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The heartbreak of it all
Author's note: The book "The Pigman" inspired this, and has a sort-of similar plot.
Sometimes life is hard. Some people make a mountain out of a molehill, and some people pretend the biggest things that ever happened are no big deal. But sometimes, people know exactly where things fall in terms of just how much damage is done. I used to know a girl who knew exactly how bad her problems were. This is my story.
It was about nine months ago, I think, that I met her. We clicked right away. People judged us, since we were, you know, opposite genders. They thought we did stuff, and they assumed the worst. We didn't care, we were best friends. Her name was Amelia Johnson. And on the topic of names, mine’s Jason Anderson.
She was a pretty girl, Amelia, and I’m surprised she wanted me as a friend. I’m just average. Anyways, that’s not the point.
Like I said, nine months ago. We met one night in October. I was in a small cafe in the downtown part of our town. It's not a very big town, either, so this cafe was really the only place to go. The name of it was Cafe de la Terre. Now I don't mean to brag, but we were quite rebellious, when we were still best friends. And when I say were, I don't mean that as if we just stopped being friends.. I'll explaing that later. I'm real sorry if I get off topic often, I'm just like that.
So anyways. Yes, we were rebels. We did some weird things. I remember on halloween, we went out and hid in a tree and dropped candy on kids who passed beneath us. It was funny, because the smallest children thought they were at a candy tree!
Amelia and I went to the same school, and had all the same classes, lucky for us. We took the bus home together, but she got off three stops before me. We would sit together on the bus and talk about weird things just because we can. We would always thing of the wildest ideas we could and everyone else thought we were insane, but we weren't. We were just.. different.
Last December, we were wandering around looking for christmas presents for eachother. We didn't mind knowing what we were getting early. I remember she got me a book about photography, and I got her a pair of mittens made to look like little kittens. It was a good trip. We went back to her hosue afterwards for hot chocolate. Then she had to go to the doctor's for a check-up. She asked me to come wait in the waiting room for her. I did.
The first thing that went bad during our friendship was when she came out of the doctor's office with a really far-away-type-look on her face. She look like she'd just died on the inside. I tried to joke with her to cheer her up, but nothing was working.
“Amelia, want to hear a joke?” I asked with a grin.
“Sure,” she replied, completely emotionless.
“So, there's a farmer in a bar, and a horse walks in. The farmer says, 'Why such a long face?' Get it?” I asked, smiling at my cheesy joke.
“No...” she said, and she sounded wounded, distant.
“'Cause a horse has a long face, literally. Now do you get it?” I explained, enthusiasm lost.
“Uh... yeah. I do. Ha, ha,” she forced an obviously face smile on her porcelain face.
“Amelia... come on. What's wrong?” I asked, now very concerned.
“Nothing... just I didn't get enough sleep last night,” she said, slightly hesitantly.
“You were fine an hour ago...” I said, knowing she was obviously lying.
“Oh,” was all she said. All she said for the entire way back home. We walked silently for what seemed like forever through the graceful snow crystals falling from the clouds. I looked over at her, something was wrong.
We got to her house, finally, and I let her leave.
“See ya,” I said, with a bit of sorrow in my voice.
“Yeah...” all she said. Again. She walked into her house like a zombie and I just stood there for a few minutes, until a white car drove by and snapped me out of my trance.
I wandered home for more hot chocolate, then I was on my Play Station to forget about what
The next day at school was dreadful. Amelia wasn't there. I tried to call her cell, but she didn't pick up, more than once. I was beginning to get worried. One of the girls from school, Heather, kept staring at my like she was trying to shoot me with a damn laser or something.
At lunch I was alone eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and all of a sudden, Heather just walked right up to me. She sat down.
“Where's your girlfriend?” she asked, with a sort of evil smile on her face.
“She's not my girlfriend,” I said, giving her a dirty look to emphasize the fact.
“Don't deny it. Denial is a sign of guilt. You guys are always together, there's no way you aren't dating!” she said, sticking with her bullshit.
