I can't believe it. Why did I come here? After all these years, why now?
My names Jericho. I'm a twenty year old who's life has gone downhill since birth. Yes, since birth. Let me explain.
When I was born, it was a miracle I even survived. It cost my mom's life, so yeah; I killed my mom. Ever since then, my dad's treated me like the most precious thing in the world. He says I remind him of her. Was she a disappointment as well? Was she a murderer as well? Was she pathetic as well? I sure as hell hope I don't remind him of her.
By the time I graduated to middle school, I'd already built a reputation of the quiet kid. You know, the one that's always depressed and planning to murder anybody who talks to them? Yeah, well, that was me. I never showed emotion, scared that if I did, people would get attached and I'd hurt them. I didn't react and I didn't feel. I would barely even talk.
When I entered high school, I became a shadow. Nobody paid any mind to me, and if they did, they were flat out ignored. I didn't like interaction and I didn't like people. I despised getting up in the morning and laying down at night. I dreaded going to school each day, but hated coming back home even more. I left home because it haunted me, only to go to school where I hardly even had a presence, then go back home to be showered in tears full of pity from my pathetic dad.
I graduated high school last year and immediately fled from home. I haven't contacted anybody since. My dad thinks I'm dead and the world doesn't know I exist since I burned all of my identification certificates. I wasn't in any of my year books and I didn't have any friends to remember me. I had disappeared off the face of the Earth. I used fake IDs to get where I needed to be and go where I needed to go. As far as the world knew, my name was Teddy Flauntour, a twenty-one year old, single man, who lived alone in an apartment downtown.
Now an adult, I devoted myself to the streets, small jobs, and a life of pain.
But somehow, I ended up here. I looked up, reading the words on the two gravestones.
Amy Dostrine Jericho Dostrine
loving mother hardworking son
beautiful wife young man
"That's the shittiest engraving I've ever read," I muttered. It was raining, staining the two gravestones a dark grey. My black hoodie was pulled over my head, getting drenched. I stuffed my hands into my hoodie's front pocket.
"Hey! Who are you?" somebody called and a bright circle of light shone on me. I didn't turn around. I didn't need to. I'd recognize that voice anywhere. It was haunting me.
"You look just like her!... your eyes remind me of her!... you act just like your mom!"
I squeezed my eyes shut. Get out, get out! My mind screamed at me.
"Hey, you! Answer me! Who are you and what business do you have with those two?" my father demanded to know, his footsteps drawing nearer. I didn't answer, but simply grabbed my backpack, which contained everything I owned, and walked past the two gravestones without looking back.
"Hey! I'm talking to you!"
"Fuck off, old man!" I yelled, deepening my voice so he couldn't recognize it. I walked faster and faster until I made it out of the cemetery. I glanced over my shoulder to see a hooded figure on his knees in front of the two graves. It broke my heart, though I wouldn't admit it. Never in a million years. I was a coward for running away. I was pathetic for not coming back. But I was suffering. I was haunted by his words. I hated myself. I hated how I looked and I hated how I acted. So I changed. I became cold to my dad and when I finally ran away, I changed my looks. I dyed my honey brown hair a dark black and had it permanently straightened, though it was still somewhat wavy. I couldn't do anything about my pale green eyes, so I left them as they were. I hated looking at them and I wore my hood and kept my gaze down at all times.
"I'm sorry, dad," I whispered, the rain drowning out my words. They wouldn't have reached him. Even if I yelled as loud as I could. I continued walking, having no place to go, to try and find shelter someplace. A car zipped past me, water splashing from the road onto the sidewalk I was walking on, soaking my already drenched sneakers. I clenched my fists, hoping to keep them warm. I looked up through empty eyes when a large, lighted up building caught my eye.
I quickened my pace towards the building, but carelessly tripped over my untied, ripped up shoelace, sending me flying towards the ground.
I hissed when I felt sharp pain surge through my ankle. I stood up, cursing. I should have been more careful. Now I was soaked, hurt, and freezing. I began limping, shouldering my backpack to make it easier to carry.
It was pouring hard by the time I reached the building. I shakily limped into the building, immediately alerting a nurse who rushed to my side.
"Sir, sir? Are you okay? Where are you hurt? I need backup! His heartbeat is slowing drastically!" she yelled. I winced at the noise. God, I hated loud noises. She most likely noticed me glaring at her when she guiltily apologized and took a step back. A second later, a thick blanket was draped over my shoulders. I nodded in thanks, refusing to use my voice.
"Sir, come with us, you're freezing. We need to do a check up on your leg," another doctor said, helping my to my feet. I grabbed my backpack. I hated leaning on people; relying on people. I was sick of it. I shrugged her hands off me and limped after her without help. She tried to help again, but I glared at her and she shrunk in fear.
I was lead to an empty room where I was sat on a white bed. A change of clothes was brought to me, along with a towel and I was instructed to change and dry off.
Once the nurses and doctors left my room, I quickly stripped off my sopping wet clothes and shoes and begun to dry myself. I was shivering noticeably by now. I slipping into the new pair of clothes I was brought and threw my backpack down near the bed. A knock sounded on my door, but I didn't say anything, instead opting to get in bed and get a couple hours of sleep. The door cracked open.
"I'm Doctor Tony. I'll be inspecting that hurt leg of yours. Mind sitting up?" somebody said from the door. I sighed, but complied due to the throbbing in my ankle. I needed it fixed so I could get out of here once it stopped raining.
"Alright, you should be fine. It's just a minor sprain. May I ask how you came to be like this?" the annoying doctor asked. I shook my head, declining his question. He sighed, but got up and left anyways. I laid down, my wrapped ankle snug under the covers, and shut my eyes. As soon as I was about to drift off to sleep, my door opened again. I groaned audibly.
"Sorry, Mr. Flauntour, I just have a couple questions regarding how you came to be like this. You wouldn't mind answering them for me, would you?" a boy around my age asked, using my fake last name. I stared at him angrily. Of course I mind, you dumb idiot. Who wouldn't? I was just about to go to sleep too. The boy didn't seem to want to wait for an answer and started questioning me anyways. I laid back down in bed and turned on my side, my back facing the boy.
"So, why were you outside in the rain and how did you sprain your ankle?" he asked. I didn't answer. I didn't want to use my voice. The voice that apparently sounded so much like my mother's. The boy sighed.
"I have to get an answer to these questions or we'll be forced to kick you out," he tried. I rolled my eyes. If he thought the threat would help his situation, he was mistaken. It wouldn't be my first time spending the night outside in the freezing rain with an injury, and it definitely wouldn't be my last. I'd gotten used to the sting of freezing rain. I couldn't count how many times I've slept in it with just a t-shirt covering my torso. Still, just because I'd gotten used to the feeling, didn't mean I liked it.
"You don't know?" he asked and I nodded, obviously lying to him.
"Hey, turn and face me when I'm talking to you. I can hardly make out if that's a nod or not," he commanded and I rolled my eyes before sitting up, facing the boy but keeping my head angled down.
"Okay. Did you trip?"
I nodded and he wrote something down.
