A Life to Live At Little Harbor

By: J. L. Johnson

I don't believe in beating about the bush, and if I did last year, I don't now. On July 14th 2022 I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. This type of tumor has only been around for the past fifteen years and has claimed 46 people up till now. I'll be the 47th. I'm 17 years old, and I have one year left to live.

My name is Jonathan Rose Park. I'm a girl, don't let the name fool you. You see I have four older sisters… And my parents really wanted a boy, so when the doctor told them they were finally going to have the son they wanted, they went out and bought tons of stuff with the name "Jonathan" on it. Hundreds of dollars worth of personalized toys, clothes, and so on. Only problem was that when I came out I was missing something… But the family, as a group, decided to keep the first name. So people call me Jonny. Oh, and two years after I was born my brother Andy was born.

Toward the end of my Junior year I kept getting horrible headaches so my parents took me to see a doctor, who took me to see another doctor, who took me to see another doctor. He told me I had a brain tumor and that I'd be lucky if I lived to turn 18.

"This particular type of tumor," he explained to us, "was first discovered in a man named David Franklin in 2007. It has symptoms that differ from person, all we know of it is the signature it gives off and the usual outcome. After a David Franklin Tumor is diagnosed the patient rarely lives beyond two years…"

And so, being told I have but one year to live, my family felt it would be best to move the entire family out of the city of Buffalo and into a small town about two hours South West of Albany. I wasn't sure how my parents heard of some place called Little Harbor and decided to move the entire family there.

So here we are, my parents, Andy, Max, and I living at 113 Ridgeway Drive. My other sisters, Ellen, Sarah, and Alex got an apartment here and jobs. The reason Max is staying at the house with us is because we had a room for her. It's just that easy… My parents enrolled Andy and I into Little Harbor High School where I'd be a senior and he'd be a sophomore. And today, was our first day of school.

"Jonny! Get up!" My Mom yelled at me through the door. I opened my eyes slightly and rolled over and covered my head with my covers. Seven in the morning was just too early…

"Get up Jonny! It's your first day of school!"

"Her last first day of school…"

"Shut up Jake you'll depress her!" I heard a middle aged woman and I young man say to me. I rolled over and removed the covers. I stared up at Bonnie Myers and Jake Gordon. Bonnie was a rather over weight Black woman who looked about 50 with graying black hair and "smart clothes." Jake looked about 19 or 20 with wavy dark blonde hair and a blue jeans, gray long sleeved shirt combination. And army boots, he loved his army boots.

"Don't you guys ever rest?" I asked them.

"Only when you do, dear."

"And sometimes not even then," Jake said with his Australian accent and Bonnie slapped him in the arm. Um, I should probably explain these too, and Coach, when we see him. Remember those "symptoms" the doctor was talking about? These guys are them. They're not real, only I can see and hear them. They're not exactly figments of my imagination, it's has to do with something that the tumor is doing to me, no one knows the details about it. I complained to them and rolled out of bed.

"Sometimes you guys can be a pain in the ass," I told them as I walked over to my closet to pick out what to wear.

"Your lucky to being seeing us, dear. I saw a talking chicken!" Bonnie told me as I walked over to the mirror. Another thing about Bonnie, Jake, and Coach is the fact that each of them died from the David Franklin Tumor. They're not ghosts, they probably never even existed, they're just something my mind wanted me to see. I saw Bonnie shooing Jake away in the mirror and Jake frowned and faded out. I rolled my shirt off over my head and put on my shirt. It was a dark blue, v-neck shirt with a black strip across the chest. Bonnie always said it matched my hair and eyes well. I took off my short and put my jeans on.

"First day at a new school, nervous?" Bonnie asked me as I brushed my hair.

"I don't think it's nerves that are bothering me," I told her as I finally found a pair of socks that match.

"Oh, we're back to the thing about making friends…" she said and folded her arms over her chest.

"We're not "back" to anything," I told her.

"Jonny! You up!"

"Yea Mom!" I said as I fell over trying to get my boot on.

"You want a ride kids?" Dad asked me as I walked into the kitchen and as he was standing up. Andy was standing up too. Andy was actually Andrew Park Jr. and it was believable. He and Dad were a lot alike sometimes.

"It's not that far, I'll walk," I told him as Mom handed me a piece of toast.

