I knew it was coming. I knew that sooner or later the heart-breaking letter would arrive. For a long time, I thought that maybe there was a slight chance that a miracle would happen, but that’s the thing about miracles: if they happened to everyone they would be just called luck.
My office was dimly lit. Shivers were running down my spine and, for the first time in a so long, my heart was temporarily frozen. The letter I had opened with fear and hesitation was now resting on top of the unruly mess of papers on my mahogany desk, not that I cared one bit about the organisation of my workplace, such a futile consideration was unthinkable at that time. I looked at the finely decorated walls, the worked ceiling, the expensive wooden floor: I was trying to think of anything but the tragedy I was interiorizing, though with no avail. The silence had turned into a buzzing sound of numbness, as if the room itself had gotten devastating news, too. Time seemed frozen, untouchable. It was suffocating. But the realisation that followed was even worse than the pain I was feeling, it was even worse than those words written in black ink.
How was I supposed to tell Harry his mum was going to die?
I woke up Sunday morning feeling better than ever. Memories of the last couple of days were my morning tune, making me fall instantly in a good mood. When I had the idea of surprising Summer two days before I never thought that it would have the same effect it had on her on me, and even better, a negative impact on everyone who was saying shit about us. That left me incredibly delighted. People stared at us, they pointed their finger at us, said things that weren’t necessarily true about us. They could do whatever they wanted because, at the end of the day, they were all jealous of the girl they scorned. They envied Summer, and that was the ultimate reward, the utmost revenge.
With those thoughts in the back of my mind it was much easier to walk through the corridors of Hall B. The male students still walked by me with their heads low, still with uncertainty and discomfort, but also with a kind of surprise and wonder I had never noticed. Maybe it was because of the rumours of me actually being able to give a present to someone, or maybe it was because a twinkle in my eyes and a smile couldn’t go unnoticed. Maybe it was how lightly I was walking, how peaceful and calm I was. Or maybe they were still scared of me, but since I was so happy I saw things with a different pair of eyes.
“Harry Edwards,” someone called my name. Surprised, I turned around and noticed it was a teacher who had called me. I should have guessed it because of his deep and annoying teacher-like voice. “Mr Hansen called you to his office.”
“Great!” I said with the most sarcastic tone I could muster. I rolled my eyes. What could that idiot want this time?
I left Hall B and walked briskly to the main building. Summer’s bike was parked outside next to a bunch that belonged to other students, but none of them shone like hers. I concluded that she was already inside, but I decided to go and talk to Hansen first and getting that done with before greeting her good morning.
The door of his office was slightly opened. I noticed it was not very common for him to leave the door opened, but I said nothing about it. I peeked inside and I saw him sitting at his desk with his hands supporting his head as he leaned down over the table. I announced my arrival by pushing the door open, Hansen lifted his head instantly to face me.
“Harry, sit down please,” He asked me with a severe tone, not even giving me time to close the door.
“I’m not planning on staying long,” I said, only wanting to piss him off in the morning.
“Fine, suit yourself,” He sighed and walked around his desk. I took a closer look at his facial features: he was pale, the usual paleness you have when you are sick. His hair was a mess as well as his tie which looked like it was made by a five-year-old. I knew what was coming was no good.
“Look, if you are going to reprimand me about the bicycle I gave Summer as a gift then you can go-”
“No, nothing of that,” He cut me short. I lifted my eyebrows. What the hell did he want then?
“Oh, so is it because of me missing lessons?”
He looked at me with the coldest gaze I had ever seen, making me shut up “Harry, a letter arrived for me this morning,” He reached into his pocket and unfolded the letter “It about your mother.”
“What about her, is she better?” I asked, my voice rising slightly.
“No Harry, she’s not,” Hansen said, lowering his head. His tone was filled with pity and sadness, and in that moment, a shiver ran down my spine.
Slowly he handed me the letter. His hand was shaking, an indication that he was nervous. As soon as the letter was in my hands I noticed the letter was from the hospital my mum was staying and my heart fell on the floor once I read the first few lines.
“Why the fuck are they stopping the treatment?!” I exploded, in shock at what I was reading “This can’t be right, this can’t be right...”
“The treatment is not working anymore Harry,” He said calmly.
“But she’s been there for two years, how is it possible that it isn’t working? Shouldn’t she be at least a little better now?!”
“You knew there was one in a million chances of her getting better-”
“No! I won’t accept this!” I shouted, a painful lump already forming in my throat. This was not happening.
“Even the best treatments sometimes don’t work,” Hansen tried to calm me down by placing his hands on my shoulders, but it only made me angrier. I pushed him off, rage taking over me.
“Pay them more, pay them all the money they want! They can’t stop the treatment. I won’t allow it!”
