author's note

Im so sorry that Ive been recasting all of the characters so many times. Im really fussy about it, and I wanted them all to look good together. I really hope they do now, because I think Ive settled on a permanent cast. sorry, again. and thank you all for reading.
- Andrew (author)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Forsaking All I've Fallen For, I Rise To Meet The End

In chapter 37 of For Whom The Bell Tolls it's written "there isn't any need to deny everything there's been just because you are going to lose it."
As I feel myself losing everything, I force myself to wonder...
Was it worth it?
When I was 16, I had rigged a rope in my family's barn to be able to hang myself. It was so perfect. So beautiful. The noose swinging back and forth lulling me closer. I had put my head through and found myself looking down at the dirty barn floor. All I had to do was make one step and it would all be over. But it was then I found myself thinking the same thing.
Was it worth it?
I couldn't see or hear anything. Everything was completely black but I could still hear my heartbeat which sounded almost deafening even though I knew it was slowing down and whatever breaths I could take were getting shallower.
But then I had gone completely numb.
I wasn't sure if it had stopped beating, but I found myself unable to hear my heartbeat even when I desperately searched for it in the darkness of everything else.
After what felt like a long time but I wasn't really sure since I couldn't feel time passing, I dreamed.
I wasn't sure if it were a dream or a memory, actually. But since I couldn't remember it, I thought it was a dream.
There was no color. Everything was black and white. It was in a quiet cemetery and there was a faint chime of bells but afterwards, nothing. But then there was audible footsteps. The footsteps belonged to a little girl with long dark hair. She was wearing a long white dress, like something from a wedding, but it looked worn and rugged. But beautiful. It was almost the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. She was carrying a large bundle of flowers. The flowers were roses and even without color I could tell that they were a mix of black and a deep red.
After a few moments of hesitation, the little girl started singing. She was clearly too young to be singing the song and yet she sang it so beautifully... Her voice was piercing in the best way. Like a ray of light, she seemed to infect the things around her with color. And yet her face was pale with sadness that she seemed almost unaware of.
Lost in the darkness, silence surrounds you.
Once there was morning, now endless night.

The song was so tragic and yet the way she sang it was so breathtaking, I wouldn't even dare to breathe. Instead I just watched her.
If I could reach you
I'd guide you and teach you...
to walk from the darkness back into the light.
Deep in your silence, please try to hear me;
I'll keep you near me till night passes by.
She had reached a headstone with a tiny detailed angel carved onto it's surface. The girl sat by the headstone, laying the flowers down propped up against it. She layed her head on the stone and finished the song that took my breath away.
I will find the answer,
I'll never desert you.
I promise you this, till the day that I die...
The pain of the girl felt so real it wrenched my heart to see her and hear the song. I didn't know the song but know I knew I would never forget it. I needed to know who she was. I needed to know everything about her. I felt myself longing to hear her again. Longing for her.
But the picture of the girl with her head on the stone and the roses slowly slipped away and like my heartbeat, I couldn't find it no matter how desperately I tried.
"Not so fast."
A voice came out of utter darkness. A new picture was coming into focus.
My name. Someone was calling for me. I could hear them.
I sat up. But when I did, some indescribable rush came to me. It was almost euphoric.
There was a girl standing in front of me, leaning her hands on the bed. She had dark hair and looked almost completely ordinary. I hadn't ever seen her before. She was a complete stranger to me. She smiled.
"Look behind you."
Instantaneously, I did so. And there I was. I was out of body. A ghost of myself.
"You're not dead. Don't waste your breath."
Her remarks were hard but her voice soft.
"Pardon, you're not dead YET. But we only have so much time before it's too late. Come on."
The clock was ticking now.
"Who are you?"
The sound of my voice surprised me provided I thought I was dead moments ago.
"Arabelle. You're walker."
"My what?"
"I'll take you when you're ready. Now come on. I need to show you something."
She held out her hand. For some reason I trusted her. Funny considering how everyone else had to earn my trust. I took her hand and stood up, completely detaching myself from my body.
Perhaps what I couldn't get used to was that I couldn't feel my own heartbeat or a rush of blood when I stood or moved. I no longer ached or felt weak. It was like I was free of all my pain and suffering.
I wasn't sure what any of it meant yet. The dream, Arabelle, or my doubtless trust of her. But I wanted to trust her. If she could make all my pain just vanish, I wanted her to stay with me.
She started to walk away, taking me with her.
"Don't be scared. I won't let you get hurt. Believe me."
And for reasons beyond my grasp, I did.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I Never Listened To A Word You Never Said

As much as love is supposed to be limitless and how much the heart is supposed to be bottomless, sometimes I wondered whether the more people you let in, the more people you push out -- with or without knowing it.