“She's my best friend, nothing more. Guys and girls can be best friends, you know,” I said, trying to make a point to this dumb blond b****.
“That's bullshit! I've tried being best friends with a guy,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“Oh, so you must know exactly how every guy-girl friendship is. Right?” I said. Every time I kept looking at her, all I thought was b****.
“Um, yeah, duh, I'm a master when it comes to relationships of any kind between a guy and a girl. Haven't you noticed?” she said, pushing her hair behing her shoulder.
“No. I'm really pretty sure you're not. But I know what you are,” I said, realizing I sounded like an idiot.
“What, then? Tell me exactly what you think I am,” she said, trying to look angry.
“You're just a dumb blond b**** who's wasting air that could be saving someone else. And, as a matter of fact, you're just the type of blond b**** that get hit by food.” I said, giving her a bit of a shock.
“What? Hit by food?” she said, pretending to ignore the insults.
And that was when I did it. I opened my pudding cup, took a spoonful of pudding, and hit that blond b**** in the face with it.
“WHAT THE F***?” she screamed, silencing the cafeteria, and standing up.
“What? Now me calling you a shitface is being completely literal,” I said, just being a smartass now.
“You dumb s***...” she said, wiping off the pudding and walking away. I just out-bitched the biggest b**** anyone has ever met. I felt like I could ride a god damn unicorn for how proud I was. I wondered how proud Amelia would've been if she was there...
People congratulated me for standing up. Heather walked past me a few times and shot dirty looks, but I ignored her. She still had pudding in her hair, but she was too dumb to notice and nobody told her.
I wondered all through Math why Amelia wasn't there. And for the rest of the day, for that matter.
After school, I got off the bus at her stop, and wandered to her house. I knocked on the door three times, as usual, so she would know it's me. Her mom came to the door.
“Hi, Jason...” she said, as if scared of something.
“Is Amelia around?” I asked, glad that I was going to see her.
“Actually, she's in the hospital right now...” she said, looking sad.
“What? What happened? Is she ok?” I asked. I was hit with a shockwave of sadness. She hadn't even told me she was going.
“We're not really sure, right now...” her mom said, trying to grasp my attention. But the next thing she said definitely got my attention.
“Amelia's doctor has diagnosed her with heart cancer,” she said, this bringing a tear to her eye.
I couldn't move, I couldn't respond. Time had come to an absolute standstill. My best friend had heart cancer. What was I supposed to do? I couldn't make her soup and make her feel better, I couldn't give her a present. She had cancer. She really had cancer. I snapped to reality and pinched myself to make sure this was real. It hurt like a b****, so I guess it was.
“Is she.. is she going to be alright?” I asked, with tears welling in my eyes, as well.
“They're not sure... would you like to come in and sit down for my to explain? You look as if you're about to faint,” she said, offering kindly.
I followed her through the Victorian-style house, and into the living room. I sat down on the red couch, which felt like floating on a cloud.
Amelia's mom brought me some warm tea and sat down in an armchair. “You see, the doctors have tried chemo radiation on Amelia, but it was giving her seizures, so they couldn't proceed. She's been having terrible symptoms from the radiation, likely to kill her if they do any more.”
“So she dies either way?” I asked.
“She dies either way. Either the cancer kills her, or the effects of chemo therapy do.”
“Well I'm right, then, my best friend is going to die.”
She tried to explain more to me, but I completely zoned out. Life without my best friend. How hard would it be to make new friends? Who could I be friends with? I didn't know what to do. What to say. I didn't even know if I would be able to keep myself alive if Amelia died. I felt broken inside. Like a toy that a child had outgrown. Like someone who had fallen in love just to lose it all. And that's exactly what happened.
I admitted it to myself, I was in love with my best friend, Amelia Johnson. That's why I was so overwhelmed by the thought she would be gone soon. I needed to see her. To tell her. I needed her to have something decent happen before her internal system killed her. I needed to tell her that I loved her.
