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Affliction part 2
Too soon he lets go. Too soon the moment ends. I look up to his face and realize just how concerned he really is.
“Thanks for always being there,” I say.
Grinning, he answers, “Anytime you need me, I’ll be there. Really, it’s no problem at all.”
There was a pause.
“So I’ll see you at school?” Niki says, sensing my need to escape.
“Yeah. Sure. See you at school,” I tell him, grateful for his understanding.
“I’ll tell your parents you went home,” he replies.
I give him a small smile in thanks and relief, then walk past him and to the elevator.
I run home, tears spilling out of my eyes, I focus on the burn in my lungs and legs; trying to ignore what just happened. I pass all the familiar landmarks filled with so many happy memories. The park, the forest, and all the houses of everyone I know.
I turn into our yard, run in our house and upstairs to my room. It’s filled with shelves and alcoves, and there is one in particular that is large enough for me to crawl into. I love to crawl in here and think. I walk over to the familiar area and climb in. I try to remember what it was like before all this started. I sigh, remembering the day it happened…
My sister had been out of school for a week. I walked home hurriedly, anxious to find out what was wrong. As soon as I opened the door I could sense something wasn’t right. I looked around and found my mom hunched over and crying on the couch.
“Mom?” I call, uncertainly. She looked up, her face all red and puffy.
“Oh,” she replied. “I didn’t realize that school was over already.”
“So did they figure out what’s wrong?”
“Yes,” was all she said.
“So....?” I asked, getting worried.
She sighed heavily, “Your sister has been diagnosed with leukemia.”
“No! There must have been a mistake, she can’t have cancer. It’s just a little virus; she’ll be better in a few days, right?” I was almost shouting in a panic.
“I’m sorry honey, but it’s true. We can take her to chemo-therapy, but there’s not much we can do. It’s a more advanced form of cancer,” my mom said sorrowfully.
I could see how much it was hurting her to talk about it; so I ended the conversation by going upstairs to talk to Karolynn.
The smell of dinner arises me from my flashback.
“Lia! It’s time for dinner. Could you come downstairs and join us, please?” yells my mom from the kitchen.
Sighing, I get up, my back stiff from sitting in the same position for so long.
“Coming,” I reply as I run downstairs.
I get into the dining room and sit in front of the table. I sadly glance at the empty seat next to me where Karolynn should be. I look up to my parents as they silently pass around dinner and I follow suit. As we eat quietly, the moment feels very awkward.
Eventually, dinner ends and I take my dishes and place them in the dishwasher. I walk upstairs and back into my bedroom. I slip off my clothes and put on my pajamas. I go into the bathroom and go through h my nightly routine, trying to keep something in my life somewhat normal. Splash cool water on my face, wash off dry tears and any makeup I may have put on this morning. I dry off my face and proceed to take my asthma medicine.
Tonight, I decide to add another step. As I come out of my bathroom I grab my iPod and stick the earphones in my ears. I listen as a playlist of my favorite songs begins. I try to block the world out with it, with fresh warm tears beginning to spill out. I get into my bed, set my alarm, and cry myself to sleep.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! The annoying sound of my alarm rips me from my sleep. I roll out of bed and hit the ‘off’ button. Crying it out last night made me feel a little better. Not by much, but just enough so I can act normal for school.
I turn my iPod off and set it back on the shelf. I choose out the clothes I want to wear today then walk into the bathroom. I turn on the water in the shower. Waiting for it to warm up I place my pajamas on the floor. I step into the warm water and let my muscles relax and my mind clear.
I want to stay in here longer, but since I have school I soon get out and dry off with a towel. I throw on my clothes for today and on my way downstairs, grab my book bag. Slipping my bag over my shoulder, I grab a breakfast bar and water bottle then head out the door. The cool morning air feels good on my skin. I unfold my breakfast bar and start eating while I walk.
