Haley Urban is ready to die. Could Adam change her mind, and give her one last hope?
|Chapter 1 - If I Die Young
"Haley! I can't see him!" My little brother, Malcolm whines.
We are at my other brother, Nathan's High School graduation. I am holding Malcolm's hand as he cranes his neck and stands on his tiptoes to look at the stage as the graduating students line up for their diploma.
"Okay, bud. Nathan's about to get on the stage. Come on, hop on my shoulders quick." I kneel in front of him and position his legs between my shoulders securely.
"Mom, take my bag." I motion for my mom to get my bag from my shoulder. I get up.
"Haley, why don't you bring him down, and I'll carry him." My dad suggests.
"Dad, Malcolm weighs nothing." I say, chuckling. It's true, he's just two, so I don't mind his weight. Malcolm starts giggling. When I look up, I see that Nathan is about to climb the stage.
"Nathan Urban." My family starts cheering. Nathan receives his diploma, and faces the students and their families. When he spots us, he flashes his brightest smile-his trademark.
After the ceremony, I quickly scan the place where the students are seated to look for Nathan. When I can't see him, I'm about to ask for Malcolm for help when I hear Nathan approaching from the other side.
"Nathan!" I exclaim running to hug him. "Congratulations."
"Thanks", he answers cheekily. "Where is the little man?" He asks scanning the crowd. "There you are!"
"Nathan!" Malcolm runs towards us. Nathan easily picks him up.
"So, is there a party you have to be at?" I ask, knowing pretty sure that there will be a party at Jake's, Nathan's bestfriend.
"Nah." He says. Then sighs dramatically, "I'm supposed to be at a certain family dinner. Boo." He complains but he is smiling so wide, that I actually smile too, but somehow it turns into a sad smile. I am going to miss him so much when he leaves for college. Nathan notices my face and hugs me, while still carrying Malcolm.
"I'm going to miss you too." He says, guessing what I am thinking about.
"I'm going to miss you too, Nathan." Malcolm tightens his hold on Nathan. He is about to cry too. And then, he blurts, "can I have your room?" I burst out laughing, together with Nathan. Give it to Malcolm to change the mood. He is so adorable.
"Kids!" We hear our mom getting our attention. We turn into her direction and see that dad is holding his camera, pointing at us. He beams, "Smile!"
The three of us, Nathan, Malcolm and me, look at each other. We don't need to count to three. We know the drill. Together, we face the camera, and give the brightest smile-Nathan style.
"Haley?" Margaret stares at me for a moment as I turn my attention back to her.
"You spaced out there for awhile. Did you hear my question? You want me to repeat it?"
"No. I heard you. I was just thinking the answer to that one." I assure her. I look at the ceiling, not sure if I could answer her. She never pressures me. But maybe this time, it's what I need. To just talk.
"Well?" She prods.
"My fondest memory probably would be the high school grduation of my brother Nathan."
"I don't really know. It just popped. And I have a picture at my room of me and my brothers together at that same day. I really love that picture," I shrug.
"How about the saddest memory?"
I snap at that question. Isn't it obvious. Did she really have to ask that? I stand up.
"Can I go home now? I don't feel well." I say, standing up. I see her cringe at my tone. But I don't really care. I don't know if she actually expects me to answer her last question.
"Sure." She stands up as well. "Same time next week?"
I just nod and walk out of her clinic. Just as I open the door, she calls for me. I turn.
"You'll be fine." I don't react to that. I just turn around, and get the hell out of that room.
I go out of the building and immediately hit by the cold air. I start to walk towards home. I am supposed to call my mom after the session, so she could pick me up. But I can't actually deal with the car ride home with her asking questions how the session went. Just then, I feel my phone starts vibrating. I sigh and start rummaging through my bag. When I look at the screen, I frown. Why would Alison be calling me? I stopped hanging out with her and my other bestfriend, Amy months ago. I let it go to voicemail. After a few moments, I receive a text.
Championship game tonight. Will you come? Please?- Al
I sigh. Ofcourse it's tonight. That's why I've been moody the whole day. But she knows I can't come. I sigh again and walk home.
"I'm home!" I call out as I enter the house. I get home in just a few minutes, since my parents chose the nearest clinic to our house. "It's bad for your health if you would have to ride long", they reasoned.
I find mom in the kitchen, preparing some snacks. "Hey honey." She says as my brother comes running down the stairs.
"Haley!" He cries as I open my arms to hug him. "Hey, little man."
I notice my mom checking her watch. "Honey, you got home early. How was work?"
When I started my therapy sessions with Doctor Margaret a few months ago, I asked my parents not to mention it to Malcolm. Although my mom reassured me that the boy won't understand it yet because of his age, I know my brother. He will worry for sure. I don't want that to happen. So we told Malcolm that once a week- for the schedule of my sessions- I will be working at the Public Library nearby.