The next day I got a bus ride over to the hospital Amelia was in. I asked the secretary about her room and went to see her. When I got to her room, so looked ashamed. She turned her sickly pale face to the wall to avoid eye contact.
“Why didn't you just tell me?” I asked, anxious to know the answer to the biggest question on my mind.
“I didn't want to see you upset...” she said, still facing the wall.
“Amelia, I'm your best friend, you could've told me. It would've hurt and I would've gotten over it but you not telling me makes it worse.”
“Who did what?”
“Who told you?”
“Your mother. I was concerned so I stopped by your house and she told me all about it, I swear I almost passed out on your porch.”
We stayed in silence for a few minutes, but it felt like an eternity passing.
“Hey, Amelia... want to hear a joke?” I asked.
“There's this guy who's in love with his best friend. She gets really sick and doesn't tell him and he wants to just die because he's so upset that the person he loves is in such bad condition.”
“What's so funny about it?”
“That it's my life.”
Another few minutes of silence.
“Hey, Jason, want to hear a joke?” she asked for the first time.
“There's this girl in the hospital dying of cancer who knows she's got little time to live. She's loved this one boy since before they were even friends and all of a sudden he admits that he loves her.”
“And what's funny about that?”
“Nothing. It's the absolute sad truth.”
“You know you're going to die, then?”
“Yeah... I do. I know how long I have, too.” fat tears began to roll down her cheeks.
“And how long would that be?”
“Doctor says less than a week.”
“I doubt that.”
“It's true, he told me himself!”
“No,” I said, “what I mean is that he's wrong. You're the most healthy looking sick person i've ever seen, no way in Hell you've got less than a week. Now get up, we've got things to arrange because you've got school to attend.”
“But, what if they don't let me leave?”
“When have I even listened to someone say no?”
I brought a smile to her face. She got up. I walked over and gave her a kiss on the cheek, and we were out of that hospital.
It was a cold January day and Amelia and I were walking to school together, about three weeks after being in the hospital. She hadn't been killed, but we knew it would happen sooner or later, just not specifically when.
When we got to school, the big b**** was on her usual routine of making fun of Amelia for being the “cancer kid”, which, quite frankly, was NOT funny.
At lunch that day, Amelia and I were sitting in the cafeteria (we were dating at this point, just not publicly). She was eating part of a Mars chocolate bar, when all of a sudden she fell over. Just completely fell. I swear I saw everything flash before my eyes because I automatically thought she'd died. I thought she was dead and i'd never speak to her again.
It turned out she'd just had a heard attack, and was functional just shortly after. I was so relieved it felt like a thousand pounds lifted off my shoulders.
The sad thing is, she died later that night. Nobody even called me about it, so I didn't know until lunch the next day when I was finally alerted about the incident. The heart attack was due to the cancer, and the cancer just took over. I sat there at lunch, in the back corner of the library, crying. I cried and cried until I felt like a god damn desert, and then suddenly I was just another ocean of tears. She was gone for good this time. I wanted to die. I wanted to kill myself but I resolved that it wasn't worth it. Not over one girl. Even if it was my best friend i've ever had...
It's July now, July twenty-seventh to be exact. Tomorrow will be my sixteenth birthday, which I shared with my former best friend...
I'm trying to make the best of it, no matter what has happened. I'm trying to just keep calm and keep my life going, but today, all I can think about is how I never heard from Amelia's family after her death... no funeral, nothing. They just dissappeared. It was terrible. So how can I be sure she's dead? Maybe she just moved. Maybe.
But I doubt it.
It's the middle of the night and my phone is ringing. I hear it ringing and ringing and ringing. I look at the clock and it's precisely two a.m. I pick up the phone and press talk.
“Yes, who's this?”
I sat straight up.
And then I really woke up.
Sometimes life is hard. I'm one of those people who pretends things aren't happening, and so was the love of my life. But hey, you shouldn't, we see how that worked for her.
I'm fine now. A man who dares waste an hour doesn't know what he's going to miss one day.
As said in a famous quote, “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” I think that's what we all need to do.