Petals

I had no idea what to say. I still don’t have any idea about anything. She was expecting an answer that I could not give her.

All I could manage to do was look down and avoid her eyes. I haven’t known her for more than ten minutes, and I feel like I’ve already let her down.

Let’s go for a walk. She said, turning away, taking my hand, and walking from where we came. I didn’t know what else to do but follow her. The blind leading the blind. I didn’t care if she knew where she was going or not. At least I had someone to follow.

Hannah had a certain presence about her. She was younger than me, and I probably knew more than her on any scholastic subject because of my age and years of schooling, but I trusted her more than myself. She seemed to know what she was doing. Even though she was dead like me, she felt more alive. And when I thought of her more, I got a lump in my throat wondering why she died. Hannah seemed like such a good kid, she came and sat by me, and complimented me. Not many kids do that to strangers. Dead or alive. But for some reason, it half felt as if this was not a coincidence, but rather she was meant to come find me. I seemed more in luck than I should be for the time being.

My new friend walked quietly down the hospital hallway, going through some corridors. I didn’t pay attention to anyone walking past us. But I caught sight of a waiting room and gulped. There were children crying and a woman trying to comfort them. And a man coughing violently into a handkerchief. I shuttered.

When we finally reached an exit out the front doors, I felt instant relief. I let out a long breath that I had been keeping inside. Out on the sidewalk, we were free. No more hospital beds, no more needles and IVs. It was surprisingly comfortable.

Does this help? Hannah spoke up to me, looking out in the distance.

Yes, thanks.

Hannah let go of my hand and walked ahead, down the sidewalk alongside the hospital. I took my time to catch up with her.

When she let go, the heat left my hand. I was disconnected. The feeling of Marc’s lips tingled in my memory. It hurt a little bit. I took another deep breath and continued along the path.

I remembered how it felt to be outside. The breeze on your face, the sun shining in your eyes. I saw a sunrise before me, above the trees. It had the orange and yellow beauty that I had witnessed only a short time before. The clouds were dispersed now, allowing the sun to reclaim the sky for the morning. Fog was clinging close to the ground and the streets, where it encircled anything in its reach. Hannah disappeared inside it. The rain had gone away.

I’ve never really taken much time to look at how beautiful the sky was. When you live your life, you don’t really stop to think that maybe it will be your last day to look at it. You take beauty of the world for granted. Those rainbows you marvel at one day won’t be remembered a few years from then. It’s only when you stop a second to look at things, that you can really appreciate them. I guess it took death to make me stop and look. I will miss those sunsets. I can still see them, but they don’t seem the same. The sunlight, like everything else in the atmosphere around me, is cold. It has no meaning to it, its just there, as if it was enclosed in a glass case where I was unable to touch it.

I hated that.

The sparkling dew on the grass below reminded me of tears. I tried to cry again, but I couldn’t.

A few brown crumbled leaves had rested on the pathway in front of me. As another chance to try to prove to myself that I was alive and just dreaming all this, I reached down to pick them up. They did not move at all. They just stood there. My fingers passed right through. I tried to crumble them in my fist, and nothing. I didn’t mean anything to this world anymore. Not even leaves could touch me.

I really wanted to touch something. Anything.

On an average day, people touch hundreds of things. Paper, the kitchen counter, napkins, buttons, keyboard keys. I can’t touch anything. Not to sound selfish or anything, but I want a refund. Take this surreal life, this half world, take it back, I don’t want it. This isn’t true, this is just fake.

I stepped on what I guess was a sidewalk, and tried to find Hannah. I couldn’t afford to lose her now.

Hannah? I called out to her, trying to see through the fog.

I’m here. She replied, so quiet that I could barely hear. I kept walking forward and caught sight of her. She was sitting down on the edge of the sidewalk, facing the street. I sat down next to her.

Are you okay? I asked her. What a stupid question to ask. Of course she’s not okay. I mean-

Are you thinking too? She smiled. She reminded me of Marc and how much he would smile. But my heart ached whenever she did. I’ve seen sad smiles before, but not as sad as hers. When Hannah smiled, I felt a punch to my stomach that almost made me double over in hurt. It hurt me to see her so sad behind her girlish appearance. If I knew anything, it would be that Hannah did not deserve to die.

Yeah. I kept forgetting that we are going through the same thing.