"We're you harmed by somebody else? Like another person?"
I shook my head.
"Why were out in the rain? Do you have a home?"
I glared at him, nodding even though it was a lie. He sighed, marking something down, then asked if I had any sort of transportation to which I answered with a short shake of my head,
"Alright. That's all for now. A doctor will call a taxi for you to get home. Write down your address here," he said, handing me a piece of paper and a pen. I stared at the paper. I shook my head.
"Huh? What do you mean, no? Write it down!" the boy exclaimed, shoving the paper and pen into my hands. I glared at them and shook my head again. I didn't have an address. I didn't have a home. He sighed, exasperated, and left the room, muttering something in a different language under his breath. I threw the paper and pen on the ground and limping over to switch my lights off before climbing back into bed.
I closed my eyes, remembering tonight's events. I can't believe that after all those years of neglecting and ignoring that my mom even existed, I wound up at her grave. Well, our graves. Then my dad; he looked so upset. I hate that I'm breaking him like this. I hate that I survived my birth. I knew he was depressed after I grew old enough to know what that was. I knew he was depressed all those times where I yelled at him and he just smiled. I knew he was depressed when I left home and ran away. I knew he was depressed when I saw him at that cemetery tonight. But I still ignored him. I still yelled at him. I still left him all alone. I still lied to him. I took a deep breath and tried clearing my mind, letting sleep take over.
There was a knock.
I didn't even bother to sit up, but instead grabbed the nearest thing on the bedside desk next to me and chucked it at the door in anger and annoyance. The clock splintered into plastic pieces in the corner of the room where I'd missed the door. There was a shriek from the other side of the wood and scampering footsteps. I snickered a little, closing my eyes again.
Then somebody else busted into my room.
I'm seriously sick of this. I sat up this time and grabbed another object, throwing it at the person who decided it was okay to just come in. I mean, at least the other person knocked. They quickly dodged the flying pen which clattered to the floor. I let my eyes focus on the boy in front of me. He was about my height with frazzled light brown hair and dark brown, almost black, eyes with a glint of mischief in it. I glared at him. What's with the doctors at this damn hospital? I grabbed another pen, chucking at his head. He surprisingly caught it and threw it right back. I caught it, confused. He held a finger up to his lips. I scoffed internally. Like I was gonna talk to the guy in the first place.
"Hey, he went this way!" somebody yelled from the hallway my room was connected to. The guy's head jerked towards the door and panic flashed in his eyes. The footsteps quickly approached my room and he looked around, his wandering eyes coming to a halt on my bed. Knowing what he was thinking, I shook my head, but he just smirked and jumped onto the bed, shuffling under the covers until he was safely hidden from sight. My door swung open. I glared at the group of doctors with a flushed face, wincing at the sudden burst of light.
"Did a boy about this tall," a girl asked, holding up her hand, "with light brown hair come this way?"
I nodded. Her eyes widened.
"Where did he go?"
I stared at her, then my eyes widened when the boy's hand slid itself up my shirt, as if telling me to keep my mouth shut. It surprisingly worked, as all train of thought I had left and I just mindlessly shook my head 'no'. The doctors sighed when they realized I wasn't gonna talk and split up, running down the halls of the hospital.
The boy slid out from under my covers, face red. I glared at him.
"Thanks, man!" he said, about to sneak out of my room.
"What the fuck!" I yelled, coming to my senses. I yanked myself out of bed and launched myself at the boy. Due to the loud crash, doctors came running back. His back hit the door and I climbed on top of him, sitting on his waist and throwing aimless punches. How dare he? What the fuck did he think he was doing? Did he think he'd just get away with it? I angrily threw my fists at his face. He held up his arms to block my punches, yelling out in protest. The doctors tried getting in but we were blocking the door, not letting the doctors in.
"Stop! Stop!" one of the doctors said, eventually getting the door open and slipping inside, pulling me off the boy. Another doctor grabbed the boy and held him tightly so he couldn't run away.
Suddenly, the boy began shaking uncontrollably. The doctor holding him, carefully let him slide to the ground and placed his jacket under his head, pulling his phone out and clicking a couple buttons. It all happened so fast.
The boy stopped shaking and laid there, not speaking for a couple minutes before sitting up and breathing harshly. I was stunned. What just happened? Did I do that? Did I cause this? Did I hurt somebody else again? I scrambled to my feet, grabbing my bag and rushing away from the scene, despite the sharp pain in my ankle. I ran around the hospital, looking desperately for the exit and wishing I had paid more attention to the way I had gone when I was following that damn nurse. I cursed under my breath when I reached a dead end. Two doctors had caught up, as did the pain in my ankle, and I crumpled to the floor, unable to get up.
"Hey, calm down, okay? You're okay, just-"
"Get away from me!" I yelled, my voice cracking. My dad's voice rung in my ears.
"You're so like her!... did you know that was her favorite color too?..."
"No, no, no! Get out, get out! Get out of my head! Fuck you; get out!" I screamed, covering my ears with my hands. The doctors slowly approached me, as if I was a wild animal. I looked at them in the eyes for the first time and they froze; most people did. My crazy, pale green eyes stared into theirs. One of them snapped out of the trance and rushed to help, but I let my fist fly once more, clocking him in the jaw. I kicked the other one with my good foot and used the wall to help me stand, shouldering my backpack. Adrenaline pumped through my veins, numbing the pain in my ankle yet again as I made another run for the exit.
This time I managed to find it and bolted out into the freezing rain. I was only wearing a thin white shirt and a pair of black sweatpants, but I didn't care. I ran until I completed collapsed on the sidewalk. Panting heavily, I scooted over to lean against a brick wall and closed my eyes. Before I knew it, I was out like a light.
"-ke up! Wake up! Are you alright?"
I cracked my eyes open, swallowing and making a face at the taste. I was met by the eyes of the boy from yesterday. My eyes widened and I scrambled to my feet, before buckling down again.
"Oh my god, are you okay?" he asked frantically. "Here, follow me. I'll take you to my house. Is your leg okay?"
I grunted, pushing him away and standing up more carefully this time. I slung my backpack onto one of my shoulders and began to hobble away. Unfortunately, the boy was stubborn and began to walk next to me. I sighed and stopped, turning to face him.
"Hm?" he asked. I glared at him and he cocked his head to the side. I rolled my eyes and sighed, gesturing for him to lead the way. He beamed at me and began to walk before stumbling and falling to the ground. I watched him get back up shakily, face red from embarrassment. I snickered a little and followed him to an apartment building which I guessed was where he lived. If he was offering, I wasn't going to pass up a free shower. I haven't had a proper one in about a week. All I had was an almost empty bottle of toothpaste, a toothbrush, my wallet, and a small knife in my bag.
"Welcome to my home!" he said, letting me inside when we arrived at his floor. I looked around before slipping my damp sneakers off and heading for what looked to be his bathroom. I set my bag down and walked across the hall to his room, rummaging through his shit until I found a pair of clothes. I was right. He was around my size, just an inch or two shorter.
