Sometimes, it felt like I wasn't dying at all. Instead, the entire experience felt like a dream—if not a dream that lasted three months long. The doctors informed me about my injuries; my arm was still broken and they performed surgery on my legs and ribs (apparently my right leg is slightly bionic now), but I was okay for the most part. When my mother checked me out of the hospital, I was greeted with screams and happy tears. Everyone who once ignored me, saw pass me, was suddenly my friend. Even Principal Adams flew over to my side. It was like waking up from a coma made me a hero. Lucas Friar, the outcast, was now a renowned charity case. Living in the shadows most of your life and now all the spotlights are turned at you was uncomfortable. I didn't like all the attention, the special treatment that felt too fake. At least I could depend on my friends.
A million stories were passed around at the lunch table when I finally came back to school. Zay talked about his new crush Vanessa the cheerleader, and Brandon talked about his brother's engagement. Farkle was being Farkle and talked about scientific breakthroughs and Maya wasn't being Maya and hung onto every word. They were different somehow. A few months ago, their relationship was a bit unbalanced, with Farkle giving it his all and Maya barely contributing. But now they were more genuine, more honest, and even if they debated it a bit more now, Farkle and Maya was a real couple now. Too bad it meant more PDA.
More good news was added onto my life: Mom was here to stay. Walking into my own home was now safe. My father was no longer here. He's out there; somewhere, but he won't be bothering us, my mother says. She promised to be here this time, to be my mother. She unpacked her bags and reclaimed her house; it was always hers anyways. The Friar house was now welcoming to me, like all the scars and tears etched into the walls disappeared. I could barely recognize my old house, and it wasn't a bad thing.
It's been two weeks since I woke up. Better news came along and soon enough, my spotlight at school faded away. It was kinda funny how people's attention can be caught and dragged away so easily. My arm was getting better but I still couldn't play baseball like I used to. One day, I guess. Things were looking up. There was no more fear in my life, no more pain, and it felt amazing not to wake up afraid of my own father. But it felt too good to be true, like it was going to fade away any second now. I tried to grasp onto my good luck as best as I could. There were still nightmares to remind me about my dad but the best thing about it was I could wake up, remember my horrifying dream, and then walk downstairs to see that there was no danger. It was kind of funny, too. I never wanted to let this happiness fade.
"Be careful," Riley warns me as I sit on the swing. We were celebrating all those days we missed. The swing set became Riley's special spot too.
"It's sitting, Riley," I say. "I'm not going to get hurt."
"You're still injured," she reminds me. "Remember your arm?"
I wiggle my fingers underneath the colorful cast. "I've haven't died yet."
"You almost did two weeks ago," she says.
"Why are you so worried about me?" I ask her. "I'm telling you, it wasn't your fault. It was mine."
Riley sighs and says, "It's just that, what if something like this happened again? I want to make sure you're safe."
"I can take care of myself," I reply. "I have been for the last seven years."
"You have to accept help once in a while," she says as she grabs my hand. "We just want to protect you."
"Why is it worth it to protect me?" I ask. "I'm not going to make a difference to the world."
"You made a difference in me," Riley says. "You're special to me. You are worth something to me."
"I promise to talk more this time," I say. Life gave me a second chance; I'm going to make a few changes.
"Look!" Riley gasps. "I have never seen so many fireflies."
Fireflies twinkled in the air like floating diamonds, grazing among the dandelions.
"Come on!" I yell and I dart up from my seat and catch a few. Riley follows suit but even when I'm wearing a leg brace, she was still slower than me.
Everything began to sparkle as Riley and I danced in the tall grass of the meadow. She was careful not to touch my arm as I dipped her. I nearly dropped her onto the grass.
"Please don't let go!" she squeals.
"I wasn't going to," I laugh and I pull her in for another kiss.
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