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The Little Boy Next Door
I looked up and saw him. I loved the way his eyes lit up, the way he would stand on his tippy-toes, eagerly waiting for the next one, the way his face was the perfect model of innocence, the way his mouth held a straight face but held the anticipation of the upcoming burst of laughter. I picked up the wand and slowly dipped it in the bubble solution, wanting to prolong the moment of silence. As I blew through the wand, creating the bubble, I watched the much anticipated laughter break out on his face, like a quickly-spreading disease. It still fascinates me how he waits with so much excitement for a little soap bubble.
Beep! Beep! Beep! I slammed the snooze button on my alarm clock. I had already gone through ten cycles of this button pressing already and I was still too lazy to get up from the warm layers of my bed. I finally had to wake up when my mom came barging into my room and shook me out of the sweet dream I was having.
“Come on, Kara! It’s already 7:15! You have to get up or you’ll miss the bus! Hurry!” cried my mom.
I reluctantly opened my eyes and immediately sprang out of my bed when I processed the information my mom gave me. I quickly got ready and ran out the door in 10 minutes flat. A new record, I thought. I was usually late for everything. I ran to the waiting bus and apologized to the bus driver for my lateness. She was used to it.
My day at school was like any other, roaming the hallways between classes, “learning”, and being late. After school, I went home and did my homework as fast as I could. The reason? I was about to meet the one person I loved seeing the most. David. He was the little boy who lived next door. I was going to be babysitting him. For most people, babysitting was the last thing they would want to do. But not me. David was the most energetic, ecstatic, and lively person I’d ever met. He could take anybody away from the darkest despair in their lives.
I arrived at the Woods’ house promptly at 7 o’clock. I was never late for babysitting David. I rang the doorbell and Mrs. Woods opened the door.
“Hi Kara,” greeted Mrs. Woods. “You’re right on time, like always. Come in.”
“Thanks Mrs. Woods,” I said.
Mrs. Woods led me into the familiar house and went over the usual guidelines of babysitting I’d heard many times. Then she took me into the kitchen and told me something different.
“Kara, I also need you to give David a teaspoon of this antibiotic,” she said, holding up a bottle of pink medicine.
“Is David sick?” I asked.
She paused a moment and turned her face away. She looked back at me straight into my eyes and said yes.
“Mrs. Woods, is something wrong?”
She hesitated, and then quickly glanced at her watch.
“I’ll have to tell you later, Kara. I’m getting late for my appointment.”
“Alright then. Bye.”
“Bye, and don’t forget to give David his medicine.”
I followed her to the door and locked it securely behind me. I walked over to the kitchen and looked at the pink fluid-filled bottle. But before I could read it, David came down with his radiant smile. I put the bottle aside and made my way over to David’s beaming face.
“Hi David! How are you doing?” I asked.
“Hi Kara! I’m great!” he replied enthusiastically.
“What do you want to do today?”
“Umm…” he thought. “Let’s draw some pictures!”
“Ok, sure. Go get some paper and I’ll get some crayons and markers.”
Once we got everything, we sat down and started drawing. I sat and thought about what to do draw while David immediately started drawing. I watched him and thought about what I was like before I knew David.
I slammed the door behind me. My heavy steps echoed through the house. I threw my backpack on the floor and felt the sudden urge to go outside again. I ran outside, leaving the door open. I ran to the park across the street. My feet made soft thuds on the grass, and then reached the tough woodchips. Climbing through the maze of metal, I made my way into the heart of jungle gym. The meshed walls blocked me from the outside world. I sat there and let my anger slowly seep out through my thoughts. Just when I was starting to let out my anger, a kid comes right into my hiding place, ruining the peace of my only secluded spot.
“Excuse me,” he said.
“Just go, kid,” I said, irritated.
“Hey, you look like you could use somebody to talk to.”
Since he said those words, David was the person I would go to whenever I just needed to be myself and let my anger out. He didn’t judge me or make any comments. To be truthful, I don’t think he even understood my problems. But I just felt good knowing there was somebody I could talk to if I ever needed help. I would never have believed that I would share all of my thoughts and feelings to a little 5-year-old.
David brought his picture up to me. It was a typical picture, with crayon scribbling and shaky lines. But to me, it meant a lot more. On it, David was holding hands with me and about to give me a bundle of flowers that he had picked out. I sat there staring at the picture, feeling as though I was actually in it when David asked:
“Do you like it?”
“Of course I do! It’s beautiful! Do you mind if I keep it?” I asked.
“I made it just for you,” he said.
“Aww. Thanks, David.”
After a while, I gave David his medicine, still puzzled about it. When Mrs. Woods came back, I immediately asked her about the bottle of pink medicine.
“Well, Kara, it’s an antibiotic for the first stage of cancer,” she said, holding back tears.
I was shocked. My body was frozen. My mouth hung wide open. I went and sat down on the couch, not able to do anything.
“We’re not entirely certain if this could take his life. We just have to hope that we have time on our side.”
As the months went by, the number of medications David had to take increased. His health condition was slowly deteriorating. Day by day, David was a little less enthusiastic. One day, Mrs. Woods took me into the kitchen.
“Kara, David doesn’t have much longer to live. He has to get admitted to the hospital,” she said. She had a determined face, ready to face any obstacle that came in the way of David’s life.
I rode in the car when they took David to the hospital. After he got admitted, I visited him every day, hoping he would get better. And yet I didn’t think he understood what was going on.
In a few weeks, he was lying on a starched hospital bed. He was so pale, so lifeless. His eyes were closed, threatening never to open again. I was scared. I felt helpless. I didn’t know what to do. Without him, I felt like I couldn’t do anything.
The weeks turned into months. Then, the decision day came.
He was jerking around, like some invisible being was contorting his body into the most uncomfortable positions. It was painful to watch. I couldn’t imagine the pain he had to go through.
“Doctor!” I screamed. I wasn’t going to let him go without a fight.
The doctor with some nurses ran into the room, looking prepared to fight a battle. They made me and David’s parents go out of the room. We watched helplessly from the tiny porthole window.
15 minutes later, the doors opened. The doctor came out and said the words that I couldn’t bear to take in.
“I’m sorry. He’s dead.”
My mind began to cloud. I didn’t know what I was focusing on. The words that the doctor uttered played repeatedly in my head. The next thing I knew, I was sitting on the ground with my back laid against the wall, letting my tears drop onto the polished surface of the hospital floor. Memories of David laughing and playing flooded my mind.
David was a little boy that spread happiness everywhere. I was blessed to have known him. He put excitement into my life. David helped me whenever I needed it. I wished I could have done something to help him. It was hard to understand our relationship. But there’s one thing for sure. I will never forget the little boy next door.