I carried the change of clothes to the bathroom and turned his shower handle until warm water came out. I stripped and stepped in, relishing in the warmth.
I probably stayed in his shower for around thirty minutes just standing there, before I finally began cleaning myself with his bath products. I carefully cleaned my ankle, trying not to irritate it more than it already was. I had unwrapped the bandage and noticed that it was a deep purplely-green color. I didn't know how I was able to limp all the way here in only moderate pain.
When I'd finished my shower, I got out and changed into his clothes. I draped a smaller towel over my head, letting the ends fall over my shoulders and padded into the living room. I'd picked out a big, black, long sleeved shirt and a pair of red basketball shorts with socks. I stared at the boy lounging on his couch on his phone, waiting for him to notice me and tell me to do something. I wasn't good with interacting with people because I never really did or tried to. After a couple seconds, he looked over his shoulder and spotted me.
"Need something? Is your leg okay?" he asked. I shook my head, rubbing my eyes.
"You look like a little kid right now," he commented. I answered him with a glare. Well sorry that I like to be comfortable. And it's your fault for having big clothes in the first place. He smiled again, patting the spot next to him. I walked over and sat on a different couch. The one furthest away from the boy.
"Can you speak?" he asked. I noticed that his arm or leg would jerkily flinched every once in a while. Like they had a mind of their own. I nodded, then realized I had already spoken to him. Had he not remembered. A droplet of water fell onto my hand from my hair and I turned my attention to it. It was pretty.
"Is your leg okay? Why aren't you talking right now?" he asked. I shrugged, getting irritated. What was this, an interview? I thought cops did that shit, not doctors. Well, that one annoying kid interviewed me yesterday, so I guess I was wrong.
".. y-you don't know? I think that's a problem. Why were you at the hospital? Are you sick? Did you get hurt? Are you dying?" he asked all at once. I just stared blankly at him. Is this guy okay? What's with all the questions?
"Sorry," he said, looking down. My eyes widened. For some reason, I felt the need to talk to this guy. I haven't purposefully talked to anybody in around a year. So why this guy? I don't even know his name or anything about him! I sighed, trusting my gut.
"No need to apologize. What's your name?" I asked, catching his attention. I clenched my jaw in embarrassment as he stared at me.
"It's Griffin. You?"
"Teddy..." I lied.
"Your eyes are pretty. I've never seen anybody with those eyes before," he commented. I nodded awkwardly. We sat in silence, me staring at my socked feet and him staring at me.
"Are you wearing my boxers?" he asked suddenly, surprising me with the abrupt question. I hesitantly shook my head.
"Oh. Are you wearing yours? Aren't they wet?" he asked next. I bit my lip in embarrassment, my ears felt hot. I shook my head 'no' again. I didn't want to wear wet boxers, but wearing his seemed like overstepping by a lot.
"Wait. You're not wearing any underwear?" he asked in what sounded like shock. I was refusing to look him in the eyes or at all for that matter. I didn't even answer his question this time, but he got the memo.
"It's fine if you want to wear mine. I don't care," he said. I didn't answer again.
"Talk!" he yelled angrily, causing me to flinch hard, my head jerking up towards him.
"S-sorry. I'll- okay," I stuttered, my heart beat speeding up.
"Sorry!" he apologized. "You don't have to talk, I'm sorry. Sorry."
Very confused, I got up and hobbled into his room, quickly choosing a pair of clean boxers and putting them on. I limped back out to the living room where Griffin had his head in his hands. Was he crying?
"Are you okay?" I asked quietly. I didn't know what to say. I didn't want to say anything.
"Yeah, why? Want me to look at your leg?" he asked, looking at me. I guess he wasn't crying. Then he looked at the clock. "Shit! I've got to go to the hospital. You can come if you wanna."
"Uh, no," I declined bluntly. "I've gotta get back to my... home."
"Oh okay. Bye then! Feel free to use the washing machine for your clothes, bye!" Griffin said. I nodded, even though I didn't have a clue on how to work a washing machine. He shut the door after a couple of seconds and I was left alone in a stranger's apartment. I wonder how old that guy is. Can't be older than twenty, right? How old do you have to be to become a doctor again? I shrugged to myself, going back to the bathroom and picking up the damp clothes. I rummaged through his kitchen drawers until I found a plastic bag. Stuffing the clothes into the bag and smooshing the bag into my backpack, I left his apartment, making sure to lock it.
I wandered around until I found the exit to the building and started limping. I didn't know where to go. I didn't have anywhere to go. The boy seemed well off, so I don't think he'll mind me taking these clothes. Plus, it's not like I'm going to ever see him again. It was still chilly outside, so I swung my bag onto my shoulders and stuffed my hands into the pockets of the red shorts I was wearing. Goosebumps popped up on my legs and arms and my ankle still hurt, but at least I was alive.
The smell of sanitizer filled my nose and I kept my head down. The white walls of the hospital blinded me. How did even get here? What was I doing? I walked through the halls, consciously knowing exactly who I was looking for. I peeked into rooms after rooms on floor after floor. Tons of doctor and nurses walked past me, but none of them were Griffin. Griffin. Griffin. Griffin. My thoughts were orbiting around him. I couldn't think of anything else. What was so special about Griffin? He was just an ordinary doctor! I sighed, stopping and sliding my back down a wall until I was sitting on the floor, head in my hands.
"Teddy?" a voice sounded. No. Griffin's voice sounded. My head snapped up. Griffin was standing in front of me with a confused look on his face. He wasn't wearing the clothes he left in. Instead, a hospital gown was draped over his shoulders, down to his knees. His hand was wrapped around a rolling IV bag stand which had a tube that connect to Griffin's inner elbow. He looked pale.
"Why are you here? Are you still wearing my clothes? Where's yours? What happened?" he asked all at once, but I wasn't listening. I was too busy asking my own questions. Why are you wearing that? What happened? Are you okay? What is that metal pole for? Unlike Griffin, I didn't say them out loud.
"Hey, it's the runaway kid!" somebody said. My eyes found the floor in seconds as two doctors ran to Griffin and I. They were the same two doctors from before.
"Yeah, the one with those crazy eyes!" the other one said. "Hey, are you okay? What happened last night?"
I ignored every one of their questions.
"Wait is that the rude one who ignored all of my questions?" another voice said. The annoying interview kid. I want them to leave. Go away. Leave me alone.
I didn't say any of that, though, and just waited angrily for them to go away.
"He needs space! Don't crowd him, he mi- ngh!" Griffin stopped abruptly.
"Get a timer!" one of the doctors yelled. I peeked up a little to see Griffin shaking on the floor again. Why did I always hurt him? Is he okay? I scrambled to my knees and knelt next to him. The doctors had, yet again, put a jacket under his head. My eyes frantically, searched his. He stopped shaking after a minute or two. I waited a little before he took a harsh breath. Why didn't the doctors help him?
"S-sorry," he panted.
"No need to apologize, Grif, you can't help it," the interview boy said. He looked over to me and smiled.
"Oh, hi Teddy!" he said happily. I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion. He noticed and asked the doctors for some space. They agreed and hesitantly left us alone.
