by Nicole Paige
Short Story intended to show my best guy friend how much I actually cared about him.
| The biggest chance in life that a person could miss is the chance to live. Living is getting the chance to challenge yourself to the fullest extent, to do something you've always dreamed of doing, to have no regrets when death decides to take its dues. The problem with that being, most people don’t actually live. Life is constantly spent puttering around every day on the same schedule, doing the same everyday tasks. Only a few, very lucky people are able to enjoy the fulfillment of living life.
Sarah’s baby blue eyes watched as she followed the small child across the room. She couldn't have been much older than four and yet her bald head was covered with the bandana Sarah was positive the girl knew all too well. Her skin was pale and sickly, not like a child’s should be. A tall, brown haired man that Sarah supposed was her father smiled as he watched her play. His sparkling white teeth shined, yet his eyes screamed in pain. He picked up another block, waited for her to tell him “there Daddy,” and placed it on the tower. A handful of other parents watched as their children played with an array of toys. Either the father knew that his child’s life was coming to an end or all the other parents were too deep in their own sorrows to spend the time with their children. I couldn't handle it. Children are supposed to outlive their parents. She’s so young. Sarah thought, crossing her hands over the book in her lap.
“Sarah Varn” A nurse called out Sarah’s name from the door on the far right. Carefully maneuvering around the blockade of Lego’s Sarah made her way back to the doctor’s office. The pale white paint seemed to glorify every last speck of dirt that landed upon it. The white tile floors were seemingly spotless, as well as the countertops. I guess they need to keep the place looking somewhat clean. How they have a place looking so much like a doctor’s office in the middle of the hospital is beyond me.
Two knocks echoed off of the door. “Hello Sarah. How are you feeling today?” A tall, slender male walked into the room. He wore a blue dress shirt with a Sponge Bob tie.
I’m in the oncology unit of the hospital, watching little kids who are at the brink of their death. How do you feel every day? “I’m fine. The breathing hasn’t gotten harder. Not better either. I’m not coughing blood anymore though.”
“Yes, I think that was mainly due to the trauma that you said you had experienced.” Getting hit with a door is now considered trauma? What is a car wreck considered? The doctor flipped through the pages of Sarah’s chart. “Any new symptoms?”
“The fact that you’ve called me back here tells me that Cancer is probably a new one. If not you would have referred me to a different doctor. I wouldn’t be in the oncology unit.”
“You seem to have accepted the news before you have had the chance to listen to it.” He looked up from the chart, his bright blue eyes studying Sarah’s face. Accepted what? Death?
“Death is inevitable. Lately it seems like cancer is too. Just happens to be that death can come and go more easily than cancer does. I may only be nineteen, but I’ve lived long enough to know what is going to happen and what might.” I have cancer. I will die. It’s just a matter of time.
“It says here that you do not have any family members with cancer.”
“Not that I know of. My mother died when I was seven. I never knew what it was due to. She was sick. She seemed to have a constant, mild sickness. Until the very end when she went downhill fast. I suppose it was not cancer because she never lost her hair or turned that sickly…clear…color that cancer patients seem to always be.” Sarah now let her thoughts flow freely out of her mouth.
“That does not mean she did not have cancer. It meant she didn’t get treatment for it.”
“It wouldn’t shock me. That would be my mother for you. What are my treatment options.”
“Well, I would like to let you know we have the best oncology unit in the state and intend to do everything we can for you.”
“Yeah, tell me what I want to hear. I don’t care about the fluff. I’m a college student, not a five year old.”
“It is the truth. We will do all we can.”
Sarah rolled her eyes. “Just tell me what are my choices.”
“Well, lets take a look at these first so you can understand what I am talking about.”
Rummaging through the several papers in her chart, he comes across two black sheets-her x-rays. Holding them up to the light a smear of white, where there should have been black shined across Sarah’s right chest and up into her shoulder. This is the end of me.
“There is too much there for us to remove. We would have to remove almost your entire lung, which is just not possible. Its now spread into your lymph nodes under your arms. Most doctors confuse this as what seems like a swollen lymph node for an infection instead of cancer.”
“Who would want to think or diagnose someone with cancer?” Sarah traced her fingertip across the image as if trying to remove the cancer by her touch.
“It’s not a happy job, trust me. So, your treatment would have to go back to radiation and chemotherapy. Hopefully with both of them combined you would last another six months or so.”
“How long do I have without treatment?”
“Well we certainly do not suggest no treatment. However, if you were to choose that path, you would only have about six months left of your life.”
“Six months in good shape is worth more to me than a year being sick.” Not that my dogs will care much whether I am sick or not.
“Your final months will be a lot harder without treatment.” And that is when I will come back here and get pain medication.
