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I slip out the front door, letting it slap into place behind me with a slam, the screen rattling. I prance down the steps and across the moonlit yard and into the cover of the trees. The woods are thick and green from the spring rains and as I weave through their foilage, I am slapped with the leafy branches. Finally I clear the dark forest and step on to a barren plain of corn. A small trail is cut through the growing stalks that are now almost 5 1/2 feet tall. My head cannot see over the top so I rely on the trail to lead me through. As I travel down the scar I begin to jog then sprint until my breath is loud in my ears. I can hear blood pumping and I stop quickly when I hear the near-silent gurgle of the stream that curves right along the edge of the field. I slow to a walk and straighten my sundress that is dappled with a creamy floral pattern. My TOMS crunch quietly against gravely dirt until I come out on the clearing.
Laying gracefully in the pale-yellow moonlight is my prince. His chocolate-brown curls sway gently in the breeze as I prance over to him. "Claire..." he greets me. I hear a certain sadness in his voice though, and fear immediatly finds my heart.
I question him quickly. "What's wrong?"
I notice a flash of worry skitter across his midnight-gray eyes but then its gone and a weak grin spreads across his face. "Nothing," he attempts to convince me. I am not so easily swayed and turn my face--angry from the lie--to gaze into the waters that lazily roll by. When I say nothing I feel strong arms find me, a hug wrapping around my body as if he's holding my pieces together. "Oh...Claire. Look at me." I do, because I love this boy who is residing besides me. His seducing eyes greet mine and I immediatly feel relieved.
I imagined the whole thing...I convince myself, because that's what we do. We lie to ourselves so everything looks perfect until we realize it really isn't.
His lips find mine and I kiss him back, gently at first. But our lips soon find places other than each others. We are everywhere and I am feeling jubilant. But when I feel it getting to deep, I pull back and remind him with a glare that we are dating, not married. The look in his eyes hurts but I remind myself that what I say is true. We return to kissing passionatly, side by side, lip to lip, until the night leaves us.
Three weeks passed. That's when I let myself accept that something really was wrong. The quick looks of worry and fear that grazed his vision whenever I first appear by his side. The way that he always was gentle now after that night by the stream. The way that nothing is the same bewteen us anymore.
That's when I noticed the bruise. It was the purply-red-blue of a new bruise but the way he acted as if it didn't hurt when the wall hit it worried me. "You okay there, kid?" I ask him when we are alone. The two of us are sitting lazily by the river again. I point to the bruise.
His face pales so much that I can see the blue nerves widning under the skin. His dark eyes go wide and he lies. "I hit it on my locker and it uhh...bruised." I should have let it go. He had a story...It should have satisified me. But the way he lied like he thought I wouldn't care tore the last bit of strenghth I had left.
"Cory Miller, you tell me what's up right now! You're not the same! Always acting strange. Never looking me in the eye. It's all a huge lie! Look at me!" My voice rises as I preech to him from a low scream to a screech so loud it scares even me.
He lets me scream. He just lets me. This is what makes me stop bursting out random accusasstions and just look at him. This is the first time I really look at him. He looks...weak. The way his eyes are glazed over and just pale compaired to the normal dark-gray look they have. The way he just sits there and doesn't move much. His lips are a bit pale-blueish and that's when it dawns on me. He's being gentle because he doesn't want to get hurt. He's being quiet because he doesn't want to break down crying. He's not being himself...because...well...he's not himself.
He sees it in my eyes when I realize what's wrong, but he makes it all true. "Twenty-three days ago I was diahnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia." He says it and flinches, then looks away quickly. Chills scurry through my body and I think back to health class from Fresman year. This type of Cancer is a type of blood Cancer. Oh...nooo...
I lean over against him. I'm crying but I hope he doesn't feel my salty tears dripping into his shirt. "You know what's funny...?" I laugh. He shakes his head weakly and I feel my confidence disapear for a few seconds before grabbing it back. "Now you can eat more...you and your tumor." I feel his body shaking from either tears or laughter and I look over at his eyes.
Tears are, in fact, leaking from his eyes, but a true smile is glazed in his face. "That's the best one I've heard yet."
"Then why are you crying?" I choke out.
"Because my mom doesn't even joke about it." His voice is thick with tears and laughter. He turns towards me and gives me a gentle peck on the cheek.
"Cory?" I wonder. "Will you loose all your hair?" I feel rude asking, but I want to know. I want to spend the rest of my life with him and I cannot do that if I don't know what's going to happen to this boy.
He looks at me, and wipes at his eyes. "You'd like that wouldn't you, Claire...?"
"Why would I ever like that?" I'm scared he's trying to make a joke and I'll ruin it, but I'm also worried he's really being serious. "I wouldn't."
"Well good, but I will. All of it...I'll go through chemotherapy and then...yeah...I'll be bald at the age of 17. Fantastic..."
He didn't have time to loose his hair. Cory died before there was that chance. But I did loose my hair.
Two days after the funeral, I came to school bald. I had shaved my head. I wished Cory had been there to touch the cold skin.