“Harry, can’t you understand that there is nothing we can do? If that treatment didn’t work, nothing will! Nothing is going to make her better!”
“So you sent her to Germany, away from me, for nothing?!” I was too much in shock. I was in no way possible ready to hear the words he was saying. The tears were already streaming down my face, there was no point in acting strong.
“It wasn’t for nothing, we at least tried...”
“Trying is not enough!” I shouted again, slamming my hand on the wall.
There was a pause, and then I continued.
“And now what?” I asked, although I had a feeling deep inside of what his next words were going to be “What is going to happen?”
“Your mum is going to die Harry,” Hansen announced. And with that the world stopped. Everything stopped. My heart stopped.
“No...” I whispered like a small, pathetic child who was seeing his favourite toy being dumped in the trash.
“I swear that if I could do something about it, anything, I wouldn’t hesitate,” Hansen said, but I was in such shock that his words were turned into fragments of particles floating in the air.
Those words, your mum is going to die, felt like all the goodbyes that had ever been said in the entire history of the world were being said to me all at once with no warning sign, a destructive wave of sorrow that was drowning me. It felt as if I was being locked up in a dark dungeon for the rest of eternity. It felt like all the sadness that had been accumulating in people’s hearts for all the years mankind has existed on earth was being poured into me.
I was so mad at myself for not insisting more on going with her, but she swore to me that she would get better soon. She swore that she would come back and take us home. She swore that when she came back to England we would go to our favourite restaurant to celebrate. She swore she would come back to me.
“How- how much time does she have?” I managed to ask.
“To be honest I don’t know. It doesn’t say anything in the letter. I should probably write to them to find out.”
“Why don’t you write to her instead? Are you afraid that you will finally start caring for her once you read her last words?” I provoked. I couldn’t fight against it, sadness made me cruel. “Admit it, if you really wanted to help her you would have your ass in Germany. At least that is where I’m going.”
“Harry, she doesn’t want you to-”
I shot him the darkest look “Are you seriously considering such thing at a time like this?!” I took a deep breath, the air seeming non-existent “I hope you end up alone because I am the last person you have and I’m leaving! Goodbye.”
With that I stormed out of his office after throwing the damned letter on the floor in an act of fury. After slamming the door, I made my way out of the main building. I had no idea how I even managed to find my way out of the edifice since I was completely blind with anger, but I do remember the sun on my face and the cold brisk breeze of the morning hitting me. That was how I knew I made it outside.
I had completely forgotten Summer was probably waiting for me and the few people around me who were watching me cry. The only thing on my mind was my sick mother lying in a hospital bed, alone, sucking in her last breath and never seeing me again.
I was going to leave, there was no doubt, but I couldn’t just go like that. I had to prepare to leave, I had to make sure I had everything I needed to go to Germany. I went to my room to plan my escape. I would leave as fast as possible, which realistically would be the next morning. I wouldn’t give Hansen time to stop me. I was going to Germany no matter what it took.
There was something, however, that was nagging me, something in the back of mind that had never existed. It was telling me that leaving wasn’t the utmost correct thing to do. For two whole years I had never had such a strong reason to leave than I had at that very moment, and my chance to leave was palpable, I was literally touching it with the tip of my fingers, but there was something holding me back, something that made me have less confidence in my departure, something that wasn’t letting me grab the opportunity with both hands.
Once I realised what it was I felt like God was stabbing me in the back. It was not enough to take my mum away from me, he also wanted me to leave Summer behind without her knowing why on earth I had left.
I invaded my room like a gladiator. Before I knew it the destruction around me was overwhelming. Everything that used to be on my desk was scattered over the floor, the few chairs had been toppled over, some glasses were shattered. I was a tornado, a natural disaster. I destroyed everything. Everything was destroyed.
The chaos and destruction around me was exactly, if not precisely, a reflection of what I was feeling. I knew that I had to calm down, but my body needed something to discharge the energy, fury and utter brokenness on. In my head it made sense: either objects or people.
I pulled at the roots of my hair and groaned in frustration. I leaned against the wardrobe in defeat, closed my eyes shut and tried to breathe. I was not going to feel sorry for myself, I was not. It was something I had done from the very start of my stay at Hudson, and where had it taken me?
But it was so incredibly hard to do so because I was in so much pain and I didn’t want to feel that torturous feeling anymore. I felt sorry for myself because I had to make an impossible: choose between my dying mum or staying at Hudson with Summer, protecting her from the fucking idiots that looked at her as if she was a circus animal or belonged in a freak show. I was sorry for myself because deep down I believed I did not deserve to make such choice.
How was I supposed to decide between the two things I wanted most?