Chapter One – Cottonwood Groves
As the sun set on Cottonwood groves, a certain young Raven was just arriving home from a long, exasperating day of school. The tiny, silver key slid into the lock, and the door opened with a successful click. A sigh of relief flooded the garage; the key to the door rarely worked.
Raven was only a tiny thing, her face pale, her eyes hollow and dark, with the hair that once rested upon her tiny head starting to grow back in thin, beautiful wisps. Despite her being only a child, she had matured far too quickly. She walked slowly, wheezing from her lungs that didn't do a very good job breathing. She had them drained a month ago, but she could almost feel the fluid building up again. The days kept ticking by, and she hoped that it would pass soon. One day at a time.
Upon entering the house, the first impression left on someone would be that it was relatively dark and cool, with a dank odor lingering throughout the vast halls. Raven and her single mother could barely scrape up enough money for the treatments, so they had to sacrifice most of their light. In fact, parts of the ceiling where one would usually see light bulbs had been opened up so windows could be installed.
Raven dragged her schoolbags to the kitchen, where they landed upon a dining chair with a thud. She slid onto the table, swinging her legs around impatiently. No doubt her mother was at work. Her mother was always at work. "It's just adult stuff, Raven. You wouldn't understand," her mother usually told her when asked about work, "Don't worry yourself about it." But she wanted to help; she wanted to worry about it. Nevertheless, she was stuck with her nanny.
"Adelee, I'm home from classes!" the high-pitched call rang throughout the premises. Upon hearing Raven's calls, a nanny (hired by Raven's father who, might I add, was practically swimming in wealth) raced down the steps to greet her.
Nanny Adelee was a tall, beautiful woman. Her shining hair was like the outside shell of an almond. Light amber eyes rested upon her sharp features and her dark, coffee-brown skin. Although she would never hurt a fly, her voice was strict and her eyes were cold. It was hard to have much fun with a nanny following you around most everywhere, but Raven was happy enough to have the company.
"And how are you doing today, Raven?" Adelee wrapped her arms gently around Raven's tiny, fragile frame.
"The best I can." Childish giggling erupted around the kitchen, filling the darkened house with a brightened joy. Every day, Nanny Adelee asked the very same question, and it was always met with the very same answer.
"What's for lunch, Nanny Adelee? I'm awful hungry." Raven imagined pizza, hot dogs; even a salad would be nice. She didn't really have to ask. She knew exactly what was for lunch. A soft, pitiful smile spread across Adelee's face, and her tone was sympathetic.
"I'm sorry, darling, but you can't have any solid food until they're completely positive that you won't cough it up. We could give you something to chew on, but you couldn't really eat it."
Raven's heart dropped, but she held the tears back, and forced a smile to cover her face. It was hard to eat when you couldn't swallow at all. As soon as something went down her throat, it was as if something was rejecting it and it came back up again. It was hard for her to go on every day when you knew your own body was fighting against you. The doctors always talk about the chemo destroying the "bad" cells, but also knocking down the "good" cells. Raven knew that there was no bad or good cell. It's only life; it's only trying to keep itself alive. Those "bad" cells don't know how much pain and terror they cause people. Raven forgave them. Raven couldn't hate the disease, no matter how much it hated her. Hey eyes locked with Adelee's.
"No, that's alright, Nanny Adelee. I'll eat later, with the tube…" Raven said. And with that, she walked calmly up to her room, sat on her bed, and when she was sure that she was alone, she cried.