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“Wake up Mr. Rozar,” Neil lifted his head to come eye to eye with Ms. Goodman, his Spanish teacher. Great, Neil thought as he stretched his arms out for a quick yawn, “I slept through Spanish once again” he told himself.
After the bell rang Neil made his way down the hallway giving the occasional head nod to friends he saw.
Neil Rozar was not the most popular guy in school. He had a fair amount of friends and he defiantly was not the most athletic. Deciding after playing football his freshman and sophomore year that, football just wasn’t for him.
He walked in the cafeteria to the jumbling sound of a hundred people all talking at once. Made his way to the line and waited for what seemed like an eternity to get his food. His hands resting in his pockets, he looked around the cafeteria. Everyone was doing something, their was some weird kids sitting in the corner that never talked to anyone. Then the athletes were at another table throwing grapes at girls across the cafeteria.
After getting his food he made his way to his own group with Kristy, Shawn, and Megan. He and Shawn have been good friends for the past couple of years and he just met Megan the other day. She was a new student from some city in Oklahoma. Then there was Kristy. His best friend since ninth grade, and it was hard for him to believe their senior year was just weeks away from being over. He often found himself wondering if they would still be friends after high school and he prayed they would.
Just a few days ago she agreed to be his date to their senior prom. A day he couldn’t wait for, not just the chance to go to prom with his best friend, but after being pressured by Shawn he was going to tell her how he really felt about her.
Over the next three weeks, him and Kristy spent time getting everything ready. Buying her dress, then getting him fitted for a tux, and making sure he was matching with her baby blue dress. He made the call to a fancy steak house for reservation, he couldn’t pronounce the name but he did know the cook in front of you and put on a show, and that sounded like a great place to take her.
Saturday night now, seven days from prom, Neil was lying on his bed watching Fast and Furious. He had no idea what was going to happen, that the next five minutes would change everything.
His mom knocked on the door then peeked in “A phone call for you, it’s Kristy.”
Neil got up to get the phone and as soon as he put it to his ear he recognized the crying. Something was wrong; he heard it every time a guy broke up with her. It was a high pitch, but sad cry.
“I can’t go with you Saturday” she managed to spit out between the whimpers. Everything froze. What? Neil couldn’t speak, his mouth didn’t even open, it was as if he wasn’t even in his right mind. This can’t be happening.
He could still hear her whimpering but it seemed like it was off in another world.
“I’m sorry” she said softly, then hung up.
Neil sat on the edge of his bed unaware of what all just happened. He finally hung up the phone and laid back to try and gather his few thoughts together.
Two A.M. Neil had been sleep off and on. Still not sure what to think of earlier.
Something had to be wrong, that’s all he could think about. All his plans went down the drain with a thirty second phone call.
After laying in bed another ten minutes he decided he would find out why she cancelled on him later that day. It just wasn’t like her to do that to him.
It was nine A.M. when Neil rolled out of bed and threw on a pair of pants and the first shirt he grabbed from his closet. Determined to find out what happened he walked in the kitchen to tell his dad he was going to play basketball with some friends. He grabbed his keys and headed out the door.
When his truck pulled into her driveway, Neil’s stomach was in a bunch of knots. He was half worried about her and half scared of getting an answer to his question.
He gave a quick knock on the door and here dad answered, “Is Kristy….” Neil stopped, he saw her on the couch behind her dad, at least he thought he did. It couldn’t have been her. She was wearing a bandana to cover up where her hair use to be.
Neil took a seat beside her when her dad left the room. He didn’t know what to say, he didn’t even know the feeling he felt. Something he never felt before. His body went numb, but he could feel the sadness.
Then she broke the silence, “I found out a few months ago I had cancer.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked sincerely.
“I thought I wasn’t going to have my chemotherapy until this summer but the called in last week and said that I should go as soon as possible.”
Neil put the pieces to together in his head, that’s why she wasn’t at school the last three days.
They spent the next few hours sipping lemonade and talking, talking about everything they could think of. She told him about the stomach pains she had and she had to go back in a few weeks to see if it was all gone.
He finally understood why she didn’t want to go to prom with him and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. Or was there?
The week leading up to prom, Neil spent planning. While every one else was making sure their tux was fitted just perfect, Neil was at home picking out songs.
Just as he expected, Kristy never showed up for school and people began talking, rumors spread like wildfire of various things that could of happened such as a deadly disease or she moved away.
He often found himself wondering what Kristy was doing or how she was feeling. All the other girls were getting manicures, pedicures, and seeing hair stylist, to make sure they looked perfect for Saturday night.
He pictured her sitting on the couch curled up in a little ball under a blanket, watching a romantic movie.
Saturday morning, in a bout ten hours his life would never be the same.
Kristy was sitting on the couch, in her pajamas, watching Dear John, eating a bag of Doritos.
There was a knock at the door, she reluctantly gout up to answer. She slightly opened the door, the Doritos bag fell straight to the floor, “Neil?” She gasped.
The porch light was reflecting off his head, where just yesterday was full of thick brown hair. He held out a hand to grab hers, and with the other hand gave her a rose, although she knew the rose was from her moms flower bed, she began blushing. Looking at his head made a tear trickle down her cheek.
“I’ve got something better than prom for you” Neil said as a smile covered his face.
He held her hand and led her out to the truck.
It was a quiet ride, and she had no idea where he was going, wherever it was he was taking the back roads.
Neil was breathing a little heavier now, unsure of what he should say. This was the longest anyone has ever gone without talking, he thought. Then he ended the record silence by saying “We’re here.”
He pulled up by the river. A small opening in the trees is where he stopped. The moon wasn’t all the way up just yet. It was casting its white reflection across the river.
Then he pulled out a home made CD, “How about one dance?” he asked shyly.
She looked into his eyes for the first time in awhile, she saw a glow that made her forget about everything else in her life going on, “I’d like that” she said as she got out the truck.
As she walked around he grabbed her hand and held her close, he could feel her breathing as the music started:
“I set out on a narrow way, many years ago, hoping I would find true love on the broken rode.”
“My favorite song,” she whispered in his ear. He could tell she was trying to hold back her crying voice.
“I know, it took me forever to download the same song twenty times on this CD” he said jokingly.
He pulled away from her, holding her hands together in his, his heart beat was taking control of his body.
“I don’t know how to say this,” he began.
“I’ve, well, you see we are…” She leaned in to interrupt him, when she did, she pressed her lips softly on his. Neil’s body went completely numb. He had no idea how to react, his hands naturally went to her waist to hold her.
When she pulled away the only sound was the river running by and crickets chirping. “I love you” he said, unaware of how fast he said it.
She smiled looking into his eyes again, “I know.”
“Because you shaved your head” she said leaning in to kiss him one more time.
Two weeks had gone by and it was the moment of truth. Neil was in the waiting room holding her hand as her parents were sitting nervously beside them. The past couple of weeks had been the best of Neils life, with Kristy. He prayed every night that God would take her cancer away.
Finally an older man walked around the corner, with a yellow folder, Kristy’s doctor. Neil wasn’t sure if he was nervous or scared.
He couldn’t see any reaction on the doctors’ face, then he walked up to them.
Kristy squeezed Neil and her moms hand “Am I cured?”