like a joke! Damnit Ted! Damint! It's too hard not to cry! It's too hard, too hard Ted! I can't bare it! "Ted!" I exclaimed, then I let the tears fall, looking up to the heaven's, past the stupid white washed ceiling I called, "AIDs! Ted! We could've fought it together! Ted! You could survive and live with AIDs! You idiot!" Tears streamed down my face as I sobbed now, drawing in ragged breathes. Augg was next to me, I just gave him the note and sobbed on his shoulder. Auggie had cried himself dry, but I hear choked, tearless sobs now, like hiccups.

"Jinxi." Augg said his voice hoarse, He held me closer, stroking my brown hair and we just sat there, crying. They say you never really realize the important moments in your life for what they are. I didn't see that day as change, as a way to pick up the pieces, to start a new beginning. I still don't. I saw it as tragedy, as hell. Still do. We were released and I bid good night to Auggie. It was weird, but it was like we'd grown too far apart after that morning. I opened the door and saw my mom, dad, and four brothers stuffing their faces.

"Where've you been, Jinxi?" Mom snapped, "gone all day, dropped off by a cop! What'd you do this time? Jinxi! Look at me when I'm talking to you! What've you been doing?"

I would not cry in front of my family. They didn't deserve to see it. Before I could answer Charlie said, "she was probl'y hanging out with her Teddy Bear boyfriend, mwa mwa mwa," he puckered his lips and made fake kisses. Mom glared icily, I strode over and grabbed a biscuit and shoved it into his mouth. As he started choking I heard my other siblings laugh and the scrape of a chair against the floor.

"Jinxi! Don't you dare do that to your brother!" Mom yelled. "Answer me Jinxi! I asked a question, and when I do that, you answer!"

"Ted killed himself you ol' hag! Leave ma alone!" I stormed out and galloped to my room, locked the door and flopped on my bed, I spent the night staring at the ceiling and letting Jimmy, my youngest brother with whom I shared the room, sleep on the couch. I'd locked myself in there for hours, maybe even days, all time seemed to have stopped, I refused to eat, to drink, hoping I'd join Ted. Eventually I woke to Charlie, Dad, Victor, and Joey ramming the door in.

After I'd screamed and kicked and yelled like a five year old I can't recall much. After that though, if this were a movie there'd be scenes flicking by with Hey There Delilah by Plain White Tee's playing the background. The first scene would be Charlie and Victor dragging me into school as I punched and fought them with all my might and student's staring. After that would be me chewing my pencil at lunch as a boy with a short black ponytail pointed to the page in my math book. Cut to me at a Life Support meeting, talking about AIDs. The next one would be Auggie and I staring out the bus windows in opposite directions, then my mom giving me a hard time, cut to me stalking off. Cut to me and the black haired beauty at lunch, him touching my arm soothingly, cut to me throwing a tantrum and the teacher pointing to the door, cut to me laughing with the ponytail man (later known as Winslow.)

Cut to me sobbing on Auggie's shoulder as they lowered Ted into the grave, my family staring gloomily in the background. Then finally cut to me finishing my math homework with Winslow, taking off the headphones as the song ended. I was at his house this time, rather than school. I dug my hand in my pocket, touching Ted's note, I'd carried it since that day. It felt as if I carried some part of him with me, that this small note was the only thing that kept me sane, "Why do you always do that?" Winslow asked

"Do what?" He pointed at my hand. Winslow and I had become close, extremely close. I grabbed the note out of my pocket, "it's the last thing he," my voice cracked, "gave me." I closed my eyes and 3 small sobs came from my mouth. Winslow hugged both my shoulders and pulled me closer. He'd been helping me cope. That was the problem though; I didn't want to be close. To any one, because I knew I'd die young from AIDs, the only one who knew of my AIDs was Auggie, and the people at Life Support. Life Support... I was drawn out of my thoughts by a realization it was 6:55 and Wednesday. "Sh**!" I said, jumping out of his hold. I grabbed my coat and book.

"What'd I do now? Are you not goin' t' talk to me or anyone for weeks again? I'm sorry, did you-" Winslow started, he knew my normal thing. If I freaked I'd clam up, not go near anyone, attempting to distance myself, the only conversations I'd had with my family was where you going? And my reply out.

"Your fine, Low, I've just got a thing. Can you give me a ride to community center?" He gave me a quizzical look but I ignored him. He sighed and got up. As we walked thought the living his parents beckoned me over, c'mon I was in a hurry!

"Are you leaving already, dear?" His mom asked. I nodded, she cupped my face and said, "Oh, will you grab a snack on the way out, you look so pale. I don't want you sick, sweetie." I smiled weakly and nodded. She was so nice, like the mom I never had, well the one that didn't yell at me for everything. "Jinxi, come back soon." I smiled and waved goodbye to her and her husband. Sadly we'd become close too, so when this disease killed me they'd be hurt to.

I didn't want anyone to suffer as much as I've been with Ted. What was he thinking when he did that anyway? We'd be fighting it together; instead I was giving into it. We drove into the center's parking lot, I opened the door to have Winslow grip my arm. "Your not going until I know why you always disappear every Wednesday. You always run off, is this where you go?"

I sighed on the inside, Low had been good about not asking questions, letting me be, but I guess after awhile you get to curious. "I'm going to a Life Support meeting," I said hoarsely. He raised a brow, "it helps me cope," helps me make it another day. Without saying another word he got up and took my hand, "please, Low, c-can I do this by myself?"

He sighed, "Only if you tell me one more thing," after a moment of silence I nodded, "you've got something, don't you? Some disease? Is that why you're always sick, and pale?" Win's voice was strong but at the end it turned to pleading, and hurt. Oh no! I'd hurt him, I didn't want to hurt anyone! "It's why you're afraid to be close to me, you've got cancer or something, right?"

I summed up my small bit of courage and in a small, shaky voice, one not even above a whisper I said, "I have AIDs." Next thing I knew I was in a bone crushing embrace and a deep kiss. A deep, passionate kiss.

It's been about a year since..., well, you know, and I'm alive and safe, me and Winslow are a couple now. I go to Auggie's everyday after school, but there's still a wall there. I'm in my senior year of high school, and next year I plan to go straight to collage and become a doctor so I can hopefully find a cure. Until then I take it day by day. I live day by day, like they're all my last, even if it means being close to people, that just shows I'm loved.

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