The Door

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I ran down a long narrow corridor. The only thought on my mind was that I had to reach the end, no matter what, I had to reach the end. I had been in this place before. It was all so familiar. The same dreary walls, the same tedious ticking sound that filled the air, and the same door that I knew I would never reach. Soon enough I would finally wake up. Yes, this is a dream. No matter how much I wanted to believe that the adrenaline that pumped so strongly through my body was real, I knew that in a matter of mere minuets, my eyes would flutter open only to see a room I new so well. A small room, with closed windows, white walls, and the alarming sounds of a life that was ever so slowly passing me by. No matter how much I wanted to keep running, I knew I would wake up, even though I didn’t want to.
I kept running, my legs screaming for me to stop. All I ever wanted was to reach that door and find out what was behind it. I was almost there. I could almost feel the cold golden, brass doorknob in my hands. My fingertips could almost reach it, just one more second… My eyes slowly fluttered open, and I saw the room that I hated to see. I sighed and sank down into my pillows in defeat. I was so close to that door. Yet once again I woke up. Every time I woke up. I wanted, no needed, to reach that door. That was my only wish in life; to reach the door.
I sighed and stared around the room. A room that I despised and hated with all my heart and soul. The room had dull white walls, and a repetitive white tile flooring. The beams of light did not come from the two little windows that caused one of the four walls to not look as uninteresting as the rest, but instead it came from the florescent lights that hung above me. I looked around the room, looking at every crack, every tile, and every piece of machinery that I already knew so well. I tried to lift myself up higher but slowly sunk down in defeat. I turned my head ever so slowly only to stare at my sworn enemy. The piece of machinery stared back at me, taunting me with every beep. I hated that machinery with every fiber of my being. I shook my head at the stupidity of my own feelings; I hated an EKG.
That’s right, I am in a hospital, and I have been for the last few weeks. I have come back to this hospital, this very room, many times before over the last three years. That’s because three years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer.
I remembered that day as if it were yesterday. It had been a Wednesday in the middle of a school week in April. The day had been one of the nicest we had had in a long time, yet it had cast the largest shadow upon my life. I sat on one of the torn bus seats in the back next to my friend Georgia. We laughed and talked about things that seemed so meaningless to me now. I looked out the window, watching the tree’s fade together like a water color painting. I felt the wind blow through my hair, feeling its cold hands grace my face. I closed my eyes and felt the sun tenderly touch my face. The bus finally pulled to a screeching halt in front of my house. I said goodbye to my friends before hopping lightly off of the last step. The doors swung shut behind me and slowly the bus drove away, before finally fading away. I began to walk up the little dirt pathway that lead to my house. I rounded a corner only to take in a full view of my house. My quaint little house that stood between the road and the forest. My house was a little white house, with a porch that wrapped all the way around. It had a brick chimney on the side, and blue shutters that surrounded the windows. My house may not have been the most amazing place on Earth, but it was home.
I ran up the porch steps, lightly jumping to the next step. I ran through the door lightly tossing my backpack onto the couch, and kicking off my muddy sneakers by the door. I walked into the kitchen and walked straight to the refrigerator, just like I always did, and grabbed a bottle of soda. I slowly closed the refrigerator and turned around. “Ahh” I said, jumping a little bit. There at the kitchen table sat my mom. I hadn’t even noticed her there, she was usually at work at this time of day, my dad was also at work right now. I usually spent my afternoon alone studying, just waiting for one of them to get home. “Hey mom, I didn’t even see you there! What are you doing home this early?” I asked, looking back down at my soda bottle, slowly taking off the cap and taking a sip. I turned around to look at my mom, who hadn’t even muttered a single word to me. That’s when I saw that look on her face, that blank stare that sent shivers up my spine. Her face was a white as a ghost and her eyes were looking at something far away in the distance, but there was nothing to see except wooden cabinets. I rushed over to the table and slowly slid out a chair for myself and took her hands into mine. “Mom what’s wrong?” I asked frantically. The last time she had that look on her face was when she got the call that her brother had died in Afghanistan while serving in the military. “Mom is everyone okay? What’s wrong?” I asked over and over again. She still looked blankly at something far away, but finally she looked at me, as if she had just been shaken from a dream. She looked at me for a second, her eyes wide, brimming with tears. “Mom?” I asked, my voice slowly fading into a whisper. She looked at me for another second, trying to muster up enough courage to tell me what was on her mind.
