Fade

Fade

A Story by Lucy Morningstar ♥
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Another story based on a dream; I guess it would be considered 'sick lit'. Please read the author's note when you're done. Enjoy :)

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In the 19 years that I’d been alive, I spent a lot of time thinking about death. It’s really morbid, I know, but it’s something that I’ve always wondered about. Where we go, what happens to us and the people we leave behind, if I will be remembered, these are all things going through my head on a constant basis. The Christmas of my 10th year, I spent a lot of the day quite depressed because I had started thinking about how I could die at any moment and that I might actually just drop right then and there and that would be it. I thought about myself lying there in some sort of fancy outfit that my parents would have had to pick out for me, cold and unthinking, and about the people who would undoubtedly crowd around my small wooden box before it was put in the ground and covered in dirt. I thought about if I would end up in heaven or hell, or if I would just be gone, like a candle that had just been blown out. Would it hurt? Would I know? What would happen to my parents and friends when I was gone?


As I grew older, I stopped considering heaven and hell as part of the equation. I guess I became sort of jaded in the sense that the idea of an afterlife just sort of became irrelevant. As I stopped believing in God, I stopped believing that there would be anything after I died because it had been instilled in my mind since I was little, that heaven was intrinsically connected with God because of what I’d been taught at school. I came to believe that the second I bit it, I wouldn’t see anyone I cared about again and I would just be gone. I was just going to fade into the universe the minute I shut my eyes for that final time, and surprisingly, I was ok with that. I mean, I was scared to be sure, but I had resigned myself to that fact.


As I sat in Dr. Pitt’s office that day just 2 months from my 20th birthday, I recalled all of these thoughts as he went on about what the next step was in treating this cancer I apparently had. Stage 4, as he said, was incurable, and was pretty much a death sentence, but that didn’t bother me. Cancer had always been a very real possibility for me, and also happened to be one of my biggest fears. I had seen firsthand what stage 4 breast cancer had done to someone, and it was not pretty.


“Miss MacDonald, did you hear what I said?” Dr. Pitt waved his hand in front of my face and immediately snapped me out of my apparently catatonic state.


“Yeah, I understand, it’s in my lungs and heart too, next step being chemo, radiation, blah blah blah. I don’t want it,” I said.


“I’m sorry?”


“Do I need to repeat myself? I don’t want it.”


“Miss MacDonald, do you realize that these treatments could help prolong your life?”


“They prolong the suffering at that point, Dr. Pitt. I’ve seen it, I mean, I know my Gramma didn’t regret it, but I don’t want to end up hooked up to a lot of machines and dying in a hospital. How long have I got without the treatment?”


“Without? A few months, maybe a year.”


“That’s fine with me.”


“Miss MacDonald…”


“Nothing is going to change the fact that I’m dying, Doctor. The only thing it’ll change is when, and I’d rather have a few infinities within a numbered days than waste my remaining time on this earth with poison dripping or radiating into my system.”


“You’re only 19…”


“Yeah, and you’re only 55, what’s your point?”


“You could do so much more.”


“I could waste more time, but these numbered days give me more of a chance to live.”


“In a weird way, I get it. Well, we’ll get you back in for a check-up every couple of weeks and see how you are doing, ok? I want you to come in again tomorrow if possible and we’ll get you set up with an oxygen tank and just talk about other options.”


“Gotcha,” I got up, shook Dr. Pitt’s hand, and walked out of his office with my jacket slung over my arm.  The sun was shining, I was dying, and I was going to go enjoy the outdoors for the first time in a long time, even if it wasn’t going to last all day.


I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about telling people; everyone was so busy and I couldn’t very well make everyone get out of work to come visit and get the news. As much as I hated the idea, I might have to tell them over the phone or computer or something, though I was going to try and get to the most important ones in person. Luckily, I was meeting Toby later that day and would have the chance to tell him then, even if it might ruin the day.


My phone buzzed in my pocket, signalling a text message and I eagerly took it out, telling Toby that I would be in town in just over an hour; Dr. Pitt’s office wasn’t too far from the bus stop, so I ran, forgetting for the moment about the cancer colony situated deep within my lungs that made it very hard to breathe. Soon I was on one of those fancy double decker buses and on my way.


The ride to my adopted home town (or I say adopted because it is where I had and have felt most at home, like it has contributed the most to who I am as a person) was quite beautiful; it was mostly through countryside, passing by a few farms and some patches of trees as well. I had never really taken the time to just look at the world as we passed it by and appreciate it for what it was. Canada is an extremely beautiful country, and I found myself quite thankful to live there, especially now, or rather, more than I had before.


