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I was drifting. Random images floated in front of my eyes, confused, disoriented. I still wandered semi-conscious that I was dreaming. I rolled over in my sleep. Bad idea.
I shot up, groaning. Another bad idea. I froze, breathing slowly, but heavily. Ouch, aching, hurt – what was wrong with me? Perhaps I would find out today – whether my months were numbered twenty or two. I knew, though, that they were limited, no matter what anybody else thought. I could feel it in my bones – in a literal sense.
After the pain had ceased (for the most part), I cautiously knelt on my covers, closed the curtain over my bed, and arose. My eyesight was a little blurry, but eventually the lavender-colored walls of my tiny bedroom became clear again.
Looking in the mirror, I tried to make my wavy, brown hair cooperate, but it was no use. I let it down and stared at my slight figure, trying to imagine myself without my dark blue eyes and pale complexion. I couldn’t do that either.
What to wear? I decided on a black-and-white-striped shirt, a periwinkle blue, short-sleeved blouse, dark blue jeans with fade marks, black, fish-net, fingerless gloves, and black, high-heeled boots.
“Eve? Are you ready?” Mom asked from outside my door, tapping on it lightly.
“Yes, Mom,” I answered after a second, “be right out!” I strode to the door, went down the stairs (ouch, pain, wincing), and ambled out to the car, collecting my backpack, a banana, and some toast en route.
The familiar feeling of guilt, even though I did have all my homework done, crept into my stomach as I walked through the doors. I breathed in the recognizable scent of fresh paper, expo markers, and chalk that I had gotten accustomed to even in the first week back in this place. The sound of people chatting and lockers slamming filled my ears as I stumbled nervously to the latter to get my books for first block – geometry.
“What are you wearing?” The voice came from behind me. I whirled around, and found myself suddenly face-to-face with my ex-friend Amaryllis Cole and her twin, Brad.
“Excuse my if my attire is ill-befitting in your opinion, but as the contents of my wardrobe are not originated from your outlook, I would request that you please keep your abnormally large nose out of my business and your crude observations to yourself.” Long, complicated insults were my forte - besides, it was fun to make my rivals stand there like a bunch of unintelligent, rude, mindless trolls. With that, I stormed angrily to the stairs and stomped, though painfully, up to my first class.
After attempting to memorize particularly loathsome formulas, I attended an exceptionally tedious biology lesson on the molecular substances of poisonous gasses. So, needless to say, I was very happy when the time came for my early dismissal. Time for some more medical tests…yippee. I shuffled up to Mr. Albertson’s desk, gave him my pass, and headed out the door.
I collected my things - homework that I had to make up for the rest of the day, and walked down the hall to the parking lot door. I turned the corner and ran smack-into a boy about a foot taller than me. I looked up to meet dark, green eyes - they had to be contacts. His dark brown hair was arranged in a way that made it look like he just got out of bed, yet neater, somehow. My face betrayed me as I smiled sheepishly.
“Sorry,” I apologized, mumbling, “I wasn’t looking where I was going.”
He held my gaze. “That’s alright,” his voice was low but soft, holding a rather comforting atmosphere. “Are you leaving?”
“Yes,” what did it matter to him? I didn’t know him at all. I don’t even know if I’ve seen him in the halls before. He looked at least a year older than me; maybe that was why. “Why do you ask?”
He shrugged. “I guess I was just curious. I see you sometimes, but you seem to disappear a lot. Why is that? Where are you going?” His eyes pierced me in such a biased way that it irritated me, and I gave up, sighing.
“I have a lot of doctor appointments...by the way, how old are you?”
“Sixteen, in my sophomore year, like you,” he replied, taking me by surprise. “Why so many doctor appointments - are you okay?” His eyes scanned me quickly, as if searching for extra limbs or other abnormalities that he may have missed.
“I bruise easily, and this hurts,” I brushed my hand against the wall, giving minimal pressure. “I get blurred vision and dizzy spells a lot. Perhaps you heard about that girl who passed out in gym on the first day of school this year...?”
He nodded. “Yeah, that was you, wasn’t it? I watched them carry you to the nurse. You’re Eve LeSkyrah, right?” he asked, holding out his hand. I took it, nodding. “I’m Blaize Willterson. So, anything particularly eventful in store for this doctor’s appointment, or are you just going in for a check-up?”