“I will be fine.”
“Well think about it and call the office if you decide to get treatment.”
“Have a nice day.”
Sarah walked out of the office, leaving nothing but her thoughts behind. The office would never get a phone call to accept treatment options. Her feet treaded down the street, making little noise as her thought ran over the conversation repetitively. Flipping her cell phone in her hands she dialed a quick number and hit the end key. Tossing the phone into a bush planted in a little clump of soil along the sidewalk, she kept walking. Her entire world had fallen apart in a matter of minutes. I’m seventeen years old. I’m in college. God I love college. It’s all going to disappear. I’m going to disappear. The red brick building she knew for so long as home came upon her path. My home and my casket. Giving the door man a smile as she stepped through the door Sarah disappeared.
A howling wakened Sarah. Baby blue eyes stared at her from the corner of the mattress. Tiny white hairs covered the black sheets, making them look white instead of black. Sarah looked around, examining her room. The blanket, a tangled heap of fabric, covered the floor. In the silence a quite ring could be heard. And another. And another.
“Hey, so I’ve been calling for like a week now. No answer. The phone doesn’t even ring anymore. I don’t care if you are mad at me. Could you just answer? Anyway, I’ll be back in town tomorrow.” Don’t want to talk. Won’t see you tomorrow.
Tossing off the sheets that remained on the bed, Sarah turned and touched her feet against the cold wooden floor. Standing, and walking across the room where the black phone rang, beeping. Grabbing the cord that connected the phone to the wall Sarah unplugged it. Takes care of that problem. The same howling that woke Sarah rang again.
“Yeah I know Spike. I’ll be there in a minute.”
Sarah turned, examining her naked body in the mirror across the room. The toned body that was once hers was slowly disappearing. The lines that ran from the center of her stomach all the way down were no longer evident beneath the layers of skin. Her long brown hair crossed over her shoulders and down her chest. The strands were intertwined with each other making what seemed like a never ending disaster of knots.
Tossing a shirt on over her body Sarah walked into the kitchen directly across from her room. The dog food bag has barely anything in it. I have to go out. Maybe I’ll get Evan to do it…I suppose I would have to talk to him then. “I have to get you food buddy. I will go out tomorrow.” She poured the last of the food into the steel bowl on the floor. “There you go boy.” Reaching into the refrigerator Sarah pulled out a carton of orange juice. Much like the dog food, it was down to the last bit. She took the final sip, placed the empty carton on the counter and walked back into her bedroom. Five months, three weeks to live.
“Hey. I know you are in there, just open the door.” Three hard thumps against the door could be heard from Sarah’s bedroom. “I know you saw me the other day. Answer Sarah. Please?” Evan started to plead with Sarah, his voice becoming weak with sorrow.
“Hold on.” Sarah gave in to the voice at the door. “I’ll be there in a minute.” Tossing on the same shirt she wore for most of the two weeks she has been at her house, she went to the door and opened it. Standing on the other side, wearing a black t-shirt and torn jeans, stood Evan. God I love him. He’s so handsome. The thick black hair on his head that was usually slicked back stood in random positions. “Are you okay?” Sarah reached out her hand, pulling him in the door.
“No, not really. I go out on a business trip for a week and then my girlfriend disappears for three.” He stepped into her living room and sat on the couch, grabbing the television remote. He reached down, starting to pull off his shoes and then stopped himself when he realized the dog feces that were piled up on the mat near the door. “What has been going on with you? I’ve talked to your professors. They don’t even know what is going on.”
“They won’t. I’m not going back to college.”
“Why is that?”
“Well, I guess I need to talk to you.” Sarah paused for a moment. How do I tell this to him? “Remember how I told you my Mom died?” Sarah went over to Evan and sat down beside him, looking into his baby blue eyes.
“Yeah, she was fine and then she got sick…really sick and passed away. Why?”
“I think she had cancer.” It took a few minutes for the words to affect Evan. As soon as they did he wrapped his arms around Sarah’s waist.
“That’s so sad. I’m sorry. That isn’t any reason to lock yourself away though.”
“That isn’t why I’ve disappeared.” I can’t tell him this. It’s going to hurt him too much. “I have it, too.”
“No, no, no way. You can’t have it. It isn’t hereditary.” Instantly, as if Sarah’s words had unleashed a broken faucet in Evan’s head his eyes swelled up with tears.
“It isn’t, but it makes me more susceptible to it. Come here.” Sarah reached out and pulled Evan into her chest. “Don’t cry. It’s going to be fine.”
“Am I going to lose you?”
“Six months.” Actually five months two weeks, but you don’t need to know that.
