"It's not fair!" Shouted the boy in the hospital bed. His eyes red with futile, misplaced anger.
"I know it's not." Replied the adolescent in the non-descript chair beside the bed, checking her nails. There were so many better places she could be. When she'd been slammed with community service and a good behaviour bond this was not what she'd envisioned. Trapped in the public hospital with some dying kid crying how the world's not fair. She looked over at the small face perched atop the mess of sheets. His shouts of defiance had dissolved into soft, defeated sobs.
"I don't want to die." Christ. How the hell was she supposed to deal with this crap? This had to be the worst she'd seen him. He'd been getting worse over the two weeks she'd been saddled with him. Honestly, why couldn't she be picking up trash with her girlfriends? Supposedly this was some grand new trial. She didn't see the point.
It probably had something to do with the parents. They hadn't made it in from the country so far this week. Something about flooding. The nurses had explained it rather briefly as she was escorted to his room. Clearly they weren't too keen on having her 'type' unsupervised in their hospital. Not wanting to inciate awkward conversation, she glanced around the room. Trying to look at anything but the boy. It was almost identical to all the other rooms on the children's ward: Bright colours and friendly animals. It seemed rather macabre to her hungry beasts staring down at a sick child.
He'd gotten it into his head that his parent's absence meant they didn't care and he was dead already. The sobbing was starting to grate. If she didn't say something he would do it for her next three hours stuck in this room listening to it.
"I'm not surprised, really." She responded looking finally to the boy. "You're ten." He stopped crying and just looked at her. Like she was the first one to say it to his face. "It sucks. And nobody knows how it feels. I'm fifteen, if I found out I wasn't gonna get any older I'd flip my shit too." She flicked a bang over her ear. She'd been meaning to get her hair cut for a while now. "In fact get angry, scream more, tell everyone you hate them. You've got the right. Just stop sobbing." The moment the words had come out, she'd regretted saying them. She felt like such a heartless bitch.
The boy scowled darkly at her. "You're mean." He said, harsh coming from a ten year old.
"Yeah," she replied, feeling tired. "I'm also rude, I rob, and, I talk back. How I got here in the first place actually." She noticed a couple of split ends and decided she'd stop by the dresser's on the way home.
There was a long silence between the minors, the minutes devided by a nurse and fifteen minute observations. She didn't understand why the nurses had to check him. Everyone knew he was going to die, most likely soon. It was like the whole hospital besides her and the boy were in denial. Even his parents, when they did come, pretended like he was going back to school.
"Why do you get to live?" The light in the room had changed, the sun was starting to set, casting long shadows across the bed. His voice muffled by the pillow he was facing. The chave looked him over. His back was to her to her. It was obvious he'd been crying again, she could tell by his heaving shoulders. At least he was doing it quietly.
She sighed and put down the cozmo she'd apprehended on the way in. She did not, however, spit the gum. "Ain't no choice but to, is there."
There was no response from the child, and the young woman felt terrible. She shook her head in self-disgust. "I'm sorry." She said, shifting uncomfortably in the chair. "This just ain't my scene, you know?" still no response. "Christ, I don't know why they put me here." When she saw his shoulders start to shudder again she felt even worse.
"Way I see it," she said, sighing, "it's like space." The kid liked space. Books on black holes and ships littered what the little space available in the room. There was even some space-movie tacked to the wall opposite the bed. "You got them big red stars, that like, go on forever…." She had no idea where she was going with this. Probably making things worse. At least she wouldn't have to come back. Wouldn't be aloud.
"Red dewarfs?" The boy offered, rolling over to look at her. His hollow face blotchy and swollen.
"Yeah, right, whatever." Like she'd know that? "And you got them exploding ones."
"Supernova." Informed the kid. "You need to go to school more."
She rolled her eyes. "Well people are like that." She concluded.
"Stars." He didn't sound impressed.
She shoved her hands into her hoodie and looked down at the ground. There. She'd tried. She sucked at this shit. What the hell was child services doing sending her here in the first place? "Yeah." She replied, maybe a little too harshly. "Look, you wanna hear a story or not."
He nodded his head, maintaining eye contact with her for the first time since she'd first started up this gig.
"Well," she begun, "there's two types of people. You've got the red dwarfs, they grow up, they grow old, and then eventually they fade away." The child rolled his eyes, bored of the metaphor already, but not interrupting. "But the other ones….the other people….they have too much."
"Too much what?"
"Too much life, I guess." She responded, chewing loudly. "They can't keep it in or to themselves. They explode. You can see it millions of miles away , hundreds of years later."
The boy sniffed. "I wanna be a red dwarf." He said simply, dark circled eyes boring into hers.
"Really?" she lost contact, retreating back to her nails. "They don't do anything. Just slowly fade away, fall apart. No one even notices that they're there or when they're gone. In the end, I think no one cares." She glanced at the boy, he was looking at her intently. She tried to smile, why was this getting so hard now? "But supernovas? They're cool. They're so full of energy, so brillian they can't just fade. With no other option they erupt. So bright that in broad daylight you can see it. No one forgets a supernova. They're historic, like, awesome." She lent back in the chair. She was starting to believe herself. "You know, I think I'd rather be a supernova sometimes." She glanced over at the boy, hanging off every word. She grinned at him. He smiled ever so slightly back at her.
"Really?" he asked. Although he didn't believe it. He liked the rebel , and her attitude. He wished he could have it. He even liked it when she did those yucky cozmo quizzes with him.
"Sometimes." She responded. "Bright souls burn the fastest." She'd read that somewhere. "But they change the world."
That seemed to offend him, his brows meeting in a scowel. "That's stupid." He growled. "I'm ten." He said, looking at her from under the hoods of his eyes. "I can't make a difference. I'm in hospital dying."
The girl's expression didn't change, and for the first time she held his gaze. "You made a difference for me."