"What happened?" I asked quietly.
"You can talk?" he asked. I glared at him. Now was not the time for joking around.
"Yes. What happened?"
"Oh. I just had a seizure. It's okay, it happens," he said with another smile. There was something wrong with Griffin. Something very wrong. I pointed at the metal pole which the doctors had taken out when he started seizing. Griffin clutched his head. He carefully and expertly inserted the IV needle back in place.
"This is just for my medication," he said. I cocked my head to the side.
"I have HD. It's short for Huntington's Disease. But it's okay, because I'll be just fine," he explained cheerfully. He was too cheerful. He was sick and he was smiling. Something was very, very off. I had a feeling this boy wasn't going to be okay, that he wasn't going to be 'just fine' at all.
"I thought you were a doctor," I admitted and he burst of laughing.
"That's okay! I've always wanted to be a doctor! I'm only nineteen, so I'm still in high school," he said. So I was right. He wasn't older than me.
"I'm twenty," I muttered, internally slapping myself. It's not like he cared, dipshit.
"I totally thought you were eighteen!" Griffin exclaimed, giggling loudly. "You have this innocent young look to you, ya know!"
I blinked and stared blankly at him. He looked so happy. I wish I could be that happy.
"So what are you doing here?" he asked. I shrugged. It wasn't a lie this time; I actually had no idea why I was here. He nodded.
I looked into his eyes, confused. He didn't know what he was doing here? Wasn't it because he was sick?
"What do you mean?" I asked. He shrugged.
"Exactly what it sounds like. I don't know what I'm doing here. I should be outside. I should be on the beach. I should be hiking up a mountain. I should be scuba diving and swimming with sharks. I should be laying in the grass with the love of my life, stargazing. But I'm here, in a hospital. I have no idea what I'm doing," he said, his mood dropping drastically. I nodded as if I understood, but I really didn't. I didn't understand a word of it. I should be here. I should be in this city, in this situation. I should be broken and hurt. I should be homeless. I'd come here through my own actions, so I definitely should be sleeping on the streets. I deserved it.
Griffin's turned to me with an embarrassed smile.
"What was I just saying?" he asked. I didn't answer him. I didn't want him to know. He looked sad when he was talking a few minutes ago. He looked broken. He looked like me. I didn't want to see him look like that ever again. I wanted to protect him from the world.
"Can I come over again?" I asked Griffin who smiled brightly and nodded.
"Prop your leg up here. I can't believe you'd gone this long without proper care!" Griffin scolded. I didn't answer, propping my leg up where he wanted it. He carefully rubbed some type of oil on it and wrapped white cloth around it.
"That should do it."
I nodded in thanks. We sat in silence for a little bit, before I spoke up.
"What's Huntington's Disease?"
Griffin looked up in surprise but I had already averted my eyes. I usually wasn't one to speak up first, as he could probably already tell. It didn't bother me as much I thought it would when he didn't answer, but just stared at me. Did he go into shock or something? I talked first, big deal. It's not like the world ended.
It's been a couple seconds and I was getting impatient. I began to glare at Griffin to get him to stop staring, then, I topped it all off with a hard flick to his forehead.
"Ouch!" he exclaimed, cupping his forehead with his hand. He smiled at me and started laughing. I stared blankly at him, again. I seemed to be doing that a lot often. I'd usually just advert my eyes and stare at my shoes, but with Griffin, I felt the need to look at him, to talk to him, to touch him.
"Sorry, what were we talking about?" he asked. I didn't have the energy to repeat the question, so I answered him, with a shrug. I'd find out somehow later.
"Well, okay then," he said before offering to watch a movie. I agreed.
"Have one in mind? I can't choose."
I was caught a little off guard. It's been years since I last sat down and watched a movie. In fact, it's been years since I've used technology of my own in general. Obviously, the television screens in public I've seen, but I've not watched anything personally for a long time. I had to think for a little bit before one popped up in my mind. One I've watched countless times with my dad when I was very little. It was the only good thing I remembered from my childhood.
"Is The Fault in our Stars okay?" I asked quietly. He was looking at me curiously with his computer in his arms.
"Okay. I've never seen that before, is it good?" he asked, clicking something on his computer, then tapping a bunch of keys. I nodded.
"It's my favorite movie. Last time I watched it I was just a little kid," I said, surprised with myself. I usually didn't open up at all to anybody. I needed to stay non existed in the world and the best way to do that is to have no friends, no family, and no identity.
I nodded, my blank expression not changing a bit. He stared at me with no shame. I was growing uncomfortable and shifted in the spot where I was sitting.
"You don't show many emotions, do you?" he said finally. I shrugged, a little taken aback. Nobody's ever asked me anything of the sort before. Actually, people usually just didn't talk to me in the first place. I looked just as homeless as I was.
"Oh, I got the movie to work! Come over here," Griffin said, motioning with his hands. I got up and walked to him, only limping a tad. We both walked to his bedroom and crawled under his blankets. He had a pretty big bed so there was plenty of space for the two of us. He set the computer down in between us and played the movie.
Half way through the movie, my eyelids began to get heavy. I snuggled into the blanket more, getting comfortable. I stole a glance at Griffin. He was focused on the movie, but the drooping of his eyes told me he was really tired. My eyes trailed down to his hand which was clenching jerkily; like it was twitching. It reminded me of the disease Griffin had. Was it contagious? What was it? Was it deadly? Was Griffin going to be okay? I let my eyes drop closed.
When I woke up that morning, Griffin was already awake. He was just looking at me, but it looked like he wasn't really looking at me. He was staring into space.
"Griffin?" I asked. He blinked, snapping out of whatever state of zoning out he was in.
"Hm? Was I staring? Sorry..." he mumbled, rubbing his eyes. I noticed he had dark eye bags under his almost black eyes.
"Did you sleep?" I asked the tired looking boy. He smiled sleepily and shook his head. I sat up straight and faced him with slight concern.
"I'm okay, though, I'm used to pulling all nighters," he said, reasoning more with himself than me. I rolled out of his bed and checked the time. I should probably go. I couldn't see Griffin anymore. I had to leave him forever. I couldn't get attached and I couldn't open up to him.
"I-I have to get going. I've got to get home, my... mom is probably worried," I lied, pulling on my own socks and grabbing my clothes which he had washed and dried for me. I made my way to the bathroom.
"But you don't have a home..." Griffin said quietly, but not so quiet that I couldn't hear him. I turned around quickly.
"What did you say?" I asked for clarification. He looked me dead in the eye.
"You don't have a home to go to though."
"Excuse me? I-I do. Look, I've gotta get going. Thanks for letting me stay," I rushed out. How did he know? I quickly walked to his bathroom and stripped, changing into my own clothes and folding his, placing them on his bathroom counter. Was his disease like a superpower?
"Okay, goodbye, Griffin, I'll see you around," I said quietly, coming out of the bathroom.
"You talk in your sleep. If you were wondering how I figured it out," he said quickly. "Please don't leave me... I didn't mean to scare you."
