The rain is pouring down heavily, pattering angrily against the tin roof; an irritating pat pat pat that seems to drill minute holes in my head. Though most people hate the rain, I have always welcomed it gladly, not regarding the fact that the sound of each drop against the tin sometimes feel like it could drive me off my sanity. On days like this, I feel as if the world is giving me a long, cold, and comfortable hug, and that when I strain my ears hard enough, I can almost hear the winds laughing lightly as it whips against me. I don’t know why but everything seems a lot better when it’s raining, as if the rain is bringing a veil of peace along with it.
Looking across the road, I can almost not make up Reese’s father’s hand as it reaches out toward Mrs. Reese. I have long figured that on cold days like this, Mr. and Mrs. Reese are a lot sweeter, never a minute going without them exchanging a brief, meaningful touch. On days like this, it is easier to imagine that everything can go well; that Mr. and Mrs. Reese never lost a child; that the Claytons' talk in a gentler manner; and that downstairs, my mother is humming softly to herself as she cooks for my father who will soon come home with a bouquet of tulips for her, much like the way they were on their last anniversary.
Closing the window, I sigh deeply as Mr. and Mrs. Reese kissed, as John Clayton crossed the street in his overalls toward the Baker Street, and as I realize that no matter how perfect everything is at the moment, my life will never be.
“Sid?” My mom peeks through my door and when she sees the tears rolling down my cheeks, she enters and sits beside me.
“What’s the problem, honey?” she asks gently and I hug her tightly.
“Nothing mom,” I managed to whisper as she runs her hand through my hair, comforting me. Why, in the thousands and millions of people in this world, do I have to be the one to experience this?
I continue to question my existence, my unhappiness; I continue to ask God everything and then suddenly a hysterical sob escapes through my lips. I hug my mom tighter, trying to strangle the overpowering urge to break down and cry my heart out. Why does it have to be me? Why does it have to be me?
“Mom…” I wail. “Mom, I’m so sorry.”
“I’m so sorry… I’m so sorry…” I cry harder, clutching her tighter as I apologize for something she absolutely have no idea of but as if realizing the severity of the reason behind my tears, she hugged me tighter, her voice quailing as she reassured me.
“Honey, it’s alright… It will all be alright… You’ll be alright…” she shushed me. For a moment, I believed her. I want to believe her. But the envelope on my pocket suddenly seems heavier, burning against the fabric of my pocket to my skin. I fished it out, handing it gingerly to her.
Wiping the few tears that escaped her control, she reaches out for the letter and as everything become clearer to her, she break down in a heart-breaking cry.
“My baby… Oh my baby…My baby girl…” she cries as she clutch me tighter, and I cry, and the heaven cries with us.
A brain tumor grew in my head, and in less than a year, I will be nothing but a voice amongst the other voices in the wind.
“Honey, are you sure you’ll be fine?” Mom asks for the nth time and I answer her with a patient smile.
“Mom, I’ll be fine. It’s alright. I’m all good,” I answer her, reassuring her although the concern on her eyes did not even tone down a little.
It’s been a week since I gave her the envelope containing my laboratory result and diagnosis on it and I can still clearly remember my mom begging God to let it all be a mistake. But it isn't a mistake, and at night when I lay on my bed, I can almost feel the tumor inside my head, as if beating with its own heart, waiting to rear its ugly face in me.
I want to believe that I am one of those brave, strong girls who, despite how morbid their illnesses are, still continue their life like nothing is wrong but I am not.
On that past week I spent pretending I have nothing wrong, continuing my life as if the envelope I brought home contained nothing but a friendly letter from someone, I felt worse than if I told my adviser my status and listened to her pity. As if the hours I spent pretending I have nothing wrong were being paid back at night, when I am alone and I lay myself on my bed; the energy I spent pretending in the day were seeping away from my body in double amount, consuming my tired muscles, leaving me beat and weak.
Because of the awful feeling I have in pretending, I decided to quit school today and decided not to let my friends know what I am going through, what I have. I’m guessing they’d all wail and break down and hug me and say pitiful things at me when they learn of my condition and I don’t want to deal with those just yet. If only for a little time, I want to spend some of my remaining days living as if nothing’s wrong, as if I’m merely taking an extended vacation from school while everyone got back already.
Entering the dean’s office, I immediately know Mr. Varner already knew of my illness since he immediately stood up and rushed to me, seeming to assist me. I wonder if I look sicker now. Or again, maybe knowing something affects your perception of things too.
“Um, sir,” I started and he seems to shift in his chair infinitesimally. “I’d like to drop out of school now,” I said after a moment and he nods knowingly. He nodded so much that I don’t know whether he’s doing it on purpose or if he’s contemplating so much on what to tell me that he absentmindedly nods his head. After a long while, and as I grow more awkward looking at him nod his head off, he stop nodding and clears his throat.
“Child, how are you?” He asks, and I roll my eyes in my thoughts. I knew they’d all react like this and even if I know already that they’re doing whatever they do out of goodwill, I can’t help but be exasperated. All the attention is making me tired and somehow, their reactions make it all a lot worse. Their nodding and sympathy and kind words, although I know it’s their human instinct that make them unconsciously react in that way, still irks me. It’s pretentious and stupid and it adds to the millions of hateful things I am angry with but I cannot tell them outright that it’s frustrating looking and listening to them like that because I know it will only make me more pathetic to them, and elicit more fake sympathy from them. Clearing my head of unkind thoughts by thinking that I might be thinking and reacting the same way if it isn't me who’s suffering from this, I struggle to place a kind smile in my face.
“I’m alright, Mr. Varner, thank you. It will probably be months before I show any kind of manifestation,” I answered and he starts nodding his head off again. I wait another good two minutes before Mr. Varner recovers from his nodding his head, clearing his throat again.
“What do you want to do with your peers then, child? Do you want us to hold some assembly for you to announce your,” he clears his throat, “farewell?”
“Oh no sir, thank you,” I answer in a hurry, not wanting him to get far from that thought and start planning what else in his head, although I have half a mind that he has already thought of the things he wants to say in his nodding time. “I will tell them when I am ready to tell them the truth sir, if you understand,” I added.
“Oh, I understand child. I understand, alright,” he said, his face somewhat registering some look of hurt, as if my answer gives him some unknown pain. I pretend I do not recognize what I can barely see in his face, and he starts fumbling for some papers in his desk then.
“Well then child, I do not know what to tell you now,” he admits and I smiled at him. Finally! An admission that they really don’t know what I’m feeling!
“It’s okay sir,” I said in sympathy. The poor man… “If you will excuse me sir, I’d like to go and tell my friends I’m dropping out already,” I added and he starts nodding again, bidding me goodbye as I turn in my heels and walk out of his office.
By the time I arrive at our house, I am already exhausted. Everyone bugged me, asking me why I would drop out of school when we’re already on our third year. I only told them it will only be for a while, that I will have to sort something that requires my whole time and then be back again next year. Of course it was an awful lie but no one knew better except me, and I only wish they’ll forgive me when they find out the truth someday. I know it’s selfish of me to not tell them the truth but I have to attend to myself first, don’t I? If I see them on the streets and see their eyes brimming with sympathy, I don’t think I can handle it.
Plopping down on my bed, I lay still, basking in the silence and peacefulness of my room after a very busy day, beginning to contemplate Elise’s reaction the whole time I was saying goodbye. Somehow, I think she knows about the real reason already, although her casual evasion from my questioning looks suggests other things. Have I hurt her because I didn't tell her about this first? I lay still for a long while, turning things in my head as I debate whether to tell my best friend the truth already or not when I unconsciously drifted off to a peaceful dream.