Picture a Dream

May 18, 2010
By , Dallas, TX
My small washed out blue eyes quickly glanced back at the mirror on the opposite side of my bathroom door. One single glance and I was struck speechless. How much I had grown! And only after two days! Everything else seemed normal. My face was the same. A few discolored areas here and there, but nothing too noticeable. As for my hair, it was its own mountain on top of my head. Everything was just like it was again, but not for long.
I didn’t waste a minute. I was already half way through the staircase before I reached the dining room. In the kitchen, two eggs were laid comfortably on a set of silver china plates. As I dug into it with a plastic fork taken from my sister, I thought back to those two days. Were the test results really going to be given back today after such short notice? It didn’t matter for the moment. My eggs were the only thing on my mind.
As I finished my breakfast and went back up to my bedroom, I entered my bathroom once again to gaze upon my disastrous self. Behind me, that one picture showed through the tiniest of cracks in my closet door. It was the one picture of my father.
I turned around, went towards the picture and picked it up gingerly. The edges were still slightly burned, but the picture itself was still locked tightly into place on the small wooden frame. He was still smiling. His head was bald. In his arm, two small needles were placed in his veins. It was as if cancer made him a relaxed man in the last few days of his life.
It wasn’t usual for our family to deal with cancer, but when it came it hit us harder than we predicted. Both friends and foes of our family joined together for just that one moment to help that one person deal with it. But the one who suffered the most was always the one closest to that person. In the case of my father, it was my mother.
Two long years she lived without him in her life and I was her only company. It felt like a burden to always be then having to cheer her up, but she did her best. Even though the death was recent, everything else seemed to go along just like it usually did. Not a word was told about my father’s death from anyone. If anyone dared to say a thing about, sad faces were brought into the room instead.
I set the picture down back in it’s original position in my closet. When I went to look into my mirror, yet another small distraction came to me. The alarm on my clock buzzed frantically near the sink. I picked it up just as carefully as the picture to see what it read.

It was 6:30 in the morning. The beginning of my usual routine started now, but neither I nor my mess of a hair was close enough to be seen in public. Not like it mattered. The majority of the people at school did the same. But I did manage to put on my favorite pair of black faded jeans, a wrinkled yet school worthy black V-neck and some worn down sneakers from my brother’s jungle of a closet.

Right then and there was when it happened.

A pair of familiar footsteps came climbing up the staircase just outside my bedroom door. The click, click, clicking of the shoes on wood echoed through the halls and practically lifted me off the tile floor of my bathroom.
Then, the sound stopped. They now entered my room. The creaking of my bedroom door gave proof to just that. When I thought they had reached my bed, there was a soft knock on the door beside me. I was hesitant to respond, but decided to open the door despite myself.
“Honey,” my mother said in her sweetest voice. I should of known. No one else wore those hippie boots in the morning except for her. “The test results are back.”
My heart skipped a beat. After two days of stressing out, it all came flooding back. Goosebumps lined up in rows up and down my arm. What was I so afraid of?
“Well..?” I gave her one flick of my wrist; an indication to continue on with what she was fixing to say next. By the way her nose wrinkled up like a dried up raisin, I could easily tell it wasn’t the least bit pleasant.
“Oh Alice,” she said, tears welling in her eyes. “You have cancer. The test results all came back positive for it.”
In minutes, I was weeping with her. It no longer mattered what my hair looked like or what I was wearing. A part of me screamed that everything inside me was soiled. Just like her shoes, the rocked my head back and forth like a pendulum. But instead of two days, it was eternal. I couldn’t get rid of it.

My mother patted my shoulder like a dog about to be taken out for a walk. There was a weird silence after that. Nothing seemed to move. Instead of my mother’s waterfall of tears, I saw a smile on her face. But it wasn’t sincere, not real.

“Alice, the doctor said that we have to get you to the hospital today. Will you come with me?” she asked, her voice still soft.
“No,” I countered. “I’m not going back there.”
My mother turned away from me. Her hands were on her face in order to hide the tears from me. There were already bags forming underneath them.
“Your father was there, they did all they could. They can do the same for you.”
My body was empty. I didn’t want her speaking about. No, I refused to let her. On impulse, I shook it off her words and ran past her. My bed was the first hiding place I saw. I was able to cry peacefully there without her pitiful gaze looking at me. It was worse than knowing I had cancer. Just to see her eyes looking at me like I had lost something from her, I couldn’t bare it.
If I was awake long enough, I would have heard my mother’s silent prayers behind my back. But I didn’t. Instead, I had cried myself to sleep. It felt amazing to hear my own thoughts for once without any outside interference. Still, the silence was unbearable. I was still all alone, even in my dreams.
As I searched through my mind to find answers, I heard a voice calling off my name in one of my dreams. The voice echoed continuously through my head. For a split second, I saw my mother’s smiling face looking at me. This time, there was a different emotion to it. She actually seemed happy. My brother and sister were next to her. Their smiling faces were also just as happy looking as hers.
“Alice, why don’t you go play with Mike?” my mom called to me from behind a street lamp. “Ashley will join you too.”
Instantly, I knew what was happening. I was revisiting my last summer vacation. I could smell the sea’s salty waters and the sunscreen as if it were right under my nose. I reached out to grab what I thought was a seashell, but it was the edge of my pillow.
“Alice, you look so pretty today!” my sister, Ashley said as she skipped down the sea’s shore. Behind her, the waves crashed into the rock sticking out of the water like a dolphin getting ready to leap in the air. It was beautiful.

Then, I saw my own face in the water’s reflection. I was much tanner then. My blonde hair was much much lighter. It took me a few seconds to realize what I was doing with my face. When I did realize it, I shed a single tear.

I was smiling. I was happy there with my family. Yet, I never remembered smiling after that.
Even still, there was a great rush that came over me like I was suddenly waking up by the strangest of dreams.
A strange dream.
I suddenly shot up from my pillow case with so much force I almost fell straight into it again. Luckily, I regained my balance just in time to see the clock. It had only been four hours after six thirty, but I didn’t mind. I was already up and on my feet when I encountered my mother gripping that one single sheet of paper. Her face still had a sympathetic look cast upon it.

Without thinking, I had my hands wrapped around her like she was about to fall. Never have I seen my mother cry so much during that short amount of time. I didn’t want to let go, to see her cry and hurt herself all because of me.

In my head, I smelled the same sweet smell of water in the distance. How I wished to be there again, with my family. Even if my dad wasn’t there, I still wished he could of seen us right there.
“Mom, I’ll go with you,” I said while I let go a single tear. “I’ll keep Dad happy as well as you.”

My mother sniffed. I could tell I had lifted a heavy weight off of her shoulders. “Thank you, Thank you Alice.”
As the picture still showed through the crack, a small smile lit up on my face. In the picture itself, the man with the needles in his arms was just as content as I was even with what he had.
“I’ll always remember you,” I said when I exchange glances between my father’s eyes and my own.

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