"Then you better hurry up," Max told me. Max was sitting at the kitchen table with her feet up on the table and her breakfast plate on her stomach. Max was blonde with hazel eyes and a few inches taller then me. Though it's been so long since she got off her butt I can't be too sure of that… I finished my toast, kissed my Mom good bye and headed out the door. I glanced a look at my watch; I had half an hour to get to room 312 for homeroom. I saw Andy get into the car with Dad and I waved to them as they pulled out of the driveway.

"I like this place," a voice said from behind me. I jumped slightly as I turned around and saw Coach standing behind me looking around contently. Coach was possibly mid to late fifties, a very good stature, and a baseball cap and whistle. His actual name is Dwayne Summers, but he used to be a hockey coach and preferred to be addressed simply as Coach.

"Hiya Coach," I said as I continued walking toward school.

"Heya Kid. First day of school huh?" he asked me as he walked at my side.

"Yup…"

"You have a strategy planned?" he asked me. I looked at him and just shook my head.

"Well I'll give you some pointers… Now let me see, been awhile since I was around young people…" he said placing his hand to his chin.

"Coach, I love you to death, no pun intended, but for you it's been awhile for everything…" I told him and quickened my pace a bit. He just looked at me.

"We're back to the making friends thing again…"

"We're not "back" to anything!" I yelled and just began to run to school.

A few moments later I found myself wandering around the third floor of Little Harbor High School. The place looked like it had been around for decades… Though assuming the size of the town I wouldn't be surprised if it had been. It's a horrible feeling; being surrounded by people who have been friends possibly all of their lives. I did get a few odd looks here and there but people seemed content to keep to themselves. I finally found 312 and found my name on a desk in the middle of the second last row, along with a bunch of papers. I sat down and realized one paper was my schedule. First period I was in this class for Global, then I had Spanish, Pre-Calculus, Gym, study hall, lunch, Home and Careers, Study Hall, then English. Only male teacher was for English. Last year I had three male teachers, must be this small town thing. Anyway as I sat there, alone in the room except for the teacher, a boy walked into the room after saying good bye to his friends. He was possibly 5'11", with blue eyes and dark brown hair. He was still laughing about something as he said hello to the teacher and headed over toward the end of the room I was on. He found his name in the last row at the end of the row, which meant he had to pass right by me. He backtracked a little bit until he stood right in front of me.

"You're new…" he told me rather then asked. I nodded. He extended his hand.

"Mark," he introduced himself. I shook his hand lightly.

"Jonny."

"Jonny?"

"Don't ask…" I said and he laughed slightly.

"Freaky parents?" he asked me.

"At times…"

"Well wait until you find out how freaky my parents are, when do you have English?"

"Eighth."

"Really? Crazy, me too… Hey, since you're new, why don't you sit with my friends and I during lunch, oh good you have it third… My friends and I will show you all of the ins and outs of Little Harbor, not that there are a lot of them…" he offered which I accepted, not having the guts to refuse. Well at least it took care of my finding a place to sit at lunch.

During Global Mrs. Livingston just helped us fill out some forms and told us a little about what we'd be doing this year. The Spanish teacher was a little odd… She was up in years, almost to retirement, which looked like how it was for a lot of the teachers, but Senora Johnson danced and sung for us... Yea, odd... Miss. Westing for Pre- Calculus reminded me of those Nazi people we learned about in history class. Ms. Rodan for gym walked liked one of those army generals, she even yelled like one. Then I had study hall with the quietest little teacher, she told us her name but I don't think I caught it. The schedule said her name was Mrs. Frankfoot, but I doubted if that was anyone's name… Then lunch came. Teenage boys and girls piled around me, still laughing and talking and of course yelling with each other. I was seriously beginning to rethink sitting with Mark and his friends, actually I was beginning to rethink coming back to school tomorrow. Or ever for that matter. I was about to turn around and head for home when Mark flagged me down. I walked over to him and he introduced me to his friends.

"This is Anna Montoya," he introduced. Anna was a pretty Hispanic girl with wavy brown hair, nicely shaped eyebrows, and welcoming warm brown eyes. She also had a complexion to die for.

"And this is Benny Blake," Mark introduced me. Benny was too light to be Black, and too dark to be White, so I suppose he was of mixed heritages. He had dred-locks and a little patch of hair under his lip and about his chin. He also had welcoming warm brown eyes.

"Hey," Benny said as I sat down in front of him.

"Hola," Anna told me.