"No, I didn't get scared, I just have to go. My d-"
"No! You have to stay!" he yelled angrily, interrupting me and scaring me again. I shut my mouth immediately, slipping into my sneakers and bolting.
"Stop!" Griffin yelled behind me. I checked behind my shoulder and saw Griffin trip over his feet, sending him to the ground. He tried to get up, but poor coordination didn't let him. He began to shake uncontrollably, causing me to stop in my tracks. Not again, is he okay? It's all my fault! I always make him do this! He always gets hurt because of me. I tried to remember what the doctor had done and rushed to his side, stripping my hoodie off and placing it under his head. I began to count in my head, since I didn't have a timer, and wait until he stopped.
This one was longer than the ones at the hospital. I wonder if I did it correctly. Did I miss something? Was he dying? Finally, after around five minutes, he stopped shaking. I was panicking at this point and began to ask Griffin if he was okay. He didn't answer. I knew he needed medical attention, so I picked him up carefully and carried him out of the building and started towards the hospital.
Luckily, I remembered the way and made it there pretty quickly.
I panted heavily, running to the front desk. The nurse looked up.
"It's you! Wait, Griffin?" she asked. I nodded, almost dropping the unconscious boy on my back.
"I need backup!" the girl called. Doctors rushed out and saw Griffin, taking him from me and bringing him into a room.
"You have to stay out here, okay? He's going to be okay. Do you know how long the seizure lasted?" a doctor asked. I nodded, holding up a shaky hand, then five fingers.
"Around five minutes?" the doctor asked and I nodded rapidly.
"Hey, hey, he's gonna be okay, okay? Calm down, yeah? You did a good job dealing with the seizure, seeing at his breathing is steady and he's not hurt. Are you his friend?" the doctor asked. I started to nod my head, but shook it instead, biting my lip nervously. I didn't know if Griffin considered me his friend after I almost killed him.
I shook my head again.
"So you just met him? Has he told you anything about his medical conditions?"
I nodded my head this time. He did tell me he had a disease, I just didn't know what it was. Was it serious? He didn't seem like he was dying or anything? Maybe it's just like epilepsy or something.
"So he told you he had Huntington's Disease but you're not his friend or family?" the doctor asked. I stared blankly at him, nodding my head.
"Would you like me to tell you a little about the disease?" he offered with a smile. I nodded again. "Can you speak at all?"
I paused, hesitantly nodding my head.
"No, it's okay. You can keep doing what you're doing; I don't mind. Huntington's disease is very uncommon for people under thirty, but people under twenty can develop a Juvenile Huntington's Disease through genes. It's not contagious, but it is fatal and nobody's discovered a cure yet..." his voice became faint as it faded into the background of my thoughts. So he was dying. It felt as if I was just hit by a brick, just now realizing how serious his disease was. He's dying and all I've been doing is giving him seizures. I'm a terrible person. I can't be here when he wakes up. I need to get out of here and leave. I can't see him after what I've been doing. My thought were interrupted by an opening door.
My head jerked to the sound of my false identity. Griffin was standing there, and IV attached to him. He was wearing a hospital gown. The bags around his eyes hadn't disappeared and he looked more tired than I've ever seen him; not that I've seen him for long in the first place. He innocently looked at me.
"Griffin? Is he your friend?" the doctor asked. Griffin nodded, his eyes not leaving mine. I gulped uncomfortably. I didn't like eye contact, especially with Griffin. It felt as if his eyes were staring into my soul. I hated it. I never knew what the boy was thinking.
"Can I spend some time with Teddy outside?" he asked the doctor who thought for a bit and nodded.
"Be careful though. Teddy can help you walk if you need it," he instructed. The both of us nodded and Griffin grasped my hand in his, pulling me through the halls until we reached a small outside area. It was a paved circle with a small garden in the middle and park benches randomly planted around the pavement. I was dragged to one of the benches and I sat down, too tired to run away again.
"Teddy, can I have your number?"
"I... don't have a phone. Sorry to disappoint. I really have to go though."
"No, don't!" Griffin demanded. I looked at him wearily.
"Okay... I won't."
"I'm sorry, you can go if you'd like. I just know you're not coming back if I let you leave," he said quietly, frowning a little.
"I heard about your disease."
That caught Griffin's attention and he raised his head to face me.
"Yeah. The, uh, doctor told me. I won't ask for more information, don't worry," I assured. Griffin shook his head.
"It's fine. Even if you did, I wouldn't have an answer. I just know what it's called and the main symptom. I haven't taken the time to look it up or whatever. Too lazy, I guess," he shrugged. I nodded, a little surprised. Did he know it would eventually kill him? Should I tell him? No, I'm sure he knows.
"I'm lonely," Griffin said suddenly. "I've been at this hospital for weeks now and nobody has come to see me. I hated it here, I still do. But now that you came, it's less lonely. But now you're leaving."
"I'm not leaving forever. Just a day or two. Seriously, okay?" I said, not even processing what I had just promised. I just knew I hated the frown on Griffin's face. It needed to go so I did what I had to. Immediately, his face lit up.
"Really?" he asked, "Really, really?"
"Yeah, really. I'll be back in a couple days, alright? I just gotta take a break from all this hospital mumbo jumbo," I said. Part of it was a lie and part of it wasn't. I was going to keep my promise of returning, but it might a more than just a couple days. I did need a break from the hospital though. It ironically made me sick. Griffin nodded in understanding.
"Okay. Okay, I'll see you in a few days," he said. I stood up from the bench and followed Griffin to the entrance of the hospital. I stood in the doorway while Griffin stood behind the front counter, IV bag pole in hand. I turned to look at him over my shoulder. The boy was waving and smiling. I waved back and slipped away from the sickly building. Pulling my hoodie's hood onto my head, I shoved my hands into my front pocket and began walking. Time to be homeless again. To be honest, I already missed having a home. Sleeping in a warm bed was definitely better than the sidewalk, but I'd managed for a while so I'd survive another night or two. Plus, it's not like when I'm done with these two days and go back to Griffin he'll be magically healed and we can live together. Even if a miracle did happen, he wouldn't want me living with me. I've already caused way too much trouble for him.
It was unusual. By now, I should've left and forgotten the boy, but here I was thinking about how nice it'd be to live with him. I would never let myself get so attached to somebody, much less somebody I knew wasn't going to make it. It didn't make sense to me and it still doesn't. Unfortunately, I met Griffin and now my world revolves around the sick boy. It's okay, he doesn't even miss me and even if he does, he can't wait a couple days, right?
It's been a week since I visited that dreaded hospital. I told myself that it'd be the last day, but I couldn't bring myself to enter the building. Multiple times I've found myself at the entrance, wanting to go inside but unable to. Other times, I've wound up at my grave, reading the engraving over and over again until it was cemented into my mind. I hated the stone. Just by reading the words you could tell that my own dad didn't know much about me. But it's not like I could blame him for my mistakes.
I looked up from my shoes, pushing the glass door open and stepping into the building. I took a deep breath and stuck my hands back into my hoodie's pocket. Slowly walking to the front desk, I waited until the boy noticed me.