It had been almost a week since Haydan came to visit me and I found out about her cancer and Brooklyn's AIDS.
Although she insisted she was doing well, I doubted she would be in here if she was doing well. People who were "doing well" didn't come here and sure as hell didn't stay here.
Tonight was another meeting for my age bracket. It would give me a chance to see Hayden and Brooklyn but a big part of me didn't want to see them. Knowing why people are here is somehow worse then them just being there. Now when I saw them all I could think about was the diseases eating them up upside.
Over the last week, things had started to look bad. My leukemia was kicking up. I had lost even more weight and now the ring that Madison's ring would fall of my finger if I wasn't careful.
It hurt to walk.
It hurt to breathe.
Any wrong movement or sharp breath shot thousands of little daggers of pain right through me.
Madison hated being here. I could tell. She started taking more walks and sometimes just looking out the window for hours. I let her sleep next to me and never told her how much it hurt, but she still seemed unhappy. But who could blame her? If I could be anywhere but here, don't you think I would?
Small footsteps and the little sound of Madison's ballet flats came down the hall.
She came in the room, looking sad.
"Madison, what's wrong?"
She hesitated. But ultimately I realized it wasn't hesitation, she just wasn't answering the question. She looked down and watched her feet as she walked over at sat on the couch.
"What is it? What's wrong?"
She looked up at me, looking irritated by my prodding.
"I want to go home, Jas."
I snarled. Home. How childish. What a thing to say. Home had burned to the ground along with our mother and father and everything in that house. She wanted to go home. Home, she said to her brother who was terminally ill and would never make it out of this clinic. And she had just told him she wanted to go HOME.
"I'm the only family you have left. You have to stay here. I'm s-"
She interrupted me. Something she knew I hated.
"I'm 16. I can live on my own now. Our parents are dead and your leukemic."
Dead. I'd grown the hate the word more and more.
Even though it hurt right to the bone, I stood up to face Madison.
"Yeah, one call and they'd take you away. One call and you'd be living on your own leaving your car crash past behind. One call and you have the freedom to be anything and anywhere." As the words formed and the truth became clearer the both of us, the pain inside grew and grew and nearly swallowed me before I could continue. "Have you forgotten what I did so you could stay? Did it just slip your mind that I nearly cut my throat open to spend the time I had left here with YOU? Does it even matter to you? Do you even CARE anymore?"
She looked frustrated. I could tell she was at the end of her rope, but so was I.
"Stop being so selfish! You can't use your leukemia to make everyone feel sorry for you! I'm a person too!"
Every word stabbed. I didn't know what to say. My eyes filled up with tears. I wasn't strong enough to take what she was saying. Did she care? Did her hate of the clinic make her stop loving me. I wanted to beg her to stay but the words just wouldn't come out.
"Madison, I'm dying! Is it a crime that you're the one I want next to me? Or could I wait on my deathbed for you and you would never come?"
She shook her head. I don't think she could even find the words for how angry she was becoming. I had never seen her this way.
"I hate this place! I hate you for making me stay here! I hate you, Jasper!"
I couldn't even think. It felt like the walls were closing in.
Her words echoed in my head.
I hate you.
I couldn't even breath.
I found myself gasping for air but my lungs remained empty.
I couldn't breathe.
All I could do was gasp for air. But all my trying resulted in vain attempts. I grabbed at my chest, coughing a sputtering for air. I put my hand over my mouth and continued coughing but when I drew my hand away, the glossy, red, dripping result scared both me and Madison.
I couldn't even stand anymore. I fell to my knees and continued to cough blood into my hands. Madison knelt next to me and put her hand on my shoulder. I looked at her. I knew I didn't have much time before everything went black.
"You don't have to love me, Madison" I whispered to her through coughs and sputtering. "But I'll always love you."
Madison looked at me tear streaked face with a heavy heart and flooding eyes.
Then I remembered what Haven had told me about death.
It wasn't so bad. It's just a little pinch and then everything... BLACK.
I lurched forward unable to stop cough.
Madison's voice was fading.
And then everything went black.

