Leta Barnswell silently captures a picture of a group of friends who are laughing and having fun together on Gloria High School's field during lunch. She thanks God for her food and nibbles her sandwich hesitantly because her appetite is gone. She ponders her problem, searching herself for the reason as to why she has caused it.
She is ill, and she knows it well. Leta Barnswell is dying, and Brian won't be back before she dies. No one will know now that she has disappeared. No one can see her anymore, and it is all her fault. She doesn't reach out to others the way she should. She has isolated herself, and her spirit is failing, just as her heart. She knows that God doesn't approve of this because He wants her to be happy, but she doesn't know how to fix this problem.
That's why Leta likes photography. With a single snap of the shutter, she can share another's happiness by enjoying the pictures and pretend to be part of that person's world. Leta is still ill, though, and she is still regretting herself. Leta Barnswell lives only through photographs, and soon she will die.
Philip Marshal chuckles at the corny joke. "Wayne, that was so lame!"
"You're still laughing, Philip." Wayne Thompson runs his fingers through his thick brown hair. His brown eyes twinkle as he laughs.
Katy Halbrooks sticks her tongue out at them. "You're unbelievable! Don't make fun of old Mr. Cads just because of his funny voice." She laughs lightly. "Why bother?" she asks herself. "They're in their own little world!"
"You're so mean, Katy." Wayne pushes her onto her side.
She sits back up and pushes her curly golden hair back. Her amber eyes carry playful fury. "I'm mean?" she asks menacingly, shoving him back.
Philip turns around to see if anyone's watching them, and his green eyes spot a frail girl taking a picture of them. She is alone beneath a tree. He nudges Wayne. When his friend doesn't respond, Philip pokes him in the side.
Wayne squeals, "What was that for?"
"I wanted to ask you a question," Philip replies. "Who's that girl over there by herself?"
The other boy shrugs after glancing at her. "I think her name is Leta Barnswell. She's a loner. I've heard rumors about her being destined to die. Why do you ask?"
"I've never noticed her before. Do you think I could talk to her?"
Katy chuckles at his sudden shyness. "No one's stopping you, Philip!"
"All right. I'll catch up with you guys later," he says, confidently striding over to Leta.
Leta is frightened. A boy is approaching her. She recognizes him from class. His name is Philip Marshal. Leta knows that he is quite popular in the school for being intelligent and athletic. She knows this, but she doesn't know why he is walking towards her.
He is here now. She briefly stares at his silky, white-blond hair and his light green eyes. Then she turns away, ashamed. She only has knotted black hair and dull blue eyes.
"Hello," he says politely. "I'm Philip Marshal, a sophomore in Mrs. O'Malley's homeroom class. What about you?"
She opens her mouth slightly, whispering, "My name is Leta Barnswell. I'm also in Mrs. O'Malley's class."
He nods, sitting beside her.
She musters enough courage to look him in the eye. "I like your hair," she declares awkwardly, hoping this could fix her problem.
Philip smiles. "Thank you. Did you know that your eyes sparkle like sapphires?"
Leta blushes, facing her shoes again. "Thank you." She pauses, frightened once again. "But I'm dying."
Philip is astonished. He thought that it was just rumors! "What do you mean?"
"I have congenital heart defects. I can't afford treatment." She glances at her camera, which is sitting in her lap. "That's why I'm dying."
Philip frowns, wishing there was something he could do. "I'm sorry to hear that, Leta. I'll pray for you. Why don't you enjoy your life while you can, though?"
She stares at him square in the eye. "What?"
"My friends and I will be going to the movies tomorrow. Dazed by the Stars is showing at four o'clock. Join us."
"I'll come." The bell rings, and she quickly stuffs her belongings into her bag.
Philip grins widely. "See you there, Leta! God bless!"
Leta is excited. She has twenty dollars and her camera in her backpack and hastily leaves a note for Brian, but she doesn't think that her older cousin will be home for several weeks. Leta leaves the apartment, praying to God that she isn't late. She walks hurriedly, wondering if it will take a long time to arrive at the movie theater.
Suddenly the weak girl feels as if she is suffocating. She cannot breathe. She sprints forward, forcing her way past unfortunate bystanders. Leta reaches the Salverille theater, but by now she is panicking. She cannot find anyone she knows. A platinum blond boy with bright green eyes steps up to her, speaking to her, but she cannot hear. She knows that she should calm down, but Leta Barnswell is fearful. She doesn't know how to escape her fear; she only knows panic. She needs to find someone who can help her, but she won't live. She will only die. Leta Barnswell slips into a troubled, unconscious state.