“I’m going to get some tests run. The amazing doctors have spent the past six months trying to figure out what I have, and we’re still slowly running down the lists of rare diseases and whatnot that I might have.”
“I see. Well, good luck with that, then...” He paused for a moment, seemingly hesitant about something, then inquired, “Hey - do you want to talk again sometime? With me? I...umm... enjoy your company.”
The way he put emphasis on the word enjoy was subtle, but I caught it, and agreed. “Sure, that would be nice. When...?”
“How about tomorrow? At Liquid Life?” It was the coffee shop in a little mall on the edge of the downtown of Tacoma, our rainy little town in Washington. I’d never been in it before, just driven past it.
“Alright, great I was thrilled, and knowing what he would ask next, I told him, “I will meet you at the corner of Hillcrest and Adjacent at Four, unless you have something else in mind...?”
“Yeah, um, I have my license, so could I just bring you after school
“Fine, thanks. I’ll see you tomorrow, then.” I smiled appreciatively.
“‘Bye.” He smiled back. My stomach fluttered; that was new.
“‘Bye,” I answered breathlessly, and turned toward the door. With one last look over my shoulder, I saw him, still standing there, staring after me, and waved before disappearing into the parking lot.
“Who is this Blaize? I’ve never even met him and already he’s taking you out on a date!” My mom fussed as I got in the car to go home from the doctor.
“Mom, it’s not a date; I’ve barely even met him either. That’s why I’m meeting him at Liquid Life: we just want to get to know each other! And I told you: Blaize is a boy my age, and you needn’t worry about anything; it’s just the coffee shop, and then he’ll bring me home, no later than six,” I explained, again, frustrated that she was being so difficult.
“I’m not worrying, I just want to know what’s going on,” she retorted, and I let it go. I didn’t want her to ban me from going altogether.
The following day, I figured out that I had Blaize in both my art and my English class. I caught him staring at me several times. Finally, the last bell rang, and I half-walked, half-ran to my locker, eager to be ready when Blaize came by to collect me.
I got my books together, stuffed them in my backpack, grabbed my jacket, closed my locker, and nearly jumped out of my skin. Blaize was standing right there, waiting for me behind my locker door. He stretched his lips into a sort of half-smile that inevitably made me do the same.
“Ready?” he asked.
“I am now,” I replied, and we walked down the hall and out the door. I followed him to his car, which was a Saturn Aura, he told me, and was really his dad’s car. The drive across town took about ten minutes, during which we asked each other the kind of questions you would ask in a getting to know you activity in kindergarten: favorite color, favorite food, animal, etc.
When we arrived and found a seat at the shop, he asked all the questions. He asked about my parents, and I had to calm him down after I informed him of my father’s death when I was eight months old, he was really freaking out.
“Don’t worry about it,” I assured him, “I never really knew my dad, so you don’t have to feel sorry about it. Besides, it’s not your fault or anything. It happens.” He still wasn’t over it, though, and was a bit more cautious the rest of the time, as though he was expecting me to burst into tears or something. He slowly let it go.
It wasn’t until we’d been in the coffee shop for an hour that I started to ask the questions.
Answering my curious inquiries without hesitation, he told me that he was an only child also, living with his parents only a few blocks from my house, surprisingly. He sometimes played electric guitar or piano on rainy days. Otherwise, he liked to go biking in the summer, skiing in the winter, and just building things every time between. I found him very interesting and amazingly easy to talk to. He bought us a small dinner, and soon it was quarter to six. We stepped out of Liquid Life and to his car.
“That was great,” I commented. I was full and warm as I hopped into the passenger seat. “I think we should do that again sometime. It’s good to have someone to talk to once in a while.
“Yes,” he agreed as he pulled out of the parking lot. “I enjoyed that very much, and look forward to next time, also.”
We sat in calm contentment for a minute or two, then Blaize broke the silence and asked, “So, Eve… you’re still unsure about your health situation?”
“Yes, my test results from yesterday have not come back yet,” I informed him. “The list of symptoms they read off didn’t really sound right, anyway. I’m sure they’ll be negative. My next appointment is next Monday.”
“Oh, okay. I wasn’t sure. You’ re okay, though, right? I mean, you’re not just going to drop dead, right?” He tried to make his half-joke sound reassuring, but I could hear anxiety in his voice, too.