Monday, March 16, 2009

They Say That If You're Not Lonely Alone, Boy There's Something Wrong With You

They say the Devil's water is ain't so sweet, you don't have to drink right now but you can dip your feet in every once in a little while.

Although my emotions were largely shut off and I almost never spoke, I continued going to the group that Madison had forced me to go to. I didn't think it helped in any way but there was a silent code that once they accepted you into their world, it would be betraying them to leave. Hayden and the others had that silent code.
Hayden. She was the only one I could commit to memory. He smile, her voice, her habits, the way she walked. She was so different from anyone I'd ever known. It felt almost sweet to let her inside my memory.
Something that bothered me was that I didn't know why any of them were here. They must have all been sick but Hayden seemed to be fighting back so much better than Maddox.
Maddox was difficult to forget. His voice was hard and his expression was cold and unforgiving. Whatever his disease was, somewhere in his mind he must have already decided that he wasn't going to make it.
But Maddox wasn't the only one I tried not to remember.
The way in which she did things, the way she spoke, and the way she looked wasn't what made me want to shut her out of my memories. The last group meeting I had gone to was what made me afraid to remember her. She and I came down to the room where the meetings were held and she held the door. A simple gesture but unforgettable was what I saw. On the inside of her arm, she had a few light scars. And in the crook of her arm was a fine little hole. But positioned just right that I knew what it meant. She had been on drugs.
I tried to tell myself that it was just a treatment at the clinic, but it still bothered me. I hadn't cared about anyone but Madison for so long, I didn't want to let myself worry about Brooklyn.
Saving me from the memory, I suddenly became aware of the cold feeling of eyes looking at me even though I was asleep. I quickly opened my eyes.
Hayden was sitting next to my bed just watching me sleep. They left the doors open during visiting hours meaning I must have slept longer than I thought.
"Morning, bright eyes!"
"What are you doing here?" She seemed slightly offended by my question. But she smiled anyway.
"Just being friendly."
I looked around the room for Madison but found that she wasn't there, probably on one of her walks.
"I hate being alone, I can't imagine anyone enjoying that feeling of loneliness and slow steady death." My eyes widened and I looked down. Slow steady death. If you sat still long enough, you really could feel it.
"Sorry." she said, clearly sensing my pain. "I have some friends in the clinic so it's hard for me to imagine being not having somebody you know here with you."
I sighed.
"My sister Madison is here with me." Her eyes widen and she looked surprised.
"Oh my gosh, I'm sorry!" I shook my head, knowing her initial thought was wrong.
"She's not sick. I'm the only family she has." She looked sympathetic although I was sure she wasn't and would never be in my situation.
"I have Brooklyn."
The name shook me. Brooklyn?
"We've been friends since before... I knew I was sick. She got here before me but now we're here together. Even though I wish we out there together, being together makes it a lot easier."
Brooklyn and Hayden. I never would have thought. I spoke without thinking.
"Did she do drugs?" Once the question had already escaped my lips, I realized just how rude of a thing that was to say.
Hayden looked down and swallow hard. This reaction made me almost sure that she had but I still waited for words.
"Heroin." She looked up and continued. "There's a reason we all got sick enough to be sent here. Heroin is hers."
So it really was true. Brooklyn was a beat darker then even me.
"How did that bring her here?"
"She has AIDS, Jasper." she stood up. "If you want to know anything else, I'd really prefer you talk to her."
I stuttered. I wanted to say anything to make her stay.
"Why are you here, Hayden?"
She hesitated. As if she didn't know.
"Breast cancer. But the doctors say I'm on the brink of recovery." She paused and nodded toward me. "You?"
Lucky her. She was almost better. I still was waiting for matching marrow. And I wasn't sure it was coming any time soon.
"Acute leukemia."
She rested her hand on my own hand. She looked sad and suddenly drained of color.
"You're not doing well, are you?"
Was I?
She looked back at me, away from my frail hand.
"Just take care of yourself. I think part of getting better is will power. You have to want to get better first"
She was right, but I still doubted what I even had to come back to. The only thing I needed was Madison, and she was here with me.
She smiled.
"Don't give up so soon, bright eyes."
And then she left, she was gone. Not forever, but for now. Leaving me in silence.
That last feeling I had was her hand slipping out of mine.