After about two blocks, I’m at school. Looking around, I find Niki and C.C. waiting in our usual spot. They see me and wave for me to come over. Once I’m there I shoot Niki a questioning meaning: Did you tell her? He shakes his head in reply then looks at me as if asking: But do you want me to? I let out a sigh.
“No, I can,” I turn to C.C. “C.C., they’re taking my sister off life support soon.”
“Oh my God!” she says, shock clearly painted across her face.
“My parents offered to drive the three of us to see her today,” I finish.
“I’ll be there,” they say simultaneously. They both lean over and give me a hug as the bell rings. We pull away and go our separate ways to our lockers.
First hour drags on, filled with no one who I often talk to. Second and third go by quickly with Marie and I going through our daily routine of passing notes throughout both classes. When the bell rings to finally end fourth hour I make a break for the door, eager to join my friends at our lunch table. Once I get out of the lunch line, I find Niki already waiting at our spot.
“Hey,” Niki says.
“Hi,” is my reply.
I set my tray on the table and sit beside him. It feels nice to keep some things the same with everything that has happened. Though it doesn’t mean I can’t feel the hole forming in my heart.
“Are you alright?” Niki asks, as if he can hear my thoughts.
“Not really,” I answer truthfully.
“I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but it’s going to be all right,” he says, desperately straining to comfort me.
“Thanks, but you know as well as I do that no amount of words can help,” I say. I look over to see C.C. coming over from the lunch line.
“Hey,” she says as she sits down next to me, as if this has all been rehearsed.
“Hi,” Niki and I reply at the same time.
“So did you hear about Spanish?” she asked, trying to keep his subject light. “Rumor has it she’s giving out loads of homework tonight.”
“You know or it could be just that, a rumor,” I say, frowning at the thought of any homework.
“Too bad Spanish is our only class together,” Niki puts in. “The only class that we aren’t allowed to talk in English.”
“Talk not write, there’s always the option of passing notes,” C.C. adds smartly.
“As long as the teacher doesn’t catch us,” Niki mumbles under his breath. C.C. pretended as if she didn’t hear him.
“Well I guess we could, but it gets difficult passing notes between three people,” I say negatively. I think about how strict the Spanish teacher is. “Unless we want to write what we’re saying twice.” I force out a laugh.
“Nah, that would get way too confusing,” C.C. says, mistaking my negativity for a suggestion.
“You’ve got to admit, Lia, we have less a chance of getting in trouble if we pass notes. For one, she can’t hear us. And for two, we won’t get in trouble for speaking English in Spanish class,” Niki replies, trying to change my mind.
“Oh all right,” I say, reluctantly giving in.
C.C. and Niki smile in victory. Soon the bell rings to end lunch. We get and throw away what is left of our lunches. Going over to our lockers, we get our binders and run to meet up in Spanish class. Ms. Mag let’s us sit where we want; so Niki, C.C., and I usually sit in a group in the back. She only has a few rules, but the most hated is we aren’t allowed to speak English. The bell rings and Ms. Mag walks to the front of the class. She is a middle aged woman, tall and slender, with chocolate brown hair, and deep emerald eyes. She runs over what we’re going to be learning about this week, and then passes out group assignments. Our group ignores the worksheet and begins passing notes, hoping the teacher won’t notice. But she is too busy helping people who don’t get the assignment. Talking about upcoming events, we continue to try to keep our conversation light. Inevitably, the bell rings and we head for our last two classes of the day.
The rest of my afternoon goes by quickly; immersing myself in my work. As soon as the bell rings to end the day I bolt out the door and stuff my backpack. I run out of the building, searching for my friends. I run up to C.C., with Niki coming up on our right. This was the moment we were waiting for all day. We are itching with anticipation to se Karolynn. The moment my parents’ trailblazer arrived we were in, squishing together.
The two minutes it takes to get to the hospital feels like days. We sit silently in the back as electricity shoots through the air like electricity. We don’t want to waste a second, knowing that each one passed was one less she had to live. My dad pulls into the parking lot and we half walk, half run into the hospital.