Sarah woke up to the greasy aroma of bacon being cooked in the kitchen. Spike, now at the foot of her bed, rather than on the floor, jumped at the movement of her feet. Pulling a pair of shorts on over her undergarments Sarah walked over to Evan and wrapped him in her arms.
“Hey handsome. How are you doing.”
“You know what?”
“I love you.”
“I love you too, but I never would have thought that I would have been staying every night with you this soon.”
“Is that a problem?”
“Absolutely not!” He turned around, spinning Sarah in a circle. Their lips met with a loving embrace.
“So I was thinking last night.” Sarah said once they pulled away from each other. “I think we should do something…crazy.”
“Really? Crazy? What’s your definition of crazy?”
“I have another three years of tuition money saved up for college.”
“I’m not going to use it for college. I think we should travel.”
“Okay.” Evan pretended to pull out an array of travel brochures from his pants pocket. “Italy? Germany? Japan? France?” He flipped through the imaginary pages.
“I don’t know, I just don’t think I can watch another movie again. We’ve seen Tarzan four times this week.”
“Hey! That’s a good movie!” He laughed and tossed the brochures across the room.
Sarah was quiet for a second, thinking. “Yeah, I guess I would have to agree.”
“It sounds like a plan to me, babe. Don’t you need to talk to your siblings?”
“They don’t even know I had a doctor’s appointment the other day. As far as they know I’ve fallen off the face of the Earth.”
“You don’t want to tell them?”
“No. I want this to be you, me, and the world.”
Off to see the world. Five months one week to live.
The blood splattered the walls of the bathroom and the white tile floor. Sarah’s lung felt as if it was going to explode. She slowed her breathing and gathered her thoughts. Get it together. We can’t die here.
“Babe, are you okay in there?”
“Yeah, I’ll be out in a minute.” Sarah rushed to clean up the blood in the foreign bathroom. Taking a damp towel that she had used to dry her hair she wiped up the mess. Looking into the mirror she checked to see if the blood was splattered on her face anywhere. No bright red spots shined in the pale light. Still protecting him from what he already knows. Sarah quietly opened the bathroom door and walked over to Evan, who was still sitting on the hotel bed. His head faced the ground, thinking. “It’s time to go home.” The words were forced out of Sarah’s mouth as Evan’s head turned up and his eyes met hers. “I need to say goodbye.” These words pierced Evan’s heart, making him wince. Please don’t give me that face. I can’t help it.
“No, not yet.” Evan struggled to accept what she had said. “You sure you don’t want to see anything else? I could borrow the money, too.” Evan attempted to make the time left with Sarah last a little bit longer. Every minute counted for him.
“I still have some money left. I need to go home. It’s time. We’ve seen the world. Italy. Expensive Italy. Germany and all the awful artifacts still standing there. Paris. Who doesn’t love Paris? Japan on the other side of the world. We’ve seen it all. We even went home to New York and California.”
“I was with you babe and that’s okay. That’s up to you. I’ll take you home.” Evan gave in, reminding himself that it was his job to make her happy in the final weeks of her life.
“It isn’t goodbye for us just yet. You can leave if you want to, but I’d like you here with me.”
“I will be here with you until the end. Come on, I’ll buy the tickets.” A silent tear rolled down Evan’s cheek. There was a time when he wouldn’t show his emotions to Sarah, but now that time had come and gone. The pain could be seen through his eyes. It was suffocating him, drowning him along with her pain.
Two weeks to live and an entire family to say and the final goodbyes start.
A dark brown coffin was placed in the center of the room. An entire garden of flowers surrounded it, each one brought by a mourning family member or friend. Kneeling beside the open casket was Evan. His hair was slicked back and he was wearing a black suit. The baby blue eyes that were so sensitive were blotted with red due to the tears that ran freely down his cheeks. The priest they had arranged stood at the podium.
“Three days after this child has deceased we ask you Lord to bring her up to your kingdom and the place where she belongs.” His words were so faint, so ordinary it seemed unfair for Sarah to be put down with such little uniqueness. “Would anyone like to say a few words to the people here today?”
“Yes I would.” Evan spoke. His voice was clear but the hurt in his eyes demolished any chance of him convincing the people he was okay. “Sarah.” He turned and looked toward the body in the casket. She was turned so that her arms could cross her chest. In between her fingers was the cross that hung over her bed. Her face was matted with several layers of makeup, making her look more like a doll than a human. “I would just like to say that Sarah died way too young. She lived more than most of you ever will. I know I should have informed you of her death but that was not her wish. She lived those last few moments. Cry and mourn as I will myself. But what you shouldn’t do is walk away from here thinking that she didn’t do anything with her life. She’s a wonderful girl. This ring will stay with me until the day I die.” Evan held up his left hand, showing the band that was wrapped around his ring finger, her last gift to him before she passed.