Author: Autumn Reflections PM
He didn’t last over a week and a half. My best friend was dying and it took me eleven years to realise that I loved him. One shot.Rated: Fiction T - English - Tragedy - Words: 4,148 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 3 - Published: 09-21-06 - id: 2250426
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Mum bought in my coffee while I was sleeping, as she liked to do. She knew that I was too lazy too make my own, besides, I didn't know how to work the coffee machine; it was a mystery to me. The coffee had cooled down and a thin layer of cream had appeared at the top, so I put it back down on my bedside table and looked back out the window. There wasn't much happening. Children were leaving to go to school with their blue hats on and a bag filled with toys and food. It wasn't interesting, but I liked to watch people. Mum had gone to work, and she left a note beside the coffee she made me before leaving.
'I called school and told them you were sick. Aren't I nice to lie for you? You owe me the laundry and the dishes. Noah is expecting a visit too. I will call your mobile around lunch time if there isn't an answer at home. Love you, Mum.'
I smiled. I was intending to wag school for the day anyway but Mum always knew when I was going to wag. I still don't know how she understood me, but every time I woke up and decided to not go to school and visit Noah, she left a note saying the same thing, that she called up school and a list of the chores I had to do before visiting him.
Noah was my best friend. I met him when I was five, when my Mum was first diagnosed with breast cancer. I didn't understand what I was wrong, only that she was sick and it was more serious that we could imagine. We were in and out of hospital a lot. I was almost pulled out of school until my elder cousin Caelum decided to drop me off each morning so I wouldn't get kicked out for missing too many classes. After school I walked to the hospital which wasn't far from there, about a ten minute walk. For a kid my age it was a bit of a trek, but I did it for her.
I met him when I got lost one time. I told the receptionist that I could find her room on my own and I guess I was over confident. I ended up on the other side of the hospital in the ICU. The people in there scared me, since they were near death and so badly wounded. There was this only woman in there, her skin was purple and blue from lack of oxygen and bruises. Her fingers were bunched up from arthritis and from fractures. She reach out to me with an oxygen mask over her mouth, breathing in deeply so the hair on the back of my neck prickled. She terrified me, so I turned and ran into a private room across the hall. None of the nurses noticed me for they rushed to the old woman to make her lay back down.
"Who are you?" called a voice from behind me; he sounded just as scared as I felt. He looked it too. I turned and saw a boy a few years older than me. Maybe seven or eight. His hair was a mousy brown and his eyes were the coldest of greys I had ever seen. I think I was completely mesmerised by him. He was sitting with his knees tucked into his chest with his head lowered slightly. He was so very pale, but I couldn't help but notice the bruises that littered his fragile body.
"Didn't you hear me?" he said coldly, "Who are you? What do you want?"
"Why are you hurt?" that must have been a very stupid question, I was staring at the bruise on the side of his face. He tried to hide it with his arms, but failed. Outside there was a fuss that wasn't over the woman, but a missing child that had gone wandering; me.
"It's none of your business!" he said in his cold voice. I looked around the room and noted the machines he was attached to. There was a man sleeping in the visitors' chair, sprawled out without a care in the world. The boy didn't seem to pay any attention to the man whatsoever, "Why are you in here?"
"There was this woman out there and she frightened me," it must have sounded pathetic, I saw the sour look on his face. It was a long while before I understood why he looked at me that way, as if he was disgusted. I was too young to get things straight off, yet not young enough to be oblivious to them, "So I ran in here, I'm sorry!" I bowed my head slightly and looked back over to him. He was watching me curiously, like how I used to watch my friends at school, studying the way they moved and talked.
"Why are you in here?" he asked, but his voice was a little bit softer, less mean. I appreciated that for it was a little intimidating before with his cold voice.
"I wanted to see Mum but I got lost," I replied. There was a very awkward moment passed between us as he thought. He looked over to the man in the chair blankly as if he was looking right through him.
"Where is she?"
"The cancer unit," I replied and he looked to me again with a sadness I wasn't yet to understand. He pulled back the sheets and got out of the bed. He was around a head and a half taller than what I was. He was wearing baggy yet comfortable pants and a grey shirt with the logo on the front. He wasn't well balanced and he couldn't walk straight. He limped in the left leg as well and I saw the bruises on his arms and neck.
