The One, Where the Girl Dies
“I’m sorry, but there’s nothing more we can do.”
I sit up in the bed, it’s uncomfortable and my chest hurts. Again I think about Mommy, she would be better at healing me. All these strange men in white don’t actually know that much and Daddy is just too scared to do anything.
Lately, all I can do is listen in on how the smart people tell my Dad how badly I’m doing. Though every now and then I manage to get up and walk around the hospital, it doesn’t take long for the women in pink to find out and rush me back into my room. If I’m doing so bad, why does it matter anyway? If I’m going to die, then let me.
I hear Daddy sob at the door yet I can’t see. He must be standing just near the entrance, waiting until he can tell his tears to go away so that I won’t see them. I’m sad when my Daddy’s sad. I cry.
“Sammy, what happened? Are you in pain?” Daddy runs up to me, down on his knees he looks at me with teary eyes. They are pink around the iris. I blink away the tears, my hands are too heavy to raise them up to my face.
“I don’t want you to be sad,” while I'm talking I feel my lungs hurt again. I breathe in and cough a couple times. It hurts. “I want to play with you. Do you think you won't be so sad if we play?”
“I don’t think that would be good for you, honey,” Daddy tries to smile, but his tears do the dropping again.
“Please, I want to play with you, we haven’t been together for so long. You’re always with the stupid doctors,” I cough and hate myself for it. Why do I need to cough? Stupid body. I would make it pay but my hands are too weak to slap my cheeks. Why couldn’t I get a normal body like everyone else? “Would it be okay if we played a board game? I won’t have to move this way.”
“Alright,” Daddy tells me that he’ll return shortly with the game. I lie back down, tired from the crying, and fall asleep.
I run around the big field. It’s so green and my legs feel strong. I can breathe freely, no coughing, no pain. Did I die? Is this what adults call heaven? I never believed in it, now I hope it’s true...
I open my eyes and know that it was nothing more but a dream. Daddy is sleeping beside me on a tiny chair with a box in his hands. The chair is too small for him. I feel like crying but don’t want to wake Daddy, he looks so tired.
I look at the window, it’s high and far away, so I can’t see outside. Small drops of water start to clatter against the glass. I like rain, it feels pure to me. If I could stand naked in the rain, I know it would heal me. Or should it be a whole river to make it work? I don't know how to swim though, never had the chance to learn.
I look back at my hands. They feel stronger after the nap but I know it won't last long. I try to get up and manage it with some difficulty. From what I heard the doctors say, I understood that my lungs are dying. Then why is my whole body so weak? The coughing makes sense but why do my legs and feet, and arms, and hands hurt? Science is stupid...
I walk to the door, it's open wide but before I can look out a boy passes by. His hair is short and has a bright orange colour, big blue eyes are locked on my feet.
"Why aren't you wearing shoes?" I don't know why, but he is whispering the words to me as if we have a common secret.
"I like it this way," I walk out of my room and look around. Strange, it's so quiet and empty today. Must be the rain. "What are you doing here?"
"My Mama is sick, so I'm staying with her for a while," he looks at the top of my head. "Why do you have such short hair? Are you a boy or a girl?"
"I am a girl! I'm dying, they tried to heal me but only made my hair fall out. I had long, silky hair, it was so pretty," I touch my scalp, I can still feel the bones, my hair isn't growing fast enough. I don't want to die without my hair. I feel my eyes water again. "You're ugly, go away!"
"Mama says I'm a handsome boy, why should I care what you say?" His light brows shift in a disbelieving notion. It's so strange, he looks as if his head was touched by the sun.
"What are you, four? You should know by now, that adults never tell the truth, they don't want us to be sad so they lie or just stay silent," I start making small steps through the hallway.
"I'm not four, I'm already six years old!" So he's a year younger than I am, looks older though. He runs up beside me. "And if you're sick that doesn't give you the right to be so mean."
I want to push him away and say that I can do whatever I want, but suddenly my eyes are foggy again. I sit down, almost falling, with a nasty taste in my throat. Unconsciousness - one word among many others that I accidentally learned because of my condition.
I can't see, no matter how much I try to widen my eyes, and my ears feel like I'm underwater. I have to keep my eyes open, it might work after all...
I wake up in my hospital bed. I'm sick of this happening over and over again, I hate the long needles in my arms and the stupid tubes in my nose. I know I will die soon, why can't it just happen already? I'm tired all the time and so unhappy, where's the point in all of this?
