Maggie heard fireworks near her house. She looked at her calendar. It was July 1st, Canada Day. Glancing out her window, glimmers of reds, green and blues were shooting up and down in various patterns. They were followed by cheers and laughter. If it wasn't for the few sentences that changed her life forever, she would be out there, laughing, cheering, drinking beer and enjoying life. She would never forget that day.

***

It was a typical early May day with the sun gently shining, reflecting the red hues of Maggie's auburn hair. She had to drag her feet from her silver car to her doctor's office. She hasn't been feeling well lately; she was nauseous and tired all the time. She was scared to death, at first, because she thought she was pregnant. A home pregnancy testing stick proved her worries to be false. In the days that followed, she grew more tired and her conditions worsened.

Pushing open the glass door, she found her way to the elevator. The elevator was very stuffy. A wet cardboard-like stench came from the carpet. The light of level four dimmed; she was there. She remembered entering the doctor's office. She remembered that the doctor told her to sit down. Dr. Amoera, her family doctor, wore a serious face. Her always-present wrinkles deepened and her lips curved downwards. Maggie remembered her voice, dry and raspy, as she said, "I'm really sorry. I wish I had better news for you. But, you have a tumour in your brain."

The moments after went in a blur. She forgot what the doctor said afterwards. She forgot how she got to her car, let alone drive home. Tears filled her eyes, but they somehow never overflew. She wanted to talk to someone, but she could not. She lived alone. And Maggie could not worry her parents further. They were devastated after her brother died in a drunk and driving accident. Their mental and physical health collapsed rapidly upon hearing the news. Their only comfort was that they still had her. Her friends were...

Her thoughts were disturbed by the doorbell. Leisurely, she stood up from her couch; she was in no rush. It was probably a paper boy or preachers that go around selling bibles. Glancing out her window, she saw a tall figure dressed in red. Maggie opened the door reluctantly.

It was a man in his mid-twenties. He grinned, "How's life?"

He shut the door behind him and invited himself into Maggie's house. He was dropping all his bags on the carpet when Maggie asked, "Why are you here?"

The man took an apple from the coffee table. Between bites, he said, "I want to stay here for a while; my apartment's getting too expensive. Don't worry, I'll move out when I get a new job."

"It's really not a good time, Austin. I have too much things to figure out right now."

Austin placed his legs on the glass surface and grabbed the cushions to use as a pillow, he grinned, "It's okay, and it would only be a while. Nighty-night..."

Maggie growled, "Austin! Get your leg of my table." She tried to push his legs off, but it was too heavy. She gave up, "Fine, stay here for one night. You better be gone first thing tomorrow morning."

***

She lied on her bed, still awake. She reached for the clock on her bed stand, knocking over some vitamin bottles. She squinted to see the time. It was ten minutes past midnight. Another sleepless night, she thought. Somehow, her mind drifted to Austin. He was his brother's best friend since they were in first grade. He was so cute as a kid with his wavy blonde hair and his deep chocolate-brown eyes. When they grew older, Maggie had always hoped to see Austin after school in her driveway playing basketball with her brother. One memory of him felt just like yesterday.

***

It was first day of grade nine and Maggie's first day at a high school. At locker break, she was thinking about her new friend Giselle when she bumped into a tall boy. Carrying an air of arrogance, he was obviously a twelfth grader. He was few heads taller than her and twice her size. His biceps were the size of her thighs. He breathed loudly, like a bear. He smelt of sweat and cheap cologne. His eyebrows tightened and his lips too. She apologized quickly and tried to get to class. But, the boy blocked her ways, he said, "So, you think you can bump into me and leave? Do you know who I am?"

She stood timidly. Everyone passed by them rapidly, as if they were scared of being his next victim. He was laughing.

"Come on, give me a kiss and I will let you go," He lowered his head and pursed his lips.

Maggie did not know what she would do. Just then, someone shoved the twelfth-grader into a line of lockers. He scowled, "Leave her alone." And he did.

"If that low-life bothers you again tell me," He grinned as he picked up the binders she dropped.

"Thanks, Austin."

***

A sweet memory is the best sleeping pill. As she recalled his grin- his wide lips, perfectly-straight teeth and the sparkles of his eyes, she fell asleep.