"Oh yea Jonny, Anna is 75% Mexican, her mother comes straight from "the home land," so unless you speak Spanish you won't understand half the stuff she says," Mark told me and Anna slapped him playfully.

"So why is your name Jonny anyway?" Benny asked me.

"Doctor said I was going to be a boy…" I explained and they all laughed slightly.

"Where you from?" Anna asked me.

"Buffalo, born and raised."

"Oh, a city. So why are you here?" Mark asked me.

"Yea, boy if I were in a city with all those guys, mmm mm mmmm…" Anna said waving her head from side to side.

"Well, we wanted to get away from the city."

"So why Little Harbor?"

"Seemed perfect, I guess…"

"Prefect might be a stretch…"

"Our parents seem to think it's perfect…" Anna said and the two guys agreed. I looked at them all confused.

"Oh, you seem my Dad was raised here, but he came back for the holidays one year and met this girl. The two of them hit it off and here now I am…" Benny explained to me.

"My father spent the first few years of his life back home in Mexico, but his parents moved back here. Then about twenty years ago the daughter from the neighboring sugar can plantation and a bunch of other guys from Mexico came up here to stay with my family. Well my Father and the daughter hit it off, you know, eventually, and here I am," Anna explained.

"How sweet, huh?" I heard and looked behind me to see Jake standing in the aisle. I jumped slightly and turned around to look back at the other three how were looking at me kind of funny.

"Bug," I explained to them.

"I'm not a bug!" Jake yelled at me but I just tried to ignore him.

"My parent's story around here is famous, actually," Mark said.

"Oh come on now Jonny! I know what you're doing! That old "Jake I can't talk to you in public" thing! Even though I saw you talking to Coach in public just this morning!" Jake told me.

"So Mark, what about your parents?" I asked Mark.

"Oh look at the way you're drooling over him! Oh my eyes! No friends perhaps but simply a few minutes of his time won't hurt!" Jake yelled and that made me stand up and looked him right in the face. Which of course cut Mark off in mid sentence and all of them looked at me.

"Bathroom?" I asked them.

"Around the corner," Anna told me and I bolted.

I made sure the hallway was empty before I started yelling at Jake. Oh I just made a fool of myself on the first day of school… Oh bad, oh not good.

"Not like I made you talk to me…" Jake said going of the defensive. I groaned in anger and balled my hands.

"Oh I wanna kill you!"

"Too late," he told me with a grin. I relaxed my hands and sighed.

"Yes, yes… Much too late…" I said and leaned up against the wall beside him. His smirked went away.

"You okay?" he asked me. I sighed.

"No, I'm not okay! I have a sigging tumor in my head!" I yelled at him and heard a throat clear and looked over to my side to see a man standing there.

He ended up being a teacher. And not just any teacher, my teacher. So now I sat in his room explaining the actual meaning behind what I said. The teacher, Mr. Walker, was of a good height, about six feet, with brown hair and nice blue eyes. If I were to guess his age I'd probably have to say late thirties, early forties.

"A David Franklin Tumor? That's a new one…" he said sitting on the corner of his desk.

"In a matter of speaking…" I confessed. He sighed again.

"So, uh, are you going to make it till the end of the year?" he asked me and I looked at him a bit surprised. That was a rather direct question.

"Um, there's hope…" I answered.

"And does the school know this?"

"It does now…"

"No it doesn't… I won't tell, not unless you want me to. But, I do want to know… why are you telling me all of this? You didn't have to," he asked me.

"Because you asked…" I responded truthfully and he looked surprised.

"You told me because I asked?"

"Well yea! I tell anyone who asks. It's not like a lot of people come up to me and ask me if I'm dying. And if they do, I tell them…" I explained. He sighed again.

"Well, in that case. If you ever have anything you want to talk about, I'll be here…"

"Are you kidding me? I have two parents, and five brothers and sisters plus three ghosts! I have enough people bugging me to talk to them!" I said with a laugh and he laughed too. The bell rang so I collected myself and headed to Home and Careers.

Mrs. Dent was nice. She nicely introduced the first project to us and explained what she was planning to do for the year. For my second study hall of the day I had Mrs. Cain in room 314. Mrs. Cain was possibly the youngest woman teacher there. I couldn't imagine her being over forty. She was pretty; I suppose, she had nice red hair and wore smart fitting clothes. Bonnie would probably like her. Then eighth period came, and that was English, with my newfound friend. Before I got to the door Anna caught up with me.