Slowly her hands tightened on mine. “Hunny,” she began, her voice low and eerily calm, “ I got your test result back from the doctor today.” She said, eyeing my face with such intensity that it made me almost shrink back a little. I looked at her uncomprehendingly. What was so big about the test results? I hadn’t been feeling well for the past couple of weeks so my mother had taken me to my doctor. He had done some tests and said that it was probably nothing… but then why did my mother have that look on her face? I stared at her uncomprehendingly for another second before she finally spoke again. “Ali,” she said, tears leaking from the corner of her eyes, “the tests results showed the doctors something that they didn’t know you had.” She said, her voice, as well as her entire body, was shaking.
“Mom,” I said, speaking slowly, my stomach slowly twisting into painful knots, “What is it that I have?” She stared at me for another minute, still shaking before she finally pulled me into a big hug. Bewildered, I hugged her back, but slowly I pried myself away. “Mom, what do I have?” I asked strongly.
“Ali, you have cancer.” My mom said, burying her hands in her face. I stared at her, my mouth wide open, and my heart beginning to race. No, this could not be happening, it wasn’t possible, I thought to myself. I felt as if someone had just twisted a knife in my heart. I shook my head, my thoughts slowly coming out of my mouth.
“No…No, this can’t be happening! There has to be some mistake.” I said, more to myself than my mother, who still had her face buried into her hands. I shook my head, slowly, then vigorously. No, its not true. This is some kind of sick joke that they are all playing on me, I thought to myself. In the back of my head a little voice said “why would they joke about something like cancer?” but I refused to listen to it. I shoved it out of my head. All the rational thoughts and feelings I could have been experiencing flooded out of my body, as if they were running away from me. Slowly I stood up, not thinking, not feeling anything at all, I had gone strangely numb throughout my body. I turned around and left, walking right back the way that I came, not stopping to get my sneakers on the way out. From behind I heard my mom call my name, yet I didn’t hear. I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t see, I couldn’t feel. Not it wasn’t that I couldn’t, I just didn’t want to. The numbness was nice. The numbness was my only friend, it was my only way to escape.
I slowly walked out the door, letting it slam shut behind me. I started out walking but somehow it morphed into a full out sprint, as if I were running for my life. I had no idea where I was going and yet I didn’t care. How could I care if I refused to feel? I kept running until I couldn’t run any longer. Slowly I dropped to my knees and lay in a crumpled heap on the ground. Unwanted tears began to leak out of my eyes, and I tried to wipe them away, tried to get them to stop coming, but they just kept coming, until I felt as if I couldn’t cry any longer. I could feel the world passing my by right now. People were going on with their normal lives, oblivious to the fact that mine had just been altered forever. Finally I couldn’t cry any longer, I no longer felt sad, instead I felt angry, I felt furious. Why was this happening to me? Why me? Since there were no more tears left I did the only other thing I could think of, I screamed. I laid there and screamed until someone found me. And now here I was, three years later, lying in a hospital bed. I laughed bitterly, remembering how easy life used to be. But it would never be that way again. My life had forever been changed in one second, and right now all I wanted to do was scream.