"Tiring, but fine." I answer. I am not really in the mood to talk about it. I am more excited to play with my brother. I sense that my mom wants to press me more about it so I turn to my brother. "Hey, Mal, how was your day? I bet it's a lot exciing than mine."
He begins telling me about his day animatedly. About the basketball game he just watched. And about how he is amazed with the winning shot that Kobe did. While he is showing me his 'new technique' in shooting courtesy of Kobe, I just watch him. He is so happy shooting balls, loving his favorite sport. And in that moment, I am happy. Happy for him. But sad, for me. I was just like that; happy. Spending hours at the garden just practicing my serve with my favorite volleyball. Sometimes with Mal cheering me on. I was happy then. What happened? That happened. I sigh. Then before I change my mind, I decide to do something that I haven't done for a long time.
"Hey, mom?" I turn to my mom, who just finished fixing sandwiches.
"Yes?" She motions for me and Mal to sit in the booth in front of her, giving us our sandwiches.
"What time will dad be home?" I ask as I pick on my sandwich. I am not hungry but I know mom will just persuade me to eat anyway. It has always been like that for awhile; me not having an appetite, and mom giving me the look. One time she resorted with tears.
"The usual, why?"
"There's a volleyball game tonight. Championship, actually. I was wondering if dad can give me a ride to school to watch the girls play."
"That's great honey!" She beams. It saddens her that i needed to quit playing, but it devastates her that I decided to stop watching games. She just doesn't understand why I did it.
And now that I start to think again why I stopped watching, I'm beginning to get anxious. Can I do it? Enter that gym? One look at my mom, I get my answer- I will try. She looks happy, for me. Even my brother is beaming beside me.
"Okay. Finish that sandwich, and get some rest. I'll wake you when dinner's ready." My mom commands. And before I complain that I want to play with Mal first, she continues, "Honey, if you're going to watch the game tonight, you should rest. You walked home, didn't you? Malcolm, you let Haley rest first, okay?"
I hate it when mom's right. Which lately, always. I face my brother. "See you at dinner, bud." I kiss his head and head to my room.
I wake up hearing hushed voices just outside my room. Mom and dad.
"Have you asked her about Doctor Margaret?" My dad asks my mom.
"Not yet. She got home early so I assume it didn't go well. She seemed upset." Mom sighs.
"That's been happening lately."
I'm just worried about her, Robert."
"I know. Me too."
I stop listening after that. From the position they re in-just outside my door- I assume that they just checked in my room. I enter my bathroom, wishing to shut down their conversation. I hate that the worry too much about me. In my opinion, there's no point.
I wave goodbye to Malcolm as dad gets in the car. The ride to school is quiet. I know my dad wants to ask me questions, but I know he understands that if I want to talk, I will approach him first. Although my mom and me are pretty close, my relationship with my dad is much deeper. Maybe because I got most of my personalities from him, and we got along better when I was growing up. My mom always says that she got his another husband in me.
As we reach the entrance of the school, I ask my dad to drop me off. He would just have difficulty in getting out of the school because of all the cars piling up inside because of the game tonight.
"Thanks, dad. Bye." I unbuckle my seatbelt.
"Hales, maybe I-"
"Dad, for the hundredth time, I don't need for you to come with me. It's just a game. I'll have my phone with me. I'll just ask Amy or Alison for a ride home. And if in the middle of the game that I feel tired, I'll call you. Okay?"
Since dinner, my dad has been asking if he could come with me, just so we can have our bonding moments again according to him. But I know he just worries something might happen to me.
My dad sighs. "Okay, okay. Just promise me you'll have fun. I'm glad you decided to start to watch again. I know it's hard for you to see them play. What happened today? What brought this on?"
"This. You deciding to watch the girls."
I think about it for a minute. He looks really hopeful. He thinks I'm bouncing back. But I'm not. On the contrary I've been sinking. Fast. And I know deep inside, it would take alot more that a shrink to bring me back. In this moment, that I know might not happen again, I want to give him my most honest answer. I just give him that.
"I just thought it might be the last time I'll be able to watch the girls play, you know? So why not?"
"Haley," Dad starts. I know what will come next. For months we've been saying that to each other. But, I don't believe it anymore. So, before he says I'll get better-ome day at a time- I cut him off.
"Dad, i'ts true. I might die tomorrow. Or the next day. I have cancer, and I'm not gonna get better. I'm coming to terms with it. Maybe you should too."
And with that, I get out of the car, slam the door, and walk away.
Lord make me a rainbow, I'll shine down on my mother
She'll know I'm safe with you when she stands under my colors
Oh, and life ain't always what you think it ought to be, no
Ain't even gray, but she buries her baby
The sharp knife of a short life
Well, I've had just enough time
If I die young, bury me in satin
Lay me down on a bed of roses
Sink me in the river at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song.
--- If I Die Young by The Band Perry