“I don’t know the answer to either of those questions, but we can always hope, right?” was all I could come up with. Pretty pathetic, I know. Apparently, he thought so, too.
“I think I can do a bit more than hope,” he told me, taking his eyes off of the road to glance over sideways at me and grinning. He pulled up in front of my house. “I’ll see you tomorrow in school?” It was a question, not a statement.
“You bet,” I promised, and made to get out of the car, but a hand caught my arm and held me there firmly, but gently.
I looked around, and found myself staring into his dark, green eyes. They weren’t contacts, he’d told me earlier, and I still found his eyes to be amazing. Now his face was inches from mine, and I began to breathe a bit heavier.
“Take care of yourself,” he half-whispered, “I hope you have a good night’s sleep. Sweet dreams.” Then, he was kissing me, and I lost it completely. I don’t know if it was seconds or years later when we broke apart. He got out, strode over to my side, and opened my door, breaking me out of my reverie. Still a little stunned, I got out unsteadily, a bit more unsteadily than normal, that is, and flounced to my front door.
“See you tomorrow,” I called, “goodbye!”
“Goodbye!” he replied, and drove away.
Over the next couple weeks, things changed a bit, since Blaize had entered my life, and we grew closer. We met every Tuesday, and sometimes on Saturdays, too. We met at Liquid Life, the park, another café, or a small restaurant that was near our houses
Unfortunately, there is always something that comes up when things are getting too good to be true, though. My… problem, disease, whatever, is getting worse. Things like walking, and even sitting, are really starting to ache. I’ve gotten prescription glasses for my blurry vision, but they don’t help much. I’ve been just flat out falling over – with nothing to trip on, mind you – repeatedly, too dizzy to stand. It’s especially hard on Blaize, who hates not being able to do anything about it. He even started complaining, saying that the doctors are dumb and need to figure something out sooner. Finally, one day about a month after we first met, I snapped.
I really liked Blaize. I liked him very much – loved him. This was why I did what I did. It hurt him (emotionally) to be around me – more than it hurt me, and that’s saying something – suffering as I was (physically). So, I did what I had to do.
Blaize and I were walking (for me, attempting to) in a park near my house when I turned to him and told him the words I had never wanted to tell him before.
“Blaize, this isn’t going to work at the moment.” My eyes stung, but I blinked back the tears (for now) and struggled to fight my voice.
“Why?” He whispered his inquiry, his face solemn.
“Because I can’t do this to you anymore,” I answered honestly. “Until I find out exactly what’s wrong with me, I really don’t think that I should be getting so deep in this relationship. Once I get to that point, I’ll be back, and we can continue at least as we were before, I promise. Don’t get me wrong; I still love you a lot; I just don’t want to make you watch me suffer. It isn’t right.” My voice was quavering now, and Blaize just shook his head.
“Eve…” His voice was so melancholy and full of grief; I had never heard him like this before.
“I’m so sorry,” I whispered, close to his face so that I could whisper in his ear. “So sorry. I love you.” I kissed him and he embraced me tightly, but I gently pulled away, wincing, gave him a mournful yet tender (or so I hoped) look, and hobbled away awkwardly.
The next day, I went to another appointment, this one with a doctor who specifically studies rare diseases. She is running some tests, whose results will come in a couple more days, she informs me.
When I get home, I go straight to bed, even though it is only seven o’clock. It is Spring Break now, and tomorrow is Saturday.
I wake up, eat breakfast, and start my homework. That lasts until lunch. I eat, finish my homework, watch a movie, and read until supper. After dinner, I watch another movie (this time my mom joins me), and go to bed.
Sunday morning, I get up, eat breakfast, and go to church. We discuss second Corinthians, chapter five – reconciliation. My mom and I run some errands, and then go home again. I eat lunch, read some more, practice the piano and violin, then help go get dinner ready. I eat, read, and go to sleep.
There go two completely uneventful days.
On Monday morning, Mom and I get a call from the “rare disease doctor”, who sounds concerned. So, we drive over there quickly, wanting to know what the results were, so we could discuss the “next steps”.
“I have tested Eve for five different diseases, and four of them tested negative,” she explained, and my mom and I waited anxiously.
