So I had a go at writing a shorty story; enjoy.
“Katie, darling, you have cancer.” It was exactly a year ago today that I was told I would only be alive for another six months. But here I am, seventeen years old and still managing to cope. Each day another piece being added to the puzzle of my life. The only thing that scares me is that I know my puzzle has one hundred pieces, and I have already pieced together ninety-nine. There are tubes attached to me everywhere and there is no escaping them. Each tube clings to me like a thirsty leach. I feel uncomfortable, but I suppose I am used to it now.
Mum walks through the doors and sits down beside my hospital bed. I am going to miss her. She is one of the most incredible women in the world and she means everything to me. After Dad walked out on her eight years ago, things have been really hard for both of us, especially this. Mum encourages me, she supports me and she is the strongest person I have ever met. I can still remember her waking up at four o’clock one morning to drive me two hours away for my Under 10s dance concert. She did my hair and makeup when we arrived and I was so excited. I told her I was starting to get nervous and she rubbed my tummy and said, “It’s okay sweetie, that means the butterflies are happy!” She kissed me on my forehead and hugged me tightly. My dance was over before I could say the word ‘ballet’. I came first and Mum treated me to ice-cream at the park nearby. I sat on the swings as she pushed me. I was swinging so high it practically felt like I was flying. Back and forth, back and forth. I remember telling her, “Stop! Too fast! The wind is going to freeze my eyeballs open forever!” I jumped off, “Mum it’s your turn!” I pushed as hard as I could and she made it barely a few centimetres off the ground. She laughed at me with her hearty, contagious laugh. I stood there staring at her and crossed my arms, furrowing my eyebrows and exaggerating a frown. Next thing I knew, we were both rolling on the ground in stitches. I miss those days when life was care-free. When school wasn’t so hectic. When I had time to partake in dancing competitions; or rather, when both Mum and Dad had time to even come and watch. Those days when Mum and Dad were happy together, completely in love. Those days when I could laugh with Mum about the silliest things. Those days when I didn’t have cancer.
I look around the room, from Mum to all the cards and gifts that have accumulated over the past year. There’s a picture frame sitting beside my bed with a photo of my best friend and I at our Year 10 formal. Emma has been there for me through everything; from breakups with boys to last minute sleepovers on school nights. We have been friends since preschool and she knows every little detail about me; we are practically related. I can remember our formal, it was the best night. We both had helped each other pick out an outfit. We took nothing short of a thousand photos before we left her house for the formal. I don’t know how we managed to pose differently in every photo, but we did. However, this picture would have to be my favourite. It was actually accidental. We put the camera on self-timer, but as we leant in to take the photo we knocked heads and began laughing. The next day as we were looking at all the pictures we took, we realised that the camera had still taken the photo while we were laughing. It was the most genuine sort of ‘happy’ I had ever seen and it beat any of the peace signs, pouts, attempted winks and assortment of other poses.
My eyes wander around, taking it all in once again. The greenish-blue hospital-coloured curtains are pulled back letting me see the breath-taking view of the beautiful garden outside. An old, tattered seat surrounded by small, prickly rose bushes overlooks a duck pond painted green by the hundreds of lily pads afloat. An elderly couple sit down and watch the ducks swim past, gracefully dunking their heads under the water and coming up at different intervals to take a breath. The man has a few slices of bread in his hand and gently rips it apart, giving them to his wife who scatters them generously on the grass in front of them. Within seconds, the elderly couple are the new popular attraction of the garden. However, the woman soon finds the twenty-odd ducks surrounding her feet and nibbling at her toes a bit too overwhelming and tries shooing them, before clinging to her husband’s arm and waddling away. Somehow, this made me smile.
I have always loved seeing elderly couples still together and so in love. After seeing my parent’s marriage crumble in front of my eyes, it makes me believe that anything is possible if you fight for it. I suppose it’s a reality check from the world today. Love is so beautiful, yet can be the cause of so much pain. If two people are so passionate about one another, then love really can last forever. Just as these thoughts flood my mind, Riley walks in. My train of thought goes completely out the window. He smiles at me; his dimples staring me right in the eyes. I am going to miss his cheeky smile, his dark brown hair and his warm eyes. He leans over and kisses me on the cheek. I can still remember the day he asked me to be his girlfriend just over two years ago at my favourite theme park. I was shaking and speechless. Not because I didn’t know what to say or because I didn’t want to be his girlfriend, but instead the fact that it was straight after we had walked off my first ever roller coaster ride. Obviously, once I caught my breath, I said yes. I guess from then on life has been a roller coaster ride in itself. Probably the longest and scariest one as well. It’s been full of ups and downs, twists, curves, spirals and times when I’ve been thrown completely upside down, but thankfully my Mum, Emma, Riley and God have all been there for me. They are the handlebars that I hold on to. I need them.
The doctor just walked in the door, a clipboard nestled under his arm and a pen in his hand. This was it, the test results were back. I hold tightly onto Riley’s hand. Was this going to be the last puzzle piece? “Mum, I’m nervous,” I whisper. I look at Mum sitting next to me. She smiles at me; her eyes full of hope, “Katie, don’t worry okay? Everything will be alright. The butterflies are always happy, remember?” I nod, wanting more than anything for her to be right. I mean, Mum’s are always right, aren’t they? I say a prayer and silently hope that the butterflies stay happy for another six months. I am not quite ready to fly away just yet.
Keep smiling. x