"Oh, hello sir. What are you here for?" he asked. I stared blankly at him, blinking. Grabbing the pen next to the check in sheet, I scribbled down my fake name, Griffin's name, and the date.
"Teddy? You're here to see Griffin?" he asked and I answered with a nod. He smiled warmly and motioned for me to follow him.
"He hasn't had visitors in quite a long time. I'm glad you're here to keep him company. He's been getting worse and worse each day and being lonely is probably causing depression and drops in his mood. He stopped in front of a door and stepped away.
"I'll leave you to it then," he said, briskly walking back to the front. I took a deep breath before lightly turning the handle and pushing on the door. Griffin was laying in bed, his skin was paler than before and his cheeks were hollowed and sunken in. His eyes were sad and dark circles could be seen under them. Twitchy movements from his limbs were visible. There was a needle attached to an IV bag in his arm. His eyes moved from his room's window to me and he immediately lit up, a smile on his pale face.
"T-eddy!" he exclaimed hoarsely, his words broken. I didn't say anything, but stared in horror at the boy who I could barely recognize. So much had changed in a week's time and I wished I'd come sooner.
"I tho-ught yo-u weren't gon- gonna come," he said next. He reached over to a desk next to his bed and opened a drawer, revealing a phone.
"I got you a pre-sent!" he said, holding the phone out to me. "Don't w-worry about paying me b-ba-ck. It's not like- I'm going to li-ive long enough to use i-t."
"Don't say that," I said finally, walking over to the boy slowly and taking the present out of his shaky hands.
"Thank you, Griffin," I said sincerely. I had avoided him for a week and he'd gone and gotten me a phone in his sickly state. I'm a horrible person.
"Can we exch- exch- exchan-," he started, but couldn't get the word out. Frustration flashed through his eyes. "Can I have y-our numb-er, ple- please?"
I nodded immediately, turning the little device on. There wasn't a password set up yet. I gave Griffin the phone, not knowing what to do and watched as he tapped a couple buttons before handing it back. On the screen showed a contact under the name 'Griffin'. He made the profile picture a selfie I guessed he'd taken when he first got the phone. He was smiling at the camera, his skin a flushed color and his eyes bright. Though his skin was soft and thin, his eyes never stopped sparkling.
"Can I have my ph-phone please?" he asked and I grabbed his phone, handing it over. He tapped a couple buttons again.
"Ted-dy," he sounded out at he typed.
"Wait. You don't have to put that... it's not my actual name," I admitted, shocking myself. Was I really going to tell this boy my real name? He'd be the first to know since I'd supposedly died.
"It- it is-n't?" Griffin asked curiously. I nodded.
"Yeah. It's actually... um, Jericho. Put that instead."
"I like your na-me. It's really pretty..." he complimented, tapping a couple more buttons on his phone and giving it back.
"I want to go-o outside."
"Are you allowed? Are you gonna be okay? What if you're not allowed?" I wondered aloud. A soft chuckle escaped the brunette's lips. It was a weak, breathy sound, but it was a laugh nonetheless.
"I'm allowed and I'll be fine, Jeric-ho."
I nodded and helped the frail boy out of bed. His legs shook as his waddled towards the same garden he took me to a week ago. I tried to help as best as I could, but was inexperienced with these sort of things and probably didn't do much.
"Griffin! You should be laying down, what the heck do you think you're doing up!" a doctor exclaimed, rushing to his side. Griffin looked up with innocent confusion.
"But I'm okay..." he murmured. The doctor shook his head.
"I'll go grab you a wheelchair, alright?" he said, bustling off. He came back in after a minute or so and helped Griffin sit down who smiled brightly at me, despite his situation.
"Can y-o-yo-you push m-e?" he asked politely. I couldn't say no, and began to push Griffin, following his quiet directions to the garden. We arrived shortly and he immediately began to shiver. I slipped out of my hoodie, handing it to the sick boy who gratefully took it.
"Hm?" I answered distantly.
"I don't think I ha-ve much t-time lef-t..." he said quietly. I moved my eyes to look at him.
"Hey, don't say that."
"Do you think I'll be able to see a shoo-shoo-ting star before I g-go?" he asked next, changing the topic a little. I shrugged, looking up at the quickly darkening sky. Little bright dots started to appear amongst the blackness. I looked back down at Griffin who was consumed in the stars. It seemed as if the stars made his eyes their home, their light reflecting on his dark eyes. He noticed me staring and met my eye contact with a small smile.
"I re-really li-ke your eyes, Jericho."
"Thanks, I guess. I never really liked them," I admitted. I felt the need to share every dark secret, every memory, every thought I had with Griffin. I wanted to. I had to tell him everything, even if it didn't even matter to him or was even relevant to him in any way. I resisted the urge and kept my mouth shut.
"Why not?" he asked curiously. I shrugged. Because they remind me of my dad and he reminds me of the mom I never met.
"I don't know. They just remind me of something bad," was my simple answer. The wheel-chaired boy looked on curiously.
"What do the-ey remind you o-f?"
"My mom," I answered. He looked as if he wanted to know more, but didn't ask. I was grateful for it, not wanting to bring up bad memories and negative thoughts around the brunette.
"We should head back inside. You're getting colder and colder," I said after a moment of silence. Griffin didn't say anything back, but simply nodded in response, letting me push him back inside the white building. I wheeled him back to his room and helped him into bed. He leaned heavily on me, as if he was losing control of his body. He probably was.
"Wanna watch a mo-movie?" he asked softly. I nodded and he patted the spot next to him, letting me crawl under the blanket next to him. I grabbed him computer, which was sitting on his bedside desk, and clicked a couple buttons, unsure of what I was doing. A whispery laugh bubbled from Griffin's lips as he took the device from me.
"What do you want to watch?" I asked him. He shrugged, looking deep in thought.
"I'm not sure. My head hurts when I thi-nk too hard about some-some-thi-ng. You chose..." he said, closing his eyes briefly, just for them to be snapped open from a harsh flinch of his arm.
"W-ait. I want to wa-watch the same one as la-ast time," he said. I nodded and let him give me directions on how to work the computer. Soon enough, I had The Fault in our Stars playing on the screen. I leaned back and about halfway through the movie, I felt Griffin's head fall on my shoulder. Looking down, I saw that he'd fallen asleep already. I found myself gazing at the sleeping boy, his light brown hair shining from the light of the moon. Long eyelashes were set under his eyes and his quiet breaths were steady. I paused the movie and opened a new tab, typing a couple letters into the search bar.
I pressed the search button and immediately tons of articles and websites popped up. I spent the next hour reading through the websites, learning as much about the disease as I possibly could. I even read over the future symptoms and side affects of the disease, finding out Juvenile Huntington's Disease developed faster than adult's Huntington's Disease. I found out as much information on the sickness as possible and when I could no longer keep my eyes open, I closed the computer after deleting the tab, leaning my head against the bed's pillows. I stole one last glance at Griffin before closing my eyes, letting sleep take over.
Griffin was already awake when I opened my eyes in the morning. He was looking out of his window.