"I will take you there, I feel like a walk anyway," he held out his hand, "Don't hold too tight," he warned and I nodded. I wasn't sure why he told me that at the time, but I was slowly stringing things together. I had seen enough of hospitals to know that he was a very sick child.
"I'm Aralelle," I said shyly as he took me outside into the main unit. The nurses had scattered about looking for me so they didn't even notice us leave, which I now find pretty strange, but it isn't worrisome.
"Aralelle? That's a bit of an odd name," he said smirking as we walked down the corridors. I shrugged.
"Mum thought it was cute and there was no one who would argue with her. What's your name?" I asked and looked up to him. He stepped so lightly. I made sure I didn't hold his hand tight, but as tight as he held mine.
"Noah," he replied shortly. I nodded and looked down again, but the floor got awfully boring after a few minutes of silence, but the walk came to an end shortly enough and we were standing outside of the cancer unit. I saw my Mum inside panicking, yelling at people to find me. I looked to Noah and saw that he was watching her closely with sadness in his eyes. I didn't understand it, but he was genuinely sad.
"It was nice to meet you," I said and let go of his hand, "Will I see you again?"
He tore his eyes off my mother and looked to me blankly for a moment taking in what I just said.
"Oh, yeah, you will see me around," he then turned away and walked down the corridor. I watched him leave before opening the door to the cancer unit. Mum broke down in tears and picked me up in a tight hug. The meeting with Noah was strange enough, but I met him again on my next visit with Mum so she could thank him. He was polite, yet sad at the same time.
"He is a haemophiliac," Mum said on the way home in the car, "That means he can't properly heal when he is hurt, the blood doesn't clot to stop bleeding. If he is cut he will keep on bleeding and simple touch or bump can bruise badly. I feel so sorry for his parents."
"His Dad doesn't seem to mind. He sleeps in the chair a lot," I said, thinking about the bruises, "Noah doesn't seem to mind either. Can I see him again tomorrow?"
I visited him a lot and eleven years later, while I am sixteen and he is nineteen, we are best friends. Mum loves him and she has been trying to get his doctors to let him out once in a while since he was moved in there permanently for his extreme case. He was my second favourite person with Mum being the first. My grades in school were reasonable, and since I was passing she gave me a day off a week or so to go see him, even though I went every day after school. He never met any of my friends from school, and they never asked about him. A group of girls once followed me a good ten metres back or so. I lost them in the depths of the hospital and took them to the burns unit. They never forgot it either.
On that day there was something I couldn't place when I got out of bed. I looked around the room and everything was the same as I had left it; chaos. I pulled on a shirt and a knee length skirt and found my sandals before leaving the room. I hanged out the washing and folded it when dry, bringing the time to eleven, then I did the dishes till half past. It was quite tedious, but I somehow made it interesting. Somehow.
I owned five cats and three dogs, so I used them as characters in my imagination. I pretended I was a pirate on a great ship and tonight's chore was the dishes of a thousand other pirates! It was rather stressing since they all had really big appetites and even bigger plates with many scraps. I joined my three dogs together as a three headed scrap disposing dog and my cats became a tiger with green and pink stripes just because I felt like it. I spent the whole time crying "Garr, avast me laddies!" and random pirate sounds as I got more and more frustrated with the growing amount of dishes.
It was a good way to waste time. Noah and I used our imaginations a lot more than people our ages did. We acted like children, but we had more mature adventures of lust, tragedy and responsibility, whereas for children it was more about treasure. I have always known that Noah's life has been lacking adventure, and on that day I was hoping to give him one.
I walked into the hospital and said hello to the receptionist, who said that his parents left an hour ago, which was good news to me for I had never met them and I was glad for it because I despised them. When Noah was younger, around the age when I first met him and a little bit later, his mother was abusive, knowing that her son was a haemophiliac, she thought that he would be better off dead. It horrified me. His father was no better; he knew what the mother was doing and did nothing to stop her. They sickened me, both of them. Mum went around a few years back and verbally abused them pretty bad and got herself a restraining order and thrown in behind bars for a couple of weeks. She was our hero.