Since then I had been in and out of the hospital every couple of months. I participated in numerous different types of treatments, each giving little results. There were times when I was so weak I could barley keep my eyes open and other times when it seemed like I wasn’t even sick at all. People were astonished by the fact that I was still alive, but they were like everyone else. They underestimated me. When they looked at me all they saw was a small girl with long brown hair, piercing blue eyes, and pale skin. They never thought I would last, but they were wrong. They were always wrong. I was stronger than I looked, and yet they always underestimated me. No matter how many times I called them out on it, they still pretended like they supported me, even though I knew that behind my back they were just waiting for the day that I would drop. All those around me had grown transparent, their lies causing their forms to become fainter and fainter until finally there aren’t even there anymore. Their lies and acts surround them like a dark gray fog that is too thick for my eyes to see through. Not that I even try anymore. I don’t need them, their support, or their pity. I don’t need anyone anymore.
All I needed and wanted was to reach that dream door. That was my only wish. I didn’t know what it was, or what it even meant, but I needed to reach it. I had too. It was the only thing that kept my life the least bit interesting. Other than the longing for that door, I barley felt anything anymore. The feelings that I possessed for that door reminded me that I was still alive. But soon enough I wouldn’t be anymore. Not according to the doctors. They finally gave me the bad news I had been waiting to hear. I am no longer responding to treatments. They say there is no use, no hope; my body will no longer respond to any of the treatments anymore. Slowly, my body is shutting down. They have told my mother and my father that there are no longer any treatments that they can give me. The doctors have basically condemned me to death.
I lay in my hospital bed, shocked by the news. I’m shutting down. There is no hope. Soon enough I will lose this fight that I have been fighting for three full years. Its eerie to think that one second you can be optimistic about whether you are going to survive, and then the next second you are told, and know, that soon you will die.
Both of my parents go off and talk to the doctors, both unwilling to believe that there is no longer any hope for me. Inside my heart is breaking for them. They are in denial, they don’t want to believe the truth that is right in front of them. They have forced themselves to force back their feelings of pain and go into a state where they still believe that there is a way. I on the other hand felt calm and serene. I imagined that when I would get bad news like this that I would become frantic and cry my eyes out, yet here I was, in a state that was between shock and serenity. I didn’t know what to think, what to feel, or what to say. I no longer felt scared, instead I felt numb. Yet it wasn’t the kind of numbness that I had felt before. Instead it was a nice numb, a numb that left me so close to happiness that I could almost feel it, yet it was to far for me to reach it. For the first time in three years, I felt normal again.
After they left the room, I found myself alone with my older brother. We hadn’t been alone together in a long time, not since I had been diagnosed. When he learned the news, he had begin to act weird around me, just like everyone else. He didn’t know what to say, or how to act. He was afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing, yet by being afraid, he continually did and said the wrong thing. All I wanted was my brother back.
He looked out the window, a blank look covering his face. He too seemed to be in a state of shock, yet the look on his face was a mix of emotions. I could read fear, shock, anger, and sadness, as well as some other feelings that I couldn’t pin down. I stared at his face for a moment, and then took a second to take him in. I just needed a moment to let his image permanently set in my mind. I didn’t know whether or not this would be the last time we say each other. I looked over him, remembering him as a child, and how much fun we used to have together. He had grown up so much since then, as had I. He was tall, with blue eyes just like me, long-ish blonde hair, and a light complexion. He was also wearing a t-shirt and a pair of jeans, just like he always did. My brother, James, was a simple guy, yet he was also the kindest and most good hearted person you could ever meet. He had never let me down, not even once, in my life. He has always been there for me, and I had always been there for him. But right now, neither of us really knew how to be there for each other. We were both too shocked to speak, and who could blame us? I was just told that I will probably die soon. How does one respond to that?
I wanted to say something to ease the tension, but before I could say anything, I began to cough loudly. My whole body was shaking as I coughed. This got James’ attention right away. His head snapped up as he hurried to my side and sat down in the chair beside me. He looked at my frantically, not sure what to do. Soon enough the coughing stopped and I was left with a sore feeling in my throat and chest. That’s the bad thing about being sick, everything hurts.