Toby was waiting when I got off the bus under the bike shelter, his little green car parked nearby where it always was, or where he usually parked in this parking lot. His red hair was windswept and a bit tousled as it usually was, which made me smile; apparently nothing would tame the beast that was Toby’s hair. I was really going to miss that if I was even able to miss anything at all.


“Hey Luce,” he said, opening his arms for a hug, which I gladly accepted. My chest began to hurt a bit with the intensity of the hug, but I didn’t let on too much.


“Fancy seeing you here,” I said as he smiled, “Hey, can we go to the garden? It’s so nice out today, I don’t really feel like sitting in a movie theatre and wasting the sun.”


“Luce, you’re going to burn like a lobster if you sit in the sun too long.”


“I don’t particularly care.”


“Okay then…” We got in the car and took the incredibly short drive to the garden at City Hall; it’s walls were covered in ivy and everywhere that surrounded the small grassy meadow in the centre was blanketed by flowers of varying colors. I fondly remembered the last time we had been here before shaking the thoughts from my head and laying down in the grass.


“Gosh, remember last time we were here?” I said, trying to shield my eyes from the sun.


“Hehe yeah,” Toby laid down in the grass beside me and threw his arms over his eyes; I guess he’d forgotten his sunglasses like I had. I kind of sideways glanced at him; he had the biggest, goofiest smile on his face, you know, the kind that just made you smile.


“Toby, I have to talk to you about something.”


“Sure Luce, shoot.”


“Oh god, I don’t know how to tell you this,”  I could feel tears beginning to form in the corners of my eyes as I spoke.


“Luce, what’s going on?” Toby must have sensed that I was crying, and after I had managed to wipe the tears away, I sat up and grabbed for one of his hands, something I had not done in a while.


“I went to the Doctor’s today, Toby. It wasn’t good.”


“Luce, you’re scaring me…”


“I’ve got breast cancer, stage 4; it’s in my heart and lungs as well.” The silence that followed was the kind that usually came before the storm, before thunder and lightning ripped through the sky like the unstoppable force that they were, much like the cancer that was now making its way through my body until, it seemed, it would strike me down where I stood.  I couldn’t look at Toby directly, I didn’t want to see the look on his face or the way that I am sure he was looking at me; I buried my face between my knees as I often did when I was trying hard not to cry, but nothing was working this time.


“How long?” he asked, but I didn’t look at him.


“A couple months, maybe a year if I’m lucky,” I said. I could feel Toby’s eyes watching me; before long, I could feel his arm around my shoulder and his head resting gently on my own, and I began to sob.


One of my favorite novels, a book by John Green called The Fault in our Stars, talks about how some infinities are bigger than other infinities, and that’s all part of Hazel and Gus’ love story; they had such a small amount of time together but it was enough for them, even though they would have liked more time, they made the most of what they had because for them, each little moment was an infinity bigger than the last. This moment, right here, with Toby’s arm around my shoulders and head resting against mine as he had done so many times before, both of us in total silence, this felt like a little infinity of our own, even if it was not so great an infinity as those described in John Green’s book. In fact, it was quite the opposite. But I was, in that moment incredibly thankful for whatever little infinities that I had left with Toby, and God knows I wouldn’t have many of them.


“Who knows, maybe it’ll take longer than that. I mean, you’re getting chemo and stuff right?” he said as I turned my head so I could look at him. His eyes were welling up, but I doubt he would cry in front of me; I’d only seen him tear up a handful of times before, and it was a rare thing indeed.


“I told them to shove it when they suggested that. I don’t want to spend the rest of my days being poisoned when it’s all going to have the same outcome,” I said, wiping my eyes with some fabric from the dress I was wearing.


“So you’re giving up?”


“No, I’m winning the war. I’ll die how I choose, and I’d rather not be miserable and sick for whatever time I have left, you know? There’s no sense in prolonging the inevitable.”


“But if it’ll give you more time…”


“No. The thing about time is that the more of it that you have, the more it tends to be wasted. I don’t want more time to waste; I want to live now, and live as much as I can for as long as I have left.”


“No, no dead, dead isn’t allowed. I won’t let you.”

 

“This time you don’t have a choice,” I laughed and buried my face in his shoulder before standing up, “Enough of sad things, there will be time for that later. Let’s go and do something fun.” I grabbed his hands and pulled him up; we spent the rest of the day walking around, stopping for frozen yogurt and playing at the park. Despite how it had started, I could not have asked for a better day. 


