Chasing Sunshine

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9 - Admitting Weakness

James sat on the couch across the room as he watched her sleep on the bed of the hotel room, remembering the events that happened earlier.

After her accident, she hasn't said a word. So when her sobs subsided and she had calmed down a little, he took her to the hotel.

He didn't say much either. He was just there. He helped her to her room, prepared her bath and change of clothes, tucked her in bed and stayed when she asked him to stay.

He would know later on that by doing so, they just checked off another item in Shine’s list.

Cuddle until I fall asleep in your arms.

James was about to leave after carrying her to bed and pulling up the quilt to her shoulders when Shine held his hand and asked him to stay. He sighed and awkwardly sat beside her on the bed.

"James, lie down with me." She said quietly.

"M-miss Shine, are you sure?" He asked nervously.

His whole body stiffened as he held his breath when she laid her hand on his arm.

"Um. Lie down beside me. I just... I need someone beside me."

James nodded his head and obliged. He laid flat on the bed, facing the ceiling with his arms across his chest, keeping a respectful distance between him and Shine.

He bit his lip and closed his eyes with a breath stuck in his throat when she suddenly crawled up to his chest and leaned her cheek on it as she slipped her arm across his body.

He was overwhelmed by her sweet vanilla scent, her softness and her warmth that his arms moved in their own volition and wrapped her in a tight embrace.

She sighed contentedly and snuggled to his chest.

Finally, after a few minutes of lying in his arms, she was ready to talk.

"Thank you, James... For saving me, for helping, for staying. I know you were just doing your job but still... Thank you." She whispered.

"You're welcome, Miss Shine. And... I wasn't just doing my job, I was being your friend. The fear I felt when I turned and saw you were gone then saw you drowning was real. My concern for you when I saw you cry was real. It's not because I was scared to lose my job. That didn't even cross my mind. It was because I was really scared of losing you." James said as he unconsciously held her tighter. "I don't know what that means but I know that it's not just doing my job."

Shine felt his securing pull and she wasn't sure how to feel about it. If circumstances were different, this moment would have been perfect and James would have been the guy she would've never wanted to let go.

"But I will be gone, Mal. Slowly, gradually, piece by piece, I WILL die." She spoke casually.

"Why do you speak of dying like you're just buying candy from the store?", he asked with a slight tone of bitterness in his voice.

"Because it's a fact. There is no cure for my disease and the symptoms are irreversible."

James sighed. She was right but he still asked, "You're not scared?"

She suddenly fell silent. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before she answered, "No. I am not afraid to die or at least I wasn't or I thought I wasn't. I admit, I always believed that we should all live our lives like each day was the last and that any moment, you should be ready to leave this world. I thought I was ready but today, in the face of danger, when I almost drowned, I realized I wasn't. That I wanted to live longer and that's a scary and hopeless thought for me to have because there is no hope for me."

"That's where you're wrong, Miss Shine. Because as long as there is an ounce of breath in your body, there is hope. No matter how desperate a situation is, nobody can really tell what the end will be except for God."

"You really believe that?" She asked.

"Yes. And you know what else I believe in, Miss Shine?"

"What's that?"

"I believe in miracles."

Shine chuckled. "I wish I had your faith and optimism, Mal."

"You could. I'll make you a deal, Miss Shine. I will give you a reason to hope everyday if you promise to give me a reason to be happy each day."

"And how do I do that?"

"Just be here and smile that will make me very happy."

"Deal." She smiled. She then nuzzled on his chest and closed her eyes.

"Mal?"

"Yes, Miss Shine?"

"You're not falling in love with me, are you?"

He was stunned and his heart seemed to have skipped a few beats. It took a few seconds before he managed to answer, "No."

James closed his eyes and sighed because he knew that was not entirely true.

"Good because I would hate to fire you today." She said as he stroked her hair and held her close until she fell asleep.

/


***


The next video clip is dark and quiet with just a little light from the lampshade shedding some brightness to the video. It lasts only ten seconds.

The camera seemed to be on a moving surface, lifting up then relaxing down showing his sleeping face in a really close angle from his chin.

She then appeared from the right side of the frame and whispered in his ear. “Thank you.”

She leaned closer and kissed his cheek before the video ended.


***


"Rules for happiness: Something to do, Someone to love, Something to hope for."

-Immanuel Kant

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