"Hey you okay?" she asked me. I've known her for three hours, and she's already she's worried about my well being.

"Yea, yea I'm fine. First day jitters, I guess," I lied and she nodded understandingly.

"Don't worry about it Jonny, it doesn't take long to get used to Little Harbor. Hey, maybe today after school the three of us could give you a tour about town, you know?" she asked me.

"Oh! Not today, tomorrow?" I asked her. She looked at me a little odd but nodded.

"Yea sure, we'll meet in the front of the school after the last bell. Oh and this class, Walker's a good guy, don't give him any trouble," she said making a "knick" noise with her mouth, nudging we with her elbow, and walking away. She had to start off with today, didn't she? After school Mom and Dad were taking me to get aquatinted with the Little Harbor Hospital staff.

I stood in front of room 221 thinking to myself as Mark walked down the hallway and nudged me slightly.

"Are you alright?" he asked me.

"It's my first day…" I said and he raised his hand as if to silence me, even though I wasn't going to say anything.

"Say no more, I understand. Personally, I'm nervous about today too," he confessed. I looked at him a bit puzzled.

"This guy," he said pointing to the door leading into Mr. Walker's room, "this Mr. Walker. He only teaches senior English, right? Entire year too…"

"So? He seems nice to me…" I told him. He nodded.

"He's a great guy, always knows what he's talking about. But, you see, he's also my Dad," Mark told me and my eyes widened. No wonder they looked a little alike! Why didn't I place that! They have the same eyes, they both sigh a lot, and they have the same hair. Geez they ever walk the same way. Though despite how mad at myself I was, I laughed.

"Your Dad? Just make sure he knows I'm your friend, that way I'll pass too," I said and he gave me a look that was midway between a smirk and a frown.

"No you see the thing is he'll give me what I deserve," Mark informed me.

"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"

"A bad thing! Are you kidding me? I mean I know the stuff! I love books! I just can't do the stuff!" he explained as we entered the room.

"I'm the same way, don't worry," I told him as we sat next to each other. Mr. Walker was looking in our direction, but I couldn't tell if he was looking and Mark, or at me. Geez they looked alike.

"I'm glad you're here," Mark said to me and I smiled.

"Me too," I replied.

"Okay class," Mr. Walker started, "today I thought you all would get to know me, and tomorrow, I would get to know all of you. So ask me questions, any question, just for today…"

"Is it true you sigged a student?" someone asked him and he coughed in surprise.

"Uh…" he started but couldn't come up with a response. I have to admit my curiosity was peaked.

"They were married first you pervert!" Mark yelled at them and I looked at him curiously.

"Tell you later," he told me so I nodded and left it at that for now.

"Any other questions?" Mr. Walker asked the class, now a little more cautious then before as to what they might ask.

"How old are you, really?"

"Forty. I turn forty-one in April."

"Are you really Mark's father."

"That's what his mother has told me."

"How many years have you been teaching?"

"Twenty."

"How many years have you been teaching here?"

"Twenty."

"Is it true you're garage is a make-shift library?"

"Tool shed…"

"You have any pets."

"Yes we have a dog named Fabian."

"Why is he named Fabian?"

"Why not?"

"Um…"

"Any other questions?" he asked clapping his hands together.

The rest of the period went on like that. I learned a lot, without really learning a lot. I'd say I learned nothing that would help my later in life, but for me later in life is five months from now. That's almost as much later as my life gets. Anyway I was walking down the hallway to leave when I saw Coach leaning against the wall. I sighed and walked over to him. He just smiled at me and pointed to the sign beside him. It read "Little Harbor High School Hockey Tryouts." I looked at him not amused.

"You should try out for it…" he told me.

"Coach, I know how much of a disappointment it is for you, but I can't play…" I told him.

"You just need more faith in yourself," he told me waving a finger at me.

"I just need skill!" I told him. It always had been a disappointment for Coach, my not being able to play hockey well. I stubble and trip and fall, that's all I do.

"Listen Coach, when they get a team setup I'll tale you to every game…" I told him hoping it would be enough.

"On one condition… What I say this coach does wrong," he said pointing to the poster, "you tell him he's done wrong."

"Fine…" I said happy just to have him not bugging me to try out.

"Now don't you have a meeting to keep?" he asked me. I looked at my watch and started running down the hallway.