"Griffin?" I asked, he turned his head towards me, smiling.
"M-o-rnin-g..." he croaked. A doctor opened the door, shocked to see me in bed next to Griffin.
"Good morning Griffin. Time for your usual check up!" she said cheerily. Griffin smiled at her and nodded, looking like he was used to these daily check ups. I wonder just how long Griffin's been cooped up in this hospital for. Weeks, maybe? Months? Maybe even years...
"So I'm just going to ask the usual questions and then get you breakfast and do a physical," the doctor said, looking down at her clipboard. "How was last night? Did you sleep well?"
Griffin nodded and the doctor shot him a surprised look.
"You did? How many hours?" she asked. Griffin proudly smiled.
"Wh-ole n-i-ni-ght!" he said proudly. Did he usually not sleep? I guess his chorea's twitching would prevent him from falling asleep. Chorea was one of the later developed symptoms of his disease. It was uncontrolled movements, like twitching, that made you seem restless.
"Wow! Great job! Do you know why you were able to sleep more tonight than you have in the past week?" she asked. He nodded and pointed at me. I looked at him in shock. I made him sleep better?
"Really now? Well, your friend is welcome to stay over for however long he wants to if it means you sleep better," the doctor said with a smile. I felt my face grow a light pink and I looked away, hiding the blush on my cheeks.
"It seems like your talking is more cracked and slurred. Does your throat hurt in anyway?" the doctor asked next. Griffin looked thoughtful before shaking his head 'no'. The doctor smiled.
"Well that's good news. What about your body? Does it hurt anywhere? Can you still move your legs?"
"N-n-o pai-n," Griffin stuttered, moving his legs up and down.
"That's good! Let me go grab your breakfast and then we can do your physical, mkay?"
Griffin smiled and nodded while I awkwardly shifted in my spot on his bed. The doctor smiled at me.
"I'll get you some food too, is that okay?" she asked kindly. I nodded quickly. I hadn't eaten a real meal in a couple of day and I'd forgotten about being hungry when I was with Griffin yesterday. The door closed behind the doctor and Griffin and I were, yet again, left alone in the room.
"Do you usually not get much sleep? Is it because of your chorea?" I asked, turning towards Griffin. He looked at me in surprise before averting his eyes to his lap and nodding, ashamed.
"No need to be embarrassed because it. You can't help it. Hey, can you still eat food... without a tube?" I asked, hesitantly avoiding the word 'normally'. He smiled, nodding.
"That's good. I'm going to run by the grocery store today and I'll pick something up for you okay? What's your favorite food?" I asked. His dark brown hues lit up as I spoke.
"Okay, I like those too. I'll grab a pack for you okay?" I said kindly. I didn't know when it'd happened, but I'd taken a liking to this boy. It might have been his pure heart, or maybe that the stars found a home in his eyes, but I knew that I'd do anything and give anything for this boy to live. I needed him to live. He had so many more good years going for him.
"Right n-ow?" he asked. I shook my head 'no'. I was opening up more and more to Griffin each and everyday, talking more and more. That reminded me.
"Why haven't you told anybody my real name?" I asked him curiously. Griffin shrugged.
"If-if you wa-an-ted pe-peo-p-people to know, yo-u wouldn't ha-v-have tol-d me your name was Ted-d-d-dy," he said, struggling with the words. The doctor was right; his speech was becoming more slurred.
"Griffin, I have your breakfast. Oh, I forgot to ask earlier, but whats your name?" the doctor asked, coming back into Griffin's room. I stared at her, not saying anything.
"Ted-dy," Griffin answered for me. I felt bad that he had to speak for me, but I still didn't feel comfortable talking to anybody but Griffin at the moment. I couldn't trust anybody else. The doctor smiled at me, setting down two trays with a bowl of oatmeal, a cup of orange juice, and utensils on it. I nodded my head in thanks, as did Griffin, before we both dug in. I finished my meal first and the doctor took my tray away.
"You okay?" I asked Griffin who was stirring his oatmeal around. He looked up, nodded, then spooned some of the food into his mouth. I'd noticed he'd been zoning out more and more lately, something that would happen when the disease got worse. Griffin ate the last bite of his oatmeal and finished his juice off. The doctor came back and took his tray away, telling us she'd be back with things for his physical. I hadn't had a physical in years. My dad never wanted to take me.
"Okay. First, we need your height and weight, so step over here..." she said and I helped Griffin clumsily shuffle to where the height measurer was. He stood, back straight, while the doctor moved an odd plastic thing above his head.
"5"8... Thats one inch shorter than last week," the doctor murmured to herself while I looked at her, worried for Griffin. Now that I wasn't clueless on the disease, I knew Griffin was in the phase where the brain disorder started to affect his physical appearance and deteriorate his brain's nerve cells quicker than before. He was going to lose the ability to speak and walk soon.
Griffin, on the other hand, just stared at her cluelessly. Did he really not know anything about his disease other than that he was going to die? I thought he was joking. No way somebody could be that lazy not to even research about a fatal disease they had. He must have been too scared to see.
"Teddy, why don't you help him onto the weight scale next?" the doctor asked, writing something down on her clipboard. I obliged, holding Griffin up on his feet as he stumbled over to the platform. He raised his feet, stepping onto the scale and standing straight up again. His legs were shaking, but I could tell he didn't want anybody to notice. Looking over, he caught me staring at him and smiled at me. How could be so happy? Did it not hurt him? Did it not scare him? He was going to die. No; he was dying. How could he smile?
"Crap..." the doctor muttered, fidgeting with the metal slider at the top of the weight scale. "This is not good..."
Both Griffin and I looked at her, waiting for her to tell us what was wrong. Griffin looked curious while only concern was shown on my facial features. Apparently, she was going to tell us everything at the end of the physical so we could take the good with the bad. She continued with the process and checked his reflexes, his senses, and his vision.
"Okay boys. The worst news is your weight loss, Griffin. In one week, you've gone from a healthy 148 pounds to a mere 97 pounds. Your ability to walk, speak, and swallow will be reducing in the next week or so and will completely be gone after that. You'll need an oxygen mask to help you breathe when that happens. Your movements will be noticeably slower than usually. Other than that, your vision is still good. You'll still be able to get out of bed for the next couple days, too. After that, you'll need to be wheel chaired until you can't walk at all," the doctor said. It all sounded like bad news to me, but Griffin just expressionlessly nodded every once in a while.
I'd tuned the doctor out, now focused on the boy sitting next to me. He turned his head towards the window behind me, catching me staring again. This time, he wasn't the one to smile reassuringly; I was. I don't know where it came from, but I felt the need to. He shocked me by grabbing my face, holding it in his hands.
"I... um, I'll leave the two of you alone for a little okay?" the doctor said, leaving the room and closing the door behind her.
"D-do-o it ag-ag-agin!" he stuttered excitedly. My lips were slightly parted, eyes wide as his face came closer to mine.
"U-uh... what?" I asked. He didn't verbally answer, but his eyes searched mine. I had to bite back a laugh at the funny face he was making. He noticed, obviously.