Philip catches Leta as she stumbles into his arms. He thinks that she is unconscious.
"What do I do?" he frantically howls to his friends.
Wayne is normally talkative and full of information, but now he is speechless. Only Katy seems to know what to do.
She dials 9-1-1. "Operator! We have an emergency at the Salverille movie theater." She pauses to listen to the lady on the other end of the line. "Yes, a girl just fell unconscious."
Philip grabs Katy's cellphone. "Hello? Operator? We have reason to believe that Leta Barnswell is dying! She suffers from congenital heart defects! Please dispatch an ambulance as quickly as possible!" He prays aloud to God. "Oh, Lord, please help Leta! Please, please, please, don't let her die, dear God!" Tears begin to silently stream down his face. Philip can't help it. Leta is dying, and there's nothing he can do. He's only been her friend for about a day, and now she's on the brink of dying!
Paramedics arrive and gently lift her out of his arms. Katy and Wayne gather around Philip, hugging him and promising him that Leta will be fine.
"God, You can't let her die now, can You?" he cries out. "She still has so much to live for! Why does this have to happen? Why?"
Brian Barnswell nearly knocks down the entrance into the emergency room. "Leta! Leta!" the twenty-year-old screams out. "Where are you?"
A tall man attempts to calm him down. "Sir, please wait in the lobby like everyone else."
"I'm looking for Leta Barnswell. Is she here? I was told that she was here!"
"Who are you?"
"I'm her cousin."
The man looks at his clipboard. "Are you Brian Barnswell?"
"Where are her parents?"
"They disappeared when she was an infant."
He gasps, then recomposes himself. "Leta is undergoing surgery currently. She was close to dying just a few hours ago," the man informs Brian. "It appears that you knew that she had serious congenital heart defects, but you did nothing about it. Did you know that this can be deadly if not treated?" The man shoots Brian an accusing look and hands him some paperwork.
"Does it look like I can afford it?" Brian retorts. "I don't need this from you."
The man ushers him out to the lobby, glaring. "Please wait out here, sir."
Brian turns around to find three fifteen- or sixteen-year-olds crying and praying in the corner. He seats himself near them and is surprised to hear them praying for a girl named Leta.
"Do you three know Leta Barnswell?" he asks intrusively.
One of them, a white-haired boy, turns to him, tears flowing. "Yes! Yes! Do you know if she's okay?"
"How do you know her?"
A blonde girl answers, "We're her friends from school. Who are you?"
"I'm her cousin." Brian pauses. "Can any of you afford the surgery? It's too expensive for me."
"Can't you pay that in installments?" questions the brown-haired boy.
"I don't have any money! Can you pay it or not?" Brian continues, annoyed.
The blond boy exclaims in Brian's face, "You don't even care about Leta! You're only worried about the money!"
"That's right!" Brian roars back. "Leta is dying anyway! I can't do anything!"
The boy leans back to catch his breath. "You can care about her. You can believe that she'll live."
He catches Brian by surprise. Brian struggles to form words.
The boy tilts his head back, weeping quietly. "You can believe."
A doctor steps up to Leta's cousin the next morning, wearing a tired expression. Philip watches as the doctor discusses Leta's condition with him.
"Would you like to see her?" the doctor asks the group.
"Yes!" Their voices echo in the hallway.
The doctor leads them to a hospital room. "Please be quiet. She needs to rest."
They all enter the room eagerly yet hesitantly, not knowing what to expect.
Leta is in a hospital bed. Her friends and Brian are gathered around her. God has healed her and is offering life. She wants her camera, but Leta feels that she's living beyond pictures. They no longer have to be her gateway into the world. Leta Barnswell is finally living.
Kind of deep for someone who isn't even able to drive yet, huh? Hey, I know it's a bit different than my other works, but I decided it was time to post a story up on FictionPress. Believe it or not, but I actually am not a huge fan of poetry. Am I weird or what?
Anyway, this is just something I wrote for class. I was only allowed 1600 words, so I had to rush it. I'm planning on posting up a longer version, but don't wait around for it. I might forget about it.
Love you! ~Sapphire Faith