“Are you okay? How can I help? Do you need water? Should I get the doctor?” James asked frantically staring at me. I shook my head, and turned to meet him directly.
“No I’m fine. Just a stupid cough, happens all the time.” I said, trying to shake it of like it was no big thing, yet in the back of my mind, fear was beginning to creep in on me. It wasn’t no big deal. For the past couple of days, I had sensed that I was getting worse. I was coughing more and I was having trouble breathing. But hey, that’ll happen when your body is shutting down. James stared at me for a second, clearly not fooled, before nodding. Then we feel back into that awkward silence that we had been in before. I opened my mouth to speak, but soon closed it, not knowing what to say.
“Are you scared?” James whispered. I looked at him, surprised that he had broken the silence. I looked at him for a second then down at my hands.
“Of what? Dying? Yeah, a little, but then I put it into perspective. If you think about it, I have lived a very long life.” I said quietly, still staring down at my hands. He looked at me, perplexed.
“What do you mean? You’re only fifteen years old.” He said. I looked at him, meeting his eyes.
“That’s if you count your life by years.” I said, knowing that he didn’t understand. He looked at me, frowning.
“Well what do you count it by?” He asked, quietly. He looked at me intently, as if he were captivated by my every word. I looked down at my hands again.
“Life isn’t measured by how many years we live or how many breaths we take, or how many minuets its been since we’ve been born. Or well, at least mine isn’t. I measure my life through every laugh and every cry. I measure my life through every terrible moment and every terrific moment. You can’t spend your whole life focusing on the big things, you have to spend it drinking in those amazing little things that make life worth living. I measure my life by every smile and every tear. So if you measure it my way, I have lived a very long and fulfilling life.” I said quietly, surprised by how deep I was. Unintentionally, tears began to slip from the corner of my eyes. Soon enough, I was full out crying. James looked at me for a second, tears pouring down his face, before he finally came over to me and hugged me. We sat there for who knows how long, hugging and crying, too afraid to let go of each other. Neither of us knew when we would see each other again. This is what I had been talking about, this was one of the little moments that made life worth living. This, right here, was what my life was all about.
I had a couple of good weeks, where it seemed like everything was going to get better. Where it seemed as if the doctors were going to be proven wrong, but then things slowly got bad. No, the didn’t slowly get bad, they got bad real fast. My life began to dwindle down in a spiral that kept gaining speed. Soon enough, I could barley keep my eyes open. I found myself going to sleep fearing that I wasn’t going to wake up.
When things got bad, I focused on one thing. The door. That was the only thing that kept me strong. Every night when I feel asleep, the same dream took over me. I could feel the adrenaline pumping, my legs screaming, and my heart wrenching every time I woke up. But tonight was different. Tonight I could feel it. Tonight I would reach the door.
Once my eyes had fluttered shut and I had fallen asleep, my body came alive. I felt free of all the pain that had come during the day and all I knew was that I had to reach that door. I had too and I would. I found myself running through that same hallway, and there at the end was the door. I could see the golden brass knob shimmering, as if it were taunting me. Yet tonight was different. Tonight I felt faster, I felt more alive. I kept gaining speed, slowly closing the distance between me and the door. Finally there was only one inch left, then barley an inch and before you knew it, my fingers were touching the door knob. My hand clasped the door knob and I stood in front of that door. The door knob felt nice and cold against my palm. I stood there, my heart racing with anticipation, as I stared at that door. Finally I had made it! Now was the moment of truth, now it was time for me to open the door and discover what was inside of it. Slowly I twisted the door knob, opening the door ever so gently. Finally it was open before me, and I could see inside. I stared inside, my mouth hanging open, and I gasped at what was inside. Without thinking, I began to walk inside. I let myself go as I walked through that door frame; I no longer felt fear or pain, instead all I felt was happiness. For once in three years I was happy, truly happy. As I walked through that door frame, I didn’t look back; the last thing I heard was the creaking of the door closing behind me.





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