Daddy is sitting next to my bed, head in hands. This is the worst thing of all. I could handle the pain, it's been part of my life forever, but seeing him get hurt because of me makes it even more painful.
I cry. I cry because of my short life, I cry because I never had a real childhood, I cry because of Daddy, I cry because of Mommy. What will happen when I'm no longer around to put at least the smallest smile on Daddy's face? He will be all alone. But maybe this way he'll actually find happiness? I'm just a burden and disappointment as a dying child.
"Sammy, what's wrong? Are you in pain?" Again that question. It's always the same. I never cry when it hurts, but Daddy still asks me if it does.
"I hate my life!" I try to shout but all that gets out is a whisper. "Why can't I just die already?"
I want to scream, I want my lungs to burn and die, I will die with them and be free. Maybe in the next life I'll be a butterfly, pretty, with big strong wings.
Before I can do or say anything more, a nurse enters the room and does something to the liquid flowing into my arm. I fall asleep again.
This time when I wake up I see the boy from the corridor standing at my feet. He's not saying anything, just stares at me with a sad look in his eyes.
"Why are you here? What do you want? Where is my Daddy?" I frown, angry at the boy. It's his fault that I fell asleep again.
"Why are you so mean and angry all the time?" He pouts at me, pulling down his shirt, stretching it nervously to his knees.
"I'm going to die soon, should I be happy about that?" Scowling, I look away, I look at the window, it's still raining.
"No, but that doesn't mean you have to be a bad person because of it, does it?" The boy comes closer, his eyes wide. He has really big eyes. "Mama probably will die soon too. The doctors don't say anything but I hear them talk to my Mama. Most words I don't know but I know that she'll die soon. She's still nice to everyone, but she's also really sad all the time..."
I don't know how to answer. I stay silent.
"See, you can still be a good person even if you don't have lots of time to live," he looks at my hand, takes it and rubs with both of his, warming it. "I think your Papa has it worse than you do. He'll be alive when you'll be gone. Like I will be with my Mama."
"I know..." My voice is barely a whisper. I swallow. "I know this. I think that's why I'm still alive. Daddy tries so hard, and that's why I can't let go.
"I have these dreams. I run, I'm smiling, laughing. I can breathe as if I know how it feels like to do the right way. But then I wake up...
"I don't know how to say this, but I think I want to die. I think it will be better that way, it will be easier," my hand clings to his for no real reason.
"Hmm," he frowns, still looking at our hands. "Is there anything you would like to do before you die?"
"I don't know," I rest my head back on the pillow, tired again. My hands actually feel warmer. "Maybe go to one of those zoos where there are big... I don't know what they're called," I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to find the missing word. "Where you can go through a tunnel with fishies around you."
"Oh, I know a zoo that has that!" I look at him, the boy gets excited, eyes wide, he tugs at my arm. "I think your Papa can let you see that! Why not? You don't know how much time there's left for you, right? Did you ask him before?"
"No. I didn't want him to worry even more," I frown at him again. "I can't even walk out of this room without fainting, are you crazy?"
"But you don't need to walk or do anything to see that," he grins. "Would you like me to ask your Papa? I can ask if you're scared."
"I don't know," I whisper again. "You really think we could do that?"
"I think it would be good for you, maybe you won't be so angry after that."
"Okay," I try to smile. He turns and starts to go away, but I stop him. "Hey, what is your name?"
"Benjie," he looks back at me and grins. "Yours?"
"Sammy," I smile back.
"Are you ready sweetie?" Daddy asks, putting his hands on my shoulders. "If you'll feel any pain, you'll let me know, right? We'll come back right away."
"Yes," No. "I'll be fine, Daddy."
"Alright then," he helps me get into my new wheelchair. "Where's your little friend?"
"I'm here, sir," Benjie stands by the door, fidgeting with his shirt again. "I just came by to say goodbye."
He comes closer and hugs me. I feel confused.
"Good luck with your little adventure, I hope it'll help," he whispers in my ear.
"Wait, aren't you coming with me?" I pull back, my eyes wide and pleading. "This was your idea, you must come with! Daddy, can't he come with us?"
"I don't know, we will need to ask his parents," Daddy says, and with that we all follow Benjie to his Mommy's room.
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