Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You Say I'm a TEASE Like It's a Bad Thing

Take two from my WiP, ALWAYS AND FOREVER...

A little backstory: Mia has been diagnosed with cancer and what amounts to a death sentence. I'm writing this story in five parts, each portion being one of the five stages of grief. This scene comes shortly after last week's snip (she's still in denial about the whole thing).

Enjoy!

I padded quickly up the stairs, closing the door to my room firmly behind me. After shedding my coat and changing into my ratty, old flannel pajamas that Kal always called ‘Grandma wear’ I flopped face-first onto my bed. The jersey sheets and comforter, soft against my skin, soaked up the tears I hadn’t realized I’d been shedding. This couldn’t possibly be happening. Not now. Not again.

It was four years ago all over again. The seemingly harmless doctor’s appointment that ended in the biggest catastrophe possible. Mom crying and crying and crying. Dad tight-lipped, striving to maintain some semblance of sanity and failing miserably. Ben, scared and desperate, willing to do anything to make it all better for me—even shaving his head after the chemo had stolen my own lustrous locks—when as the older sister, I should have been the one to fix everything for him.

And, Kal…oh, god, Kal, trying to be so strong, so positive even though he died a little inside with every one of my coughs, my sneezes, every pill I took, everything I threw up after chemo and every fiber of hair that fell out. Kal who told me no one ever looked more beautiful than I did as a baldie. Kal who promised that we’d be the best of friends, always and forever. Forever never felt so short as it did right now.

No, this couldn’t be happening. It just couldn’t. Forget about me. It’d kill them, and I just couldn’t let that happen. I had to be okay. I just had to. They needed me here, just as I need them.

A soft tap on my door scattered my tumultuous thoughts into the winds. Good riddance. I blew out a heavy sigh and sat up, pulling the blankets up around me in the process. “Yeah?”

The door opened, slowly, hesitantly, and then a mop of dark curls peeked in at me. “Can I come in?” He asked in a small, scared voice, his eyes betraying the fact that he knew everything and he—like me—was desperately clinging to the hope that this was all just some crazy mix-up.

“Sure, Benj.” I scooted over to make room for him and patted the mattress. “Come on in.”

He needed not further encouragement. Three giant bounding leaps and he landed right next to me, snuggling deep beneath the covers and pressing his cold feet against mine.

“Jesus, Benji!” I screeched, cringing against his icy skin. “What have you been doing, kid? Hiking barefoot in the snow drifts?”

A peel of laughter rose out of him, bright and blinding, pure life. He grinned at me, his white teeth gleaming in the dark room. I started to reach across him to turn on the bedside lamp but he stopped me.

“You’re sick again.” It wasn’t a question but a statement of fact.

“Do I look sick to you?” I couldn’t lie to him, but I wasn’t about to confirm something I still didn’t believe myself.

He stared at me for an eternity, his big baby blues holding a wealth of understanding that far surpassed his twelve years. Twelve. That’s how old I’d been the first time…how old he’d be when he lost his sister forever. Slowly, he shook his head. “But, you didn’t look sick last time either…not at first anyway.”

I slid my arms around him, and his head dropped gratefully onto my shoulder while his arms hooked around my waist. “It’s going to be alright,” I whispered in his ear. “You’ll see. Everything will be fine.”

He sniffled, nodded. “When…when will we need to go in again? To do the transplant?”

Pain seared through my chest, slicing my heart into tiny ribbons. It was all said so simply, so matter-of-fact, as if it was a forgone conclusion that he’d lay himself out on a cold sterile table and let some stranger saw into him, hacking out his most vital parts and forcing them into me.

And he was perfectly fine with it…with his sister being a parasite.

“We’re…” I bit my lip, fighting the tears that were aching to break free. “We’re not, Benj. I don’t need another bone marrow transplant.”

His body jerked back, bewilderment lining his features. “But…why?” He tugged on me as gently as possible when I still didn’t respond. “Mia, why? We’re a match. The doctors said I could give you anything you needed. Bone marrow. Blood. Organs. Anything. You don’t…” He swallowed, his eyes bright and glassy with his desperation. “You don’t even need to ask, Mia. I’d do anything for you. I’d give you anything you needed.”

I already knew that. He didn’t have to tell me, but that just made it all the more difficult to bear. It couldn’t be true. It just couldn’t. I shook my head and pulled him back to me. This is what I needed most right now, his love for me bleeding out, saturating the air around us, swaddling me in soothing colors and textures.

“I know, Benj. I know you would, and I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done for me…everything you would do,” I murmured in his ear, my tears flowing silently into his hair, drenching his curls. “But, what I need now, you can’t give me.”

“What, Mia?” He sobbed. “What do you need? I can give it to you. I promise.”

“Time,” I answered, my voice broken and faded. “I just need a little more time.”