Bruce

He didn’t remember going to sleep that night. He remembered staying up past midnight with Aunt Betty and Uncle George. He remembered Aunt Betty’s hysterics and how Uncle George didn’t say anything because he didn’t know what to say.
Lindsay hadn’t come out of her room, but she was moving around, throwing things, stomping her feet, slamming things down.
At first there was a lot of silence, the only sounds the ones coming from Lindsay’s closed door. In spurts they started to talk about the diagnosis, the treatment. They talked about dinner and school and work and responsibility and childhood memories. They cried, they laughed, and then Bruce woke up in a cold sweat.
His first instinct was to go back to sleep, but everything from that day tore at him and he couldn’t bring himself to close his eyes.
He got up and paced around his room. Thoughts whizzed into his mind at he speed of sound, creating a dull, buzzing roar in his ears before they flew back out again. He walked over to his wall of windows and breathed in the cool metal scent of the city’s ocean air. They sky was starting to clear; only a few slow moving clouds still covered the moon.
With one swift bending motion, he climbed out the window and onto the fire escape. He sat down and inched forward so his legs hung over the edge. He rested his arms on the rickety peeled-paint railing. His eyes closed and he heard whistling, a dull roar, felt the rumbling of the seat beneath him. He tried to imagine his mother revving the engine, tried to see her contorted face as she pushed the key forward farther and farther, tears streaming down her face, not knowing what to do as her tongue glued itself to the roof of her mouth so she wouldn’t scream. He saw from his sister’s eyes her white-tight covered legs, her brand new shiny black shoes and flowered dress hanging over the side of her car seat, thinking about her first day of kindergarten, heard her delicate voice in his ears again waking him up that morning, and then he saw the bright glint of glass-on-glass-on-sunlight, felt the whooshing louder and louder and filling her ears and ringing and rushing and adrenaline and fear and confusion coursing through her body and the final bam! flash! of the train hitting.
Something brushed his shoulder and he looked up. “Hey, coz.”
“Hey.” She didn’t look at him. “Sorry about before.”
He didn’t say anything. He rubbed his wet eyes and looked at the cars seven long stories below.
“Can I sit here?”
“Yeah.”
She swung herself down into the same position as him and looked straight out in front of her. After a long silence she finally said, “You’re not gonna do chemo, are you?”
“No.” He couldn’t stand the thought of chemicals running rampant through his body while he slowly disintegrated at home.
“Well, you can’t do nothing!” She took a breath. “I mean, what else is there? What else would you do?”
“Nothing, natural stuff I guess.”
“So you’re not even worried about it?”
He shrugged. “Not really. There’s no sense in it if it’s my time anyway.”
“Don’t say that. Don’t be so negative. This is serious.”
“So am I.”
She nodded her head slowly. “So that’s it?”
Silence.
She took his hand. “What have you always wanted to do?”
“Why?”
“Just answer the question.”
He sighed. “I dunno.” He thought for a minute. “Sky diving.”
“What? No way. That’s crazy.”
“You asked.”
She tapped her thumb against his. “Make a list.”
“Why?”
“Bruce…”
“Well, I wanna know what I’m doing.”
“Just… ‘cause we’re gonna live like we’re dying.” She grasped his hand tighter. “We’ll make a list, a wish-list kind of, and we’ll do it all before…” she trailed off into a long shuddering breath.
Silence. Finally he said, “But…I don’t want to. Not now.”
“Why not?” Lindsay demanded, brushing a tear from her cheek.
“I can’t. I dunno. I can’t.”
“Whaddaya mean you can’t?” She paused to let him answer, but he didn’t say anything. “Bruce, I don’t know how much time you have left, but I don’t want you to miss out on everything you always wanted to do.”
Bruce grimaced. He let go of her hand and put his head in the crease of his elbow. He thought about it. He couldn’t bring himself to admit that this, all of this, was real, and that’s exactly what this list would do. It would make it real. Then he thought about Lindsay. He sat back and pulled her into a hug, felt her crumpled and shaking in his arms. He wanted their last months together to be something she would remember for the rest of her life. He rested his chin on top of her head and whispered, “Okay.”

“Okay, so first things first, think of everything you always wanted to do. No second thoughts.”
They were in Bruce’s room. Lindsay sat cross-legged on his bed flipping though a magazine. Bruce sat at his desk with a pen and a blank piece of lined paper in front of him. He looked at her dumbly. “What if I can’t think of anything?”
“Well, what about skydiving? Put it down.”
He scribbled it on the paper. “Now what?”
She made an agitated sigh. “Anywhere you wanna go, anything you wanna do, anyone you wanna meet, write it down. Capisce?”
“Capisce.” He tapped the pen on his desk top and wrote down a few ideas. He paused and poked the pen to his lips.
“What?”
“I can’t think of any more.”
“You have what, two ideas down? I—”
“Three.”
“Whatever. I’m sure you can think of more.”
“Not really.”
“Come on! Even stupid stuff. Write everything down.”
“Stupid stuff?”
“Yeah, like skydiving. Stupid.”
“Thanks.”
Lindsay yawned and closed her magazine, “I’m heading off to bed. Finish that list. I wanna see it tomorrow.”
“K, ’night.”
“Even the stupid stuff, remember.”
“Yeah, good night.”
“’Night.”
***
Skydiving
Read as many books as possible
Around the world in eighty days
See a lunar eclipse
Go back to Colorado and remember
Go to Times Square for the New Year
Sleep under the stars, away from the city
Be happy
Play a live concert and give all the proceeds to the ACS
Go gangsta for a day
Protest in Vancouver
Meet Pete Townshend
Climb the tallest tree in the world
Sit on the roof all day looking at the clouds
Pac Man party
Support a child in need
Have a penpal from a different country
Spend as much time as possible with friends and family





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