The doctor then turned to face away from us and said the name of the positive-tested disease. It sounded like garbly-gook to me, and I forgot it almost instantly. The doctor’s list of symptoms matched exactly, and that was enough for me. I was happy that they had solved my puzzle and I could finally be treated for it.
And then, I was hit.
“The four illnesses that tested negative were forgiving,” she made it clear, plain as day, and I could easily hypothesize what her next statement would be. “This one, however, is not.” I was right. She went on, “There is no cure and there are minimal treatment options. It is extremely rare, and the patients never live long enough for us to study it; it works quickly. Eve, I’m so sorry. You may have as little as one week to live, given your current condition. A month, at most, I would say.”
Slam. Boom. I was slapped, struck down, stabbed, shot, sliced, cut up into a million –no, a billion, pieces, then burned.
My mom wept as she took me home. For once, my tears would not come. I told my mom that there was something I had to do; there was. I had made a promise. There was reconciliation to be made. So, after allowing mom to hug me, I went to my room. I hurriedly wrote down everything that I could think of as my last words in my journal; these were the last things that I wanted to say to everybody I knew. Then, I would straighten things out with Blaize. When I was done with my “will”, “death speech”, whatever you want to call it, I permitted my mom to embrace me once more before I began to shamble to Blaize’s house, not wanting to take the car for a few blocks – and not trusting my feet to drive. I wanted to get this done now, and I wanted to go alone.
There were three intersections that I needed to cross. Two were dormant, nearly always deserted, and the last was one of the busiest in town. The latter was next to Blaize’s house, which was on the corner. But I was not thinking about cars or intersections or business right now; I was thinking only of how I would apologize to Blaize, to resolve the conflict that I had created. I had made a promise to do so, to come back to him when I found out what was going on, and I still had regrets to eliminate.
I stumbled as swiftly as I could, though the pain was becoming almost unendurable. Almost. I got to the first intersection… then the second… and eventually the third.
I could see his house now. The sky-blue siding and lavender shutters stood out, a contrast to the whites, yellows, and tans of the surrounding houses. I walked until I reached the street, then kept on walking, mind absent of all thoughts except one: Almost there.
And I forgot to look both ways at one of the busiest intersections in town.
And I still had regrets.
Epilogue: Forever Midnight
I was looking out the window. I had no particular reason for doing this, really. Just boredom, I guessed. I missed Eve. I worried about her.
Then I saw her. I shook my head; I must be imagining her, thinking about her too much. I blinked, but she was still there, hobbling towards my house. What was she doing? Had she gotten a diagnosis, finally?
I saw it coming before it happened. I ran to the door, yanked it open, and darted outside just in time to see Eve step out onto the highway. And I had no time even to yell her name before a large blue van came hurtling through the intersection. It struck her, kept going for about a hundred feet, then stopped. I reached out my hand to her fallen body as I sprinted toward her. I could not believe it. I would not believe it. Just because she had gotten hit by a van in her condition and was not moving did not mean that she was… I shuddered. She could make it through this, she was tough. The driver of the van seemed to be calling nine-one-one as I dodged the cars that were now slowing down to bypass the stationary van. I finally reached Eve’s unconscious body and sank to my knees beside her. Her head gave the impression of having been cracked open and one of her legs broken, but it was hard to tell amid all the blood. Blood did not bother me usually, but it did when it was sucking the life from the person I loved so much. Cuts and bruises littered her legs and arms. I took her beat-up hand, her wrist, and searched for a pulse.
I must have looked in the wrong spot; I tried to think in a confident way, but I was failing miserably. But I wouldn’t believe that she was dead, not yet.
I checked her other wrist, her neck, and placed my head on her unmoving chest to listen, panic-stricken, for her heart. She wasn’t breathing. There was no pulse. I cried out in despair. This couldn’t be happening.
I picked up Eve’s broken, loose body as an ambulance pulled up. The paramedics piled out of the truck and came to me, asked if she was still breathing, eyed her doubtfully. I shook my head and managed to say, "She’s gone" before my voice broke.
* * *
It was a week after the accident, and by now I knew everything. Eve had been on her way to see me, to tell me that she was going to die anyway and that she wanted to set things right, as she had promised. Her time had merely come earlier than she had anticipated. In her journal, she also said that she loved me. I loved her, too. But she requested that I move on after she died. I will do anything she wanted me to. Because I love her, and that won’t ever change. I hope she knew that.