I walked to Noah's private room. Mum and I did our best to decorate it, since the white was getting a little bit…mind numbing I think is the term Mum used. We had random posters of our favourite bands, such as From Autumn to Ashes and Breaking Benjamin, Mum also brought in many bright coloured cushions to dump in the empty corners of the room.
I found him sitting upright shaking and pale. His hair was a dark red, nearing black since we had dyed it a week before. His eyes were still a sad grey. He wasn't muscular but lanky and weak looking, which was completely understandable since he hadn't really left the hospital for years. I knew instantly what was wrong.
"They say I am bleeding. Remember those pains I told you about last week? Well, they tested on me until they figured it out. I don't know how it happened, but…they think that operating will make it worse, and they don't know how much time they can give me," his voice was shaking. He paused often to try to calm himself down so he wouldn't break into hysteria. I sat down beside him and took his hand. I wanted to hold it tight to stop the shaking, but I knew that would hurt him. I had been expecting this for a while. Noah was a freak of nature to have lived his long with such a severe case and every time I visited him I dreaded hearing the news. I expected to see a nurse packing up his things and folding white sheets upon an empty bed with the imprints of his head sill fresh on the pillow.
Trying to find something to say to him proved to be the most difficult task I would ever face, so we sat in silence. Mum called around lunch time, as she promised. I told her that he didn't have long. She got off work five minutes later.
I looked to Noah and he looked to me. He was terrified of dying, the most inevitable thing there was in the world and everyone was so afraid of it. I then rested my head on his shoulder to hide my tears. I was ashamed of them. He was counting on me to be strong and to be the Aralelle I always was, but I couldn't.
"It's okay to cry," he said simply, yet I knew there was a great depth to his word. He wasn't only telling me, but also himself. He looked straight ahead, still holding my land and letting me rest on his shoulder which would surely leave a bruise, but it didn't matter now, "It's okay to be weak sometimes…"
"Stand up," I got off the bed, still holding his hand. He frowned at me, confused by my order, "I said stand up! Now!" he did as I said that time. He was still a lot taller than me, even though I was stronger. I picked up my mobile and found his backpack that he was never meant to use.
"What are you doing?" he asked darkly as I filled it with everything I could find, such as his clothes, shoes, books, CD's, anything that I could reach went in until the bag was just full enough so zipping it up was a struggle. I put on the heavy backpack and nearly lost my balance. At that moment Mum walked in and saw the scene in front of her.
"This is a rescue mission, isn't it?" she said dreadfully and I nodded. She had tears in her eyes when she looked to Noah and pulled him into a hug. I knew the type of hug too. She was as much as a mother to him as his real one, even more so since she loved him like a mother loved her son. I smiled bitterly at the sight, it was heart breaking.
"So what's the plan?" she asked and looked to me, I shrugged, "Let's just get him out!"
It wasn't as hard as we were expecting it to be. The nurses and doctors saw us, I know that, but they turned a blind eye. If I didn't know better I think that they were counting on us to get him out of there. If only for a day, they wanted to see Noah live as best as his could.
I held his hand all the way out, gently so I didn't hurt him. He piled into the backseat of our blue ford and we left for home. I looked to him and smiled. He was so fascinated with what was happening outside, and smiled as Mum began to rant that she and I were kidnappers. My smile faded as he winced slightly and held his hand to his stomach. I packed his pills and needles in the bag for when things got bad. There were little bottles of valium and morphine for when the pain got unbearable, but the supplies wouldn't last for long.
But it didn't matter. He didn't last over a week and a half.
Mum took all that time off work. She was free of the cancer after a couple years of surgery and chemo. She was an amazing person and I wouldn't have known how to live without her if things went bad. We set Noah up in the room next to mine. I slept in there with him most nights, sometimes Mum did too. He enjoyed the company. Mum even let us play our music as loud as we wanted to, and she wasn't a big fan of metal like we were.
Mum worked a late shift once in that week. From eight at night to four in the morning. It was that night when Noah and I had sex. He was joking around at first saying that he wanted me to go to a red light district and find him a hooker because he didn't want to die a virgin. That is where it started. A few minutes later we kissed. All that time I still thought of him as a friend and nothing more and I was doing him a favour. It wasn't until the following morning when he slept that I saw the bruises the night had left. Mum was in her room sleeping so I had a shower and cried. It was the best place to cry because no one could hear me sobbing over the water.