She’s still so young, but she seems calm. More so than me. Maybe she hasn’t completely wrapped her head around her fate. Maybe she still doesn’t know what she is going to do now. But maybe she was just as scared as me, if not more. She smiles, but it obviously is not what she really feels. Maybe she smiled for me, to make me feel better, or to try to help herself from being sad. I wish I could smile for her too. But smiling will not help us from facing our fates.

I felt the need to help her like she’s helped me.

Have you ever been to St. Lucy’s?
I asked after a few minutes of trying to gain some confidence to speak. She looked at me with questionable eyes.

My uncle took me to this park once. Its really pretty. Maybe you would like it. Can I show you? St. Lucy’s Lake was a few streets down the road from the hospital. I don’t know what help it would be to take her to a park, but it had to be better than staying here.

Hannah nodded. I took a deep breath, stood up, and this time, I took her hand.

She saved my life today. If it wasn’t for her, I probably would have been still sitting in the hospital, waiting forever. She gave me a reason to get up and so something. I’m thankful for that.

St. Lucy’s was a park located at the city’s center. It was just a lake and some trees, nothing special. I’ve only been there once. Uncle Henry took me while my aunt was getting surgery, and he  took me here when I was little while he waited to see her. I barely remember what it was like.

But when I saw it, it was exactly how I pictured it. The nostalgia burned like a fire inside me.

I do like it.

Hannah headed straight to the lake. She bent down near the water’s edge and I watched her play with the water. I sat down in the grass and laid down, staring up at the rays of sun trickling through the high treetops. I sighed. I closed my eyes and thought of...everything.

Everything I could remember and imagine in this mind of mine. Things were starting to become more clear. I thought of Uncle Henry and Aunt Patricia. Marc. Mom and Dad. All the old friends from high school. The people I saw in the pizza restaurant. Waking up yesterday. How cold it was. The songs in the car.

Music. I missed hearing music. I could recall the song I listened to this morning and almost laughed at the irony. “Stairway to Heaven” seemed suitable for the situation I was in, but I didn’t want to believe this was it.

Food. Playing hockey. Sailing. I can’t do anything like that anymore.

For some reason, I dwelt on my parents. I can not remember my mother’s face. She died when I was very small. I’ve seen pictures of her, but its not the same to me. My uncle told me she passed after I was born from breast cancer. Since I didn’t grow up with her around, I never really have missed her. But my father, I can remember better. I can see his beard, his eyes, his hair. I can see his face when I close my eyes. He was around, but not much more than my mother. He also passed shortly after her, and I never knew what caused that. My aunt liked to believe it was from heart break.

The swelling in my chest came back with much more force. It took a moment to catch my breath before I tried to think of something else.

I was painting a picture in my mind. A large field of green. Yellow flowers dotted everywhere. Miles and miles of flowers. I focused on that image. I wish I could be there. The sun is warm and the grass is cool on my skin. I can feel goosebumps all over my arms. The grass is wet on my legs. My hair is being whipped in the wind. The sun is shining through my eyelids, but it feels nice. Comfortable.

I opened my eyes slowly as I felt something tickle my ear. I saw tiny yellow flowers falling down from the trees. They drifted down in the wind, twirling and flitting in a dance. As one landed on my face, I could feel it on my cheek. When I breathed out, it fell off. I extended my arm out above me to try to catch them.

Natalie.

The sun is dimming, the sky is getting darker, blacker. I now only see black with my eyes shut. The grass becomes damper and the wind dies down around me. It’s now cold. I start to shiver.

Natalie?

I sat up. The yellow flowers all around me disappeared.

Don’t you know him?

I looked over at Hannah, who was pointing in the direction behind me. I followed her gaze toward the street, past the park.

I swallowed hard. Yes, I did. At one time.

I ran as fast as my legs would carry me.

He was walking away from me, but he wasn’t far. I could catch up. He was moving farther and farther away.

Marc stopped. I think he heard me coming. I hurried to him, until I was standing directly in front of him. My heart swelled until I thought it would explode. I waited silently, just looking at him, from head to toe, so happy to see him.

He wasn’t too happy to see me. My fiancé was downcast, staring off into the distance past me. His eyes were wet. I reached up to wipe them, but he didn’t let me. Instead, he walked right through me.

I stood there motionless, trying to understand what just happened. Then I fell to my knees and finally, finally, I was able to cry.

The End

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