I first noticed Jack on my first day back at school after I found out I had a brain tumour. That day was one of the worst ever. I just thought I had the flu. I had thrown up violently a lot, and had a really long headache, and then got really disorientated for a while, and it carried on for about a week. It was when I had my first seizure when my mum thought I should go into hospital and called an ambulance. They ran some tests and put me through an MRI which was the scariest thing I had ever done up to that point, then took me into a room and told me that even if they did surgery on me I would only have a year to live. I cried so hard. So did my younger sister, my younger brother, my mother, my father. Then they told me they couldn't do surgery because it was too precariously placed, they could damage my brain trying to remove the tumour. So I had less than a year. Great. Instead they put me on chemotherapy for a week. It was better than normal but I still threw up loads and then all my hair fell out. I didn't notice really, I was still in shock from the knowledge I had only twelve months of life left.
I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I thought of all the things I hadn't done yet, kissed a boy, climbed a mountain. I had just turned fourteen I hadn't even started my GCSEs yet. My entire future taken away from me. And then from somewhere the injustice hit me. Why me? Out of everybody in my school, every single person, and I had to be the one to die. I will never marry, I will never have sex, I will never get a job, drive a car, have children. But what could I do? All I wanted was to be normal. There were times, when I was strong enough, when I would scream and scream. The burning rage of everything I wouldn't be able to do would grow too much. And then I would get out of my hospital bed with all of the wires still attached and try to destroy anything that I could get my hands on. Then they would come in and sedate me so I couldn't destroy all of their stuff, while my parents watched outside with tears streaming down their faces, and my brother and sister hiding behind them watching me scream and fall asleep. It cost me of course, I wasn't strong enough and the next day I would be too exhausted to do anything except lie there.
After a while the psychologist suggested that what I needed was a normal routine. So they sent me back to school. They told me that they would take me out of school on the first week of every month to put me through chemo again, to make sure that my hair would never grow again, and then I could go back again. They gave me meds that would stop me vomiting all day from the after effects of it, though they could do nothing about my tiredness. I would just have to sit it out.
So I went back to school, and immediately became the outcast. They would point at me and whisper.
"Did you know she has cancer?"
"Yeah! I heard she's going to die!"
"Really?!" It was sick. I hated the lot of them for it. I suppose I was just envious of them. They had long full lives ahead of them. I had a future of death. I had my own schedule in my class, lunch and break were roughly the same; they were longer, with the excess spent in an empty classroom resting, as if I didn't do that at break time and lunchtime anyway. After the period after normal lunch and break which were spent resting I would go back to normal lessons and continue class. I had stares whenever I walked through the door. There was one plus side, I didn't have time to think about my slow dying.
On my first break after I returned to school, I was so exhausted I went and sat in the corner of the playground. Everybody gave me a wide birth which was fine with me, except for one boy who left the building and came and sat down about a metre from me. I looked at him. We stared at each other for a while then looked away. But he didn't look directly at me; he looked at everything but my eyes. This perplexed me. I looked back at him again. He was about my age, with brown longish hair and freckles. He had glasses, and a quiet, sort of different air to him.
"What's your name then? Come to gawp at the girl who's going to die?" he just looked at me, but again, no eye contact. Then I realised. He must be from the learning disabilities wing of the school. He must have people gawping at him every day. Come to think of it, I slowly remember that I used to see him here. I never took any notice, and I must have just completely forgotten about him. At the end of break I went to ask my 'rest supervisor' who he was.
"Oh, that's John. He's autistic. He doesn't speak."
"What, at all?"
"Nope, we think he can, but whenever we try to help him he just shies away from us."
"We don't know but we think he's scared."