He’d softly call my name and ask if I could play with him. Once I had the courage to look under the bed with a flashlight. Only the dust bunnies and missing socks greeted me, but I still heard his voice.“Missy, come to me, let’s play.” Sometimes I would answer him. “I can’t today, I’m sick.” He would grow silent but I felt sure he never left. I laugh to myself thinking back on those memories and I swear I hear the monster calling me again.
“Missy, come to me, let’s play,” he calls from his hiding place.
My muscles strain and it’s getting harder to breathe but I wheeze out, “I can’t today, I’m sick.” This time I’m startled to hear the monster laugh at me.
“Please come play,” he says.
It’s funny how I’ve never been afraid of him. I decide I should meet my mysterious monster before he stops calling or before I am unable to answer him. I ease into a sitting position and pull the covers away from my useless legs. Pushing them until my feet touch the floor, I wrap my frail arms around the bedpost and slide down. I lay there a moment catching my breath. It is cooler on the hardwood floor and it soothes my burning body. I lift my hand and tuck the bed ruffles under the mattress so I can see under the bed. Expecting to see the normal empty darkness, I’m stunned to see a pool of shimmering blue light rippling and sparkling bright. A hand extends from the center of the pool, gnarled, boney and beckoning me to come. I reach under the bed with my hand, boney and unusually gnarled for my age, the ravages of my disease evident.
“Come, Missy,” he says as he reaches toward me.
“Alright,” I manage between gasps, sliding my hand into his. Our skin touches and his old crippled hand regains its youth. My hand strengthens and I can actually take a firm grip. Light spills quickly from the pool engulfing me. The shimmering blue light is quiet, comfortable and for once I feel no pain. As the light, fades I find I am staring down at my body. I look shockingly lifeless, eyes closed, hands still, one reaching under the bed. My hair is pulled back from my face in a loose pony tail. I'm glad I didn't lose my hair. The blond curls reminded my mother of Shirley Temple. They’ve lost their luster over the years and the color has dulled, not that I’m complaining. I look much smaller than I imagined I would be. More skeletal than anything as my Hello Kitty pajamas hang loose around my frame. My face is thin, the roundness of my cheeks gone. There is a smile on my face; I look at peace.
“We don’t have much time.”
I knew I was dying. It’s weird the doctor felt the need to explain that to me. I hear him outside my bedroom talking to my mother, encouraging her to move me to a hospice. My mother refuses with hot indignation. I picture her flailing her arms and insisting I stay with the family ‘during this difficult time’. Truth is I’ve never really lived. I look around my bedroom and where most teens have a stereo, there's a monitor for all the little gizmos attached to my body. No cool friendship beads or Hawaiian leis decorate the posts of my bed, just two IV drips with drug cocktails potent enough to subdue a lumberjack. Of course it’s the drugs that make the disease bearable, not completely free from pain but the numbness helps. I hear my mother at the door again. She sneaks in silently just in case I’m asleep. I’m not.
“You’re still awake, Missy?” she asks brushing her fingertips across my brow.
“Yes Mom, I’m not really tired right now.” But I’m always tired and I sleep most of the day. I just enjoy looking out the window when the sun is bright and the clouds are scarce. I love watching the birds perch on the feeder hanging from my window. They are my entertainment, and currently there is a rose finch noshing my seeds. I can’t sleep through this.
“Do you need anything, sweetheart?”
“No, I’m fine. I know you have things to do. Don’t worry about me, Mom.” I try to sound cheerful so she won’t worry, but I know she’s in a constant state of worry. Flashing my bravest smile, I reach for her hand. I don’t wince, even though it is painful to move my stiff limbs. She holds my hand and kisses it before releasing her grip and retreating from the room. I can tell she’s going to cry again. I blow out a huge sigh.
A cool rush of air blows across my face. It feels good. The antiquated osculating fan was my idea. The ceiling fan kept me too cool but the floor fan blows air every few minutes making the air pleasant. The gust is strong enough to lift papers from the bedside table. The whoosh and crackle they produce bring back a memory, making me wince. Funny what you think of at times like this. The sound sends me back to my earlier childhood. I’m gripping the covers and stifling sobs into my pillow as I hear the other children playing outside my window, knowing I could never join them. Sometimes I would hear another sound coming from under the bed. As a child, I thought it was a monster. I was right.
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I'll continue to weigh my options until my project is complete and then I will make a decision and update this post. Feel free to voice your opinions in the comment section of the project and I will take them all into consideration.
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