"Contessa? Are you even listening to me?" No. No, she hadn't been. She had been too occupied contemplating ideas for her final words. Contessa wanted something memorable—like the last line in a movie, or a quote in a book that was displayed on posters. She wanted to be remembered after she died. Preferably by those words.
Contessa shook her head. "Sorry," she said, breaths shaking. "I was caught up in my thoughts."
Asher crossed his arms across his chest. "You're not going to die, Contessa. The doctors will heal you. Then you'll be able to come to the next cross-country race, and beat all of the other racers'—"
"Let me enlighten you," Contessa interrupted. "Cystic fibrosis. A hereditary disease which causes my body to produce mucus that obstructs my pancreas and clogs my lungs. And according to the internet, 'treatment can help, but condition can't be cured'." Asher shook his head, but Contessa went on, "I highly doubt that I'll be able to run multiple miles, Ash, when I can hardly breath lying in a bed." Contessa was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at two years old. It had gotten so bad at one point that Contessa had to begin living at the hospital. It was alright. She'd befriended the many nurses and doctors, but no patients dared come near her disease not being contagious. She'd prayed day and night to find another cystic fibrosis patient that she would magically fall in love with like in the book Five Feet Apart, but he never came. Contessa was sixteen now. She had never gotten to experience a high school party—she had never been in a relationship—she never got to be a kid. The only kid-like activity she'd participated in was cross country, but as her cystic fibrosis worsened she had to give that up too. The only thing Contessa was able to do was start a fundraiser for cystic fibrosis research, in hope that a cure would be around for its next victims. Sadly, Contessa would probably be dead by then.
"Don't think like that, "Asher told her. "There's a chance that they'll find a cure."
"A very little chance," Contessa corrected. But that little chance was Contessa's only hope. She'd been very close to giving up on the hope that she'd be magically cured, but some part of her still wanted to believe that her life wasn't over. "But anyway," Contessa said, changing the subject. "Want to help me think of my last words? I was thinking of something like the Wizard of Oz. Life, I have a feeling you're not in me anymore." Asher punched her arm lightly, but Contessa didn't have the energy to punch him back. She'd been very tired lately. Another wonderful symptom of cystic fibrosis.
Contessa's mother barged in, a box of donuts in hand. Her mother had brought her sweets every day hoping it would help Contessa gain weight. It didn't. Contessa did love the treats, though.
"Contessa, sweetie. How are you feeling?" Contessa's mother always tried to be optimistic when visiting her. God has a plan for you. He knows very well how kind-hearted you are, so it cannot be bad! Her mother had always said. Her family was extremely religious. Contessa's faith had wavered, but she liked to believe a powerful someone was looking out for her.
"I'm alright, mom," Contessa answered. "Tired, hungry, and coughy. As usual." Contessa's mother sighed with a sad smile upon her face and opened the box of donuts, placing it on Contessa's lap. Contessa took a donut and laid it on her hand, careful not to get the chocolate icing on the hospital bed's white sheets.
"Have you talked to Amity recently?" Contessa's mother asked. "I'm sure she would brighten your mood." She would. Amity always did. Contessa and Amity had been best friends since they were seven and had been inseparable ever since. Well, that was until Contessa had to live at the hospital. Amity and she had remained friends, but Amity met new people and partied a lot. She did come to visit Contessa sometimes, but not very often. Contessa didn't blame her. Who would want to be around the girl full of mucus?
"Yes," Contessa lied. She didn't want to worry her mother any more than she had to. "Just talked to her this morning." When Contessa's mother looked away, Asher mouthed liar. Contessa and her brother were very close. They had the occasional sibling bickering which Contessa found extremely humorous, but otherwise, they loved each other's company. Asher was older than her by two years, but that didn't stop him from spending time with her. He'd been in her hospital room every day after school, and almost the entire day on weekends depending on the visitor times.
"Next time you talk to her tell her I said 'hi'," Contessa's mother said. If I'm not dead by then. Contessa began coughing, and mucus rose in her throat. She reached for the plastic cup on her nightstand, her mother having to hand it to her, then spit the mucus into it. Contessa looked to Asher, who she silently thanked for not gagging. He'd stopped when he began realizing how serious her disease was becoming.
"How about, I won't be back," Asher offered. "You know, like the Terminator?" Yes, she did know. Contessa had a surplus of spare time, which she filled by watching almost every movie ever created. Contessa's mother looked to Asher, a scowl upon her face. She hated when they spoke of Contessa's death. But Contessa believed they all knew what her fate would be.
"You know what," her mother began. "We should say a prayer."
"Mom. I'm tired and—" Her mother cut her off by grabbing her hand and pulling Asher over to them to form a circle.
"You are the One, and we, Your servants, we pray Oh God above to heal and support Contessa. Destroy any sickness that is, was, and will ever be in her body In Jesus Name. We pray that thereafter, You rejuvenate her mind, body, and soul, that she may be granted the strength to function in all areas of her life," her mother recited. "Contessa shall stand before You Oh Lord, and she will pray and raise her voice in thanks to You. We glorify Your mighty deeds Oh Lord, and In Jesus Name, Amen." She released her children's hands and smiled. If only Contessa could have the hope her mother had.
"Okay, mom," Asher began, standing up. "We should let Contessa get some sleep. The dark circles under her eyes are making her look awful." She hadn't been able to sleep lately. Her family and thoughts of death occupied her mind. The only part of death she looked forward to was the possibility of her getting to see her father again.