"D-don't hi-ide it fr-om m-e-e!"
I smiled at him shyly and he let go of my face, staring at it in awe. His facial expressions mimicked childlike innocence. I let him watch me until I couldn't smile anymore. He smiled when I stopped, like he thought we were taking turns. I checked the time. There was still enough time for me to run to the store for Oreos.
"I'm going to run to the store now. I'll be back in a little bit, okay?" I said, standing up from Griffin's hospital bed. He nodded, looking a bit gloomy now.
"La-st ti-time- you s-aid that, y-you," he started, but I interrupted him.
"I'm so sorry, Griffin... I really meant to come back sooner. I promise that I'll be back before the sun sets, okay?" I promised, really meaning it. He smiled and nodded, watching me rush out of his room. I ran as fast I could to the nearest grocery store I could find, pulling out a crumpled ten dollar bill. The last of my money, besides some coins. I scanned the aisles until I found Oreos. Grabbing a pack and quickly making my way to the cashier, I paid and left. It was only a little over four dollars, so I still had some cash left. I sprinted all the way back to the hospital. The sun was sinking lower and lower into the ground.
"Griffin," I panted, throwing his room's door open. He looked over from the window to me, smiling.
"I s-aw y-you ru-n-n-ning..." he said, laughing breathily. I flushed pink out of embarrassment.
"I got you the Oreos," I said quietly, taking them out of the plastic bag and gingerly handing them to the boy. He smiled again, eyes lighting up.
I nodded, watching at he opened the package and took one of the cookies out. He popped it into his mouth and chewed slowly. When he'd had his share of the cookies, he set it aside and patted the spot next to him. I slithered into bed and he scooted closer.
"I w-a-anna see the s-s-st-ars with you agai-n," he whispered. I glanced at him, a smile on my face for a mere second. He cherished each smile he got, probably knowing he was never going to see another one ever again.
It's been a couple weeks and Griffin was only getting worse. He skin was ghostly pale and he wasn't able to move very much anymore. He'd lost the ability to speak a little while ago and a oxygen mask now covered his mouth and nose, allowing him to breathe. He's been sleeping okay due to the IV bag of melatonin. Unfortunately, he lost more weight and was now at a critical 83 pounds. He needed to be tube fed and he hated it. I haven't left his side for more then a couple minutes at a time and have been getting less and less sleep. I'm terrified. I feel that if I close my eyes, he'll be taken from me. I wasn't ready for that. I'd never be ready for that.
"Your hair is really soft," I whispered. I'd grown accustomed to one sided conversations and liked to talk to the pale boy to fill the silence. I've also opened up a little to some of the nurses and doctors, but the only one who knows Jericho Dostrine was alive was Griffin. More often than not, I'd find myself talking about my family. I hated making him my vent, but he seemed to enjoy the sound of my voice and the things I spoke about so I never stopped. Sometimes, I'd put quiet music on in the background and watch The Fault in our Stars with Griffin. I didn't watch it with sound, but read along with the subtitles like Griffin did. To be honest, I'd probably watched the movie enough times to memorize the script. It was our movie.
I ran my fingers through his locks of light brown hair soothingly, singing quietly.
"I know that you're bleeding but I'm barely breathing. I'd give you my life if I could. So I'll wait for you on the dark side of the highway, in the valley of the haunted."
Night was creeping onto us and, like always, Griffin and I turned our heads to watch the stars pop up in the black night sky. It had become sort of a routine for us. A doctor came into the room.
"Hey boys..." it was the same doctor from two weeks ago. She'd been very kind to me and I've talked to her on multiple occasions. I'd recently found out her name was Jackie.
"Hi," I answer softly, stopping my singing. She smiled at us. Griffin just smiled weakly and gazed at her through drooping eyelids.
"Teddy, you should really get some rest, okay? You're body is going to become weaker if you keep this up," she said in concern. I nodded, understanding her worry. I glanced at Griffin who peered up at me and nodded, agreeing with the doctor. I sighed, knowing I'd do anything Griffin asked me to do. Over the course of these past weeks, I've had plenty of time to think about everything that's happened since my birth killed my mom till now.
"Well, I'll turn the lights off for you two. Goodnight, boys," she said after a little silence. After the door closed and the lights were off, I snuggled under the covers next to Griffin, carefully avoiding the tubes connected to his arms. I held Griffin in my arms, keeping him warm and closed my eyes.
About an hour later, I woke up to Griffin poking my arm.
"Hm?" I hummed, sleepily. I heard a whine. Immediately. I sat up and looked at Griffin. He was staring at the window longingly.
"You want to go to the window?" I asked and received a slight nod. I got up from the bed and carefully pushed Griffin's hospital bed towards the window until the bed was up against the wall it was built into. I made sure the machines and IV bag were still in tact and working before climbing back into bed, sitting up. I watched Griffin shakily reach a frail hand over and unlatch the window.
It was a cold night and the chilly winds would take a big toll on Griffin, so I tugged my jacket off and wrapped it around his shoulders, pulling the thick blanket around him as well. He pushed the window open and a gust of cool wind blew into the room, causing both of us to shiver. I scooted closer to the boy as he gazed outside at the sky. I wrapped my arms around his thin waist and hugged him from the back, trying to warm him up. I wanted to close the window and tell him 'no' but I couldn't bring myself to do it. He looked so broken now. He looked like I did before I met him. I hated it so I did my best to keep his body temperature up.
He grabbed his phone off the bedside table and brought up the notes app we used to communicate.
I looked at him in concern, reaching over and closing the window until here was just barely a crack. He could still see out of the glass. Not once had he complained about pain or being uncomfortable, even if I knew he was. For him to tell me that he was hurting must mean he was in unbearable pain. He typed something else on the note pad.
[talk to me]
I smiled a little at the message and opened my mouth to talk. I decided to just speak about whatever was on my mind. Taking a deep breath, I laid us back down so we could both look outside. My voice came out in a breathy whisper.
"I miss your voice. I miss your bright eyes. I wish I never acted so cold to you. I regret not coming back earlier than a week that time. I regret leaving you for more than a second. I hate that you're in this situation. I hate that it's not me. You would have had so many more great years ahead of you. I can't believe they're going to be wasted here in this hospital. I can't believe how fast time has gone by.
"I wish it could have been me connected to those machines. I wish it could have been me losing the ability to think, to breathe on my own, to speak, to walk. I want to spend more time with you. I want to take you to a beach and look at the sky with you. I hope you don't regret any of the time we've spent together. I wouldn't give a second of our time for the world, but I wouldn't think twice before giving the world for just one more second to spend with you.
"I'm scared. I'm scared of losing you. Im scared of life without you in it. I'm grateful for you. I'm grateful you ran into my room that night. I'm grateful for all the gifts you gave me. I need to hear your breathing to fall asleep. I need your presence to feel comforted and calm. I can't sit still when you're in this bed. I can't sit still while you're fighting for your life. I can't sit still when we're running out of time," I whispered. "I love you."
That morning, at five forty-six, I woke to the horrific sound of a steady beep.
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