A/N # 1: Okay, this short story is basically a result of an English assignment and I just felt like posting it, so enjoy!

Crossing the Line

A lot of things, like dreams and reality, for instance, are separated only by a thin line. What happens when you cross it?

I sleepily raised my head and checked my surroundings. Where the hell was I?

"You're awake," a familiar voice said amusedly.

The spotless white walls came into focus and I became aware of a hospital smell. Of course! How could I've forgotten where I was?

"This is the fifth time you've fallen asleep on my bed in the past week. Are you trying to tell me something?" The same voice again. I didn't have to look up to know that he was smiling.

"Other than the fact that I'm bored?" I finally met his eyes.

"Are you saying that I'm boring you?" he asked, looking slightly hurt.

"I didn't say that and you know it."

"So what did you say, or rather mean?"

"I meant that I get bored when you're asleep…" I trailed off when I saw the mischievous look in his eyes. "You're gonna make something out of that, aren't you?"

"Only if you want me to."

A smile started making its way across my face but disappeared as he had a coughing fit.

"Do you want some water?" I asked quietly.

"Yeah," he gasped.

After a few minutes of silence, he looked up at me. "Allie, I want you to promise me something."

"Sure, anything." A flicker of a smile flitted through his face but he quickly sobered up again.

"No matter what happens, don't forget me."

"I promise," I whispered, hastily wiping a tear from my cheek.

I sat in front of the living room television, my brown eyes staring unseeingly at the screen, my thin fingers working through a knot in my unruly red hair. I was supposed to be watching the president's speech so that I could write an essay about it for my history class. Supposed to being the key words. I was only dimly aware of the drone of the television or of my pet cat jumping onto the sofa, but was rudely pulled back to reality when Midnight knocked the remote control to the floor and the channel changed. Letting out a couple of words that Jason had unconsciously taught me, I reached for the remote and was about to change the channel when the words of the announcer reached me: "…Fact or Fiction, when we return to Beyond Belief…" For the next thirty minutes, I forgot about the president's speech and immersed myself in the show remembering only when my mother came downstairs to call me for dinner.

"Lexi, why aren't you upstairs yet? You said the speech would be over by seven         o'clock and it's seven thirty."

"The speech—shit!"

"What happened?"

"Oh, never mind, I'll be right up."

Shaking off the hurt look in my mother's eyes, I quickly gathered up my notes, my mind spinning. I could get to school early, go up to the library and get the speech off the internet and then do the essay during lunch, or I could not do the essay at all, which was what I had been doing lately. I decided that I would figure it out tomorrow and made my way upstairs.

"Lexi, why aren't you eating?"

I pushed my food around my plate some more and sighed. "I'm not hungry, mom." Apparently, without knowing it, I had broken the final straw; my dad blew up.

"Alexia, dammit, what's wrong with you? Your grades have been steadily dropping for the past year, you don't eat, you hardly sleep, you don't go out with your friends anymore! It's not healthy—you're sixteen and supposed to enjoy life!"

"Tell me, dad, what right do I have to enjoy life when so many people, including kids my age, die because of diseases like cancer?"

"Lexi, sweetie, where is this coming from? You're not sick, are you?" my mother asked, shooting a death glare at my father for his earlier outburst. My mother had always been the mellower parent of the two, but even that didn't help me now. I threw down my napkin and stormed out of the room.

"D'you think she's on drugs?" I heard my father ask my mother as I walked up the stairs to my room and sighed—my parents would never understand.

            Truthfully, the cause of all my problems had a name and it was Jason Shields. Jason was my age and a junior in high school. He had been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, a little less than a year ago and his prognosis was getting worse. Last I'd checked, his x-rays showed that the tumors in various parts of his body were growing at a tremendous rate and he might have had to have something amputated. Instead of sleeping, I went to the hospital to visit him every night. In the last month, I had taken to praying even though I didn't know how—my family was atheist—and it didn't seem to be helping. Jason, with the emerald-green eyes and the warm smile that lit up whatever room he was in, was dying and I couldn't do anything about it.

            So, why didn't my parents know anything about Jason? Because he wasn't real…okay, he might have been real, but as far as I knew, he wasn't. Anything and everything that had to do with Jason happened in my dreams. So why did something that occurred in a dream affect me so much in everyday life? I don't know. Was it because I loved him? Hell, did I even know what love was?

            Instead of watching the president's speech that night, I had watched a show called Beyond Belief. And now, I was faced with a question: did magic really exist? Did miracles really happen if you wished for them hard enough? I didn't know then and I don't know now. What I did know was that I hadn't gotten a decent night's sleep in the past five months and I needed it, badly. With a sigh, I drifted off to a troubled sleep.

I threw on a black t-shirt, a pair of old jeans, and a pair of worn sneakers that I kept in my closet for emergencies. After quietly opening my window, I climbed out and onto a branch of an old oak tree. The night air was cold and it would've been wise of me to return for a jacket, but I didn't want to waste the time. I gingerly moved towards the trunk and as soon as the branch got thick enough to comfortably hold my weight, I used it to swing to the ground.

It took me fifteen minutes to get to the hospital on my bike, which I then proceeded to stash in a begonia bush. A five minute walk across the parking lot and an elevator ride later, I quietly opened the door to Jason's room. The room looked just like it always did—sad, gloomy and immaculate. There was just one thing missing: Jason. The perfectly made bed quickly erased any illusions I may have had of him being able to come back.

The next morning, I was in a stunned stupor. After stumbling through my daily morning activities, I made my way to school, where I proceeded to sleep through two of my morning classes and make a complete fool of myself in the next three. On my way to lunch, I was so absorbed in my thoughts that I unceremoniously ran into somebody and knocked both of us to the floor.


"I'm so sorry! I wasn't watching where I was going."

The person I bumped into cracked a smile and pulled me up. "Neither was I. I'm new here and I can't seem to find the cafeteria."

I stared at him; that smile…it was impossible and yet…it was his smile and those were his eyes. "C-can I see your program card?" I asked.

He didn't seem to find the request even remotely odd. "Sure."

He handed it to me and my eyes immediately darted to the name at the top: Shields, Jason. I also couldn't help but notice that we had more than half of our classes together.

"Do I know you?" he asked me curiously.

Impulsively, I stood up on my tippy-toes (geez, he was tall) and kissed him. We were ever so rudely interrupted by a teacher stepping out of his classroom to tell us to please hold it off 'till the three day weekend that was coming up.

"Does that answer your question?" I asked, once the teacher had gone back inside.

His reply was quite unexpected. "Are you free tonight?"

"Yeah, I think so." It was a Friday—of course I was free, weren't you listening to my parents last night?

"You wanna catch a movie or something?"

"No," I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm, "I just felt like sticking my tongue somewhere and your mouth seemed like an appropriate place." He snorted.

"I'll take that as a yes."

"What a way with words you have," he told me as we made our way to the lunchroom.

"You should know," I replied, "you taught me."

            It was as if a great weight had been lifted off my chest. I felt more awake and happier than I had been in months. I also suspected that tonight, I would have no trouble getting to sleep. That still left the question I had asked myself earlier: Did I love him? It was time to find out.

A/N # 2: I would really like to know what you guys think of this story and how well I've developed the characters, so please lemme know by reviewing (e-mail and instant messaging is good too).