My best friend was dying and it took me eleven years for me to realise that I loved him. Most of the medication had been used and he was growing weaker by the hour. Dark shadows had appeared under his eyes and he was constantly shaking and couldn't hold a cup for more than a minute without dropping it. If Mum or I rested out hand on his shoulder a faint bruise was left, everything was hurting him, but we did our best to keep him smiling or laughing. The three of us sat outside a lot and talked about the stupid things he and I got up to. It was good to laugh; it helped us forget that he was going to die.
The water soon ran cold; I used the entire tank. I turned off the shower and dried off. My eyes were bloodshot and puffy from crying. I pulled on a summer dress and tied back my brown hair before leaving the bathroom. Mum would sleep well into the afternoon which gave me time to talk to him alone. He was awake when I entered the room. He looked beautiful with his hair scruffed up wildly and a sleepy smile, but behind that beauty was the dark shadows under his eyes and his frail strength. I told him that I loved him, I didn't cry for I had shed as many tears as I could in the shower. He didn't reply but he simply held me for what seemed like hours and kissed my forehead. He didn't have to say anything and he never did.
He died the next morning, just after eleven. His mother and father came over and said goodbye. His mother was a tall woman of remarkable beauty and softness that I didn expect. She apologised and cried onto the side of the bed. His breathing was rapidly decreasing. Mum and I stood by the door, and he wouldn't take his eyes off me, as much as his mother cried. A tear ran down over his cheek and down his ear as he looked to the ceiling.
"It's okay to cry," I said weakly and I saw the faintest of smile greet his blue tinged lips.
His mother didn't blame us, not once. She thanked us for getting him out of there, something she wasn't brave enough to do. She told us that she was scared of being a mother to a child so fragile. She wouldn't have children again since she carried the gene passed on to her sons. She was terrified that it would happen all over again and another one of her children would suffer like Noah did. The father stood frozen with glassy eyes, staring at the dead body of his son. There was still a faint smile on his lips and the tear had dripped into his hair. He seemed so perfect, angelic, frozen in time and in death.
The funeral was nice. The sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. I went home and cried into Mum's arms for the rest of the night and she did the same. On the mantelpiece and in every room there was a photo of the three of us on Halloween, dressed as pirates. It was our favourite photo and every time we saw it, it made us smile. It was the best way to remember him; smiling.
A year later Mum's cancer returned. She lasted two years, and then I was alone. She gave me a present, a locket she told me to never open, for when she died that is where she would go for she would always be near my heart. I wouldn't ever take it off. Even without it I knew she would forever be in my heart, but the locket seemed more real than memory.
Caelum stayed with me for a while, but I didn't want to weigh him down. I called my Dad in Perth and he said he would prepare a room for me. I went to the cemetery and said goodbye to my two favourite people. I sat before the two graves of Mum and Noah. The gravestones were basic, names, dates, they didn't want anything fancy. I left them flowers and kissed the stones. I said that I loved them and that I missed them both so much.
I was gone by the end of the week. The house was packed up and moved into storage waiting for my return. I took only one box with me. Inside were all the photos Mum, Noah and I ever took, and around my neck was the locket Mum gave me before she died. I dream of them still, Mum's laugh and her adventurous nature, and then Noah and the way he held me the day before he died, like he was surrending proudly, defeated.
I moved in with Dad, and a few years later married to a man I met in my work. I have a new family now and I love them so much, but I could never forget what I left behind.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of thirty six. I have been given no more than a year, and at this time of sorrow in the family all I can do is remember Mum and Noah, but I am not sad because I know that when I die I won't be alone. I have given my two girls a life to live and my husband has them as a joy, so I won't be leaving him as lost as I was.
As the days tick by the pain gets worse, I bring out the old box of photos and relive the memories one last time before I go and join my two favourite people. I have passed the locked onto my eldest daughter Sarah. She understands what it means.
The photo sits on the mantelpiece and it will long after I die, but my grave will sit alone in the cemetery, missing the company of those left behind.