Death straps me to the hospital bed, claws its way onto my chest and sits there. I didn’t know it would hurt this much. I didn’t know that everything good that’s ever happened in my life would be emptied out by it.
it’s happening now and it’s really, really true and however much they all promise to remember me it doesn’t even matter if they do or not because I won’t even know about it because I’ll be gone
A dark hole opens up in the corner of the room and fills with mist, like material rippling through trees.
I hear myself moaning from a distance. I don’t want to listen. I catch the weight of glances. Nurse to doctor, doctor to Dad. Their hushed voices. Panic spills from Dad’s throat.
Not yet. Not yet.
I keep thinking about blossom. White blossom from a spinning blue sky. How small humans are, how vulnerable compared to rock, stars.
Cal comes. I remember him. I want to tell him not to be scared. I want him to talk in his normal voice and tell me something funny. But he stands next to Dad, quiet and small, and whispers, ‘What’s wrong with her?’
‘She’s got an infection.’
‘Will she die?’
‘They’ve given her antibiotics.’
‘So she’ll get better?’
This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. Not sudden, like being hit by a car. Not this strange heat, this feeling of massive bruising deep inside. Leukaemia is a progressive disease. I’m supposed to get weaker and weaker until I don’t care any more.
But I still care. When am I going to stop caring?
I try to think of simple things – boiled potatoes, milk. But scary things come into my mind instead – empty trees, plates of dust. The bleached angle of a jaw bone.
I want to tell Dad how frightened I am, but speaking is like climbing up from a vat of oil. My words come from somewhere dark and slippery.
‘Don’t let me fall.’
‘I’ve got you.’
‘I’m here. I’ve got you.’
But his eyes are scared and his face is slack, like he’s a hundred years old.