       ~  


The next few days were quite busy; on top of having to learn all about oxygen tanks and how to switch them out, I had the unfortunate task of telling the people I cared about that I wasn’t much longer for the world. My parents had reacted as expected; there were tears, questions, even some shouting, but they eventually conceded that it was indeed my choice about whether or not I was going to undergo treatment.


I had asked my friends Charlie, Luke, Jack, and Kelly if we could all meet up so I could give them the news, and asked Toby to come with me; we had to wait until a week after my initial diagnosis to tell them because of work schedules and family things, but I didn’t mind waiting a while. It was going to be hard enough as it is, and while waiting sucked, I was glad I’d have more time to prepare.


Their reaction had been similar to that of my parents, but with a bit less shouting. I was really thankful for the fact that my friends had learned not to argue too much with me; I was too much of a stubborn mule for that. It wasn’t even a very long conversation, I mean I had pretty much just given them the news before we had gone back to doing what we always did when we all hung out together. I was so insanely glad to have Toby there though; even though the conversation had been short, the amount of hurt in their eyes and the questions they had would have absolutely done me in. It was very comforting and reassuring, knowing that I would be able to hold his hand when I needed to, and I had certainly needed to.


     ~


“Breathe out for me, Miss MacDonald,” Dr. Pitt asked after having removed the nasal cannula that had been helping me to breathe for the last three months. Toby sat on one side of me while my mom sat on the other, Toby holding my hand reassuringly while my mom rubbed my back, “Ms. MacDonald, it’s actually harder for me to hear Lucy’s breathing with you doing that. If you could give me one second, that would be great.” She took her hand from my back and held the hand that Toby was not holding while Dr. Pitt finished the exam.


“How’s she sound?” Toby asked, squeezing my hand.


“Her breathing sounds a bit labored, but that’s what the oxygen is for. We’re going to get her booked in for a PET scan within the next few days just to see if the cancer has spread any further, which I am sure it has, but there’s a small chance she’s holding her own against it, despite the lack of treatment,” Dr. Pitt said, handing me back the cannula so I could breathe properly again; I took as deep a breath as I could and smiled, hopping down from the table and nodding at Dr. Pitt as my mom stopped to talk to him, leaving me and Toby to exit the room.


“Need help with the tank?” he asked, smiling.


“It’s got wheels Toby, I think I’ll manage,” I laughed; we walked into the waiting room and sat down,“What do you think they’re talking about in there?”


“Hmm…maybe about how dumb you are.”


“Ouch, my feels.”


“I kid, I kid. Honestly, I don’t know; given your situation it could be a bunch of things.”


“Have I told you lately how awesome you are?”


“It’s nothing Luce, really.”


“But you don’t have to be here, and yet you’re choosing to. I don’t get it.”


“Do you really not know?”


“I can never tell with you, Toby...”


“Oh Luce…” Toby leaned forward and kissed my forehead just like he used to, and I knew. I started to cry then, thinking about how yet another person would be left in the wake of my storm, even though I kind of knew he would have been anyways. He put his arm around me, and I leaned in.


“This isn’t a cancer perk right?” I said, and he laughed. I tilted my head to just the right angle and kissed him lightly before my mom came out with Dr. Pitt.


“Dr. Pitt and I were talking, and he thinks it would be beneficial for us to get you a BIPAP machine. With your breathing getting a bit worse, it just might make things more comfortable for you when you are asleep,” Mom said, looking at Dr. Pitt.


“More equipment? Really?” I said.


“Lucy, you only have the oxygen tanks right now,” Mom said.


“Yeah, and my room is tiny. How big is this machine going to be?” I asked.


“I’ll be switching rooms with you, I mean, the machine isn’t that big but you need more room to move around,” Mom said before she too shook hands with Dr. Pitt and we actually left the building. I sat in the back of the car with Toby, resting my head on his shoulder and holding his hand while Mom talked about the details of the BIPAP, but all I could think about was who was sitting next to me, and how incredibly happy I was to have him here with me, even if it wasn’t going to last. 


        ~


“I want to go on an adventure,” I said, spooning some frozen yogurt into my mouth as we sat in the garden by city hall. Toby had already finished his and was lying beside me with his eyes closed.


“I don’t think we can do the world tour, Luce,” he laughed, but I knew there was a bit of pain behind it. 

When we were 17, we started planning this wonderful world tour where we would go to all these fantastic places and work to help people, you know, change the world as we traveled and try to leave it a better place than when we came into it. Of course there would be sight-seeing as well, but the plan was to equally split the time in each place so we could make a difference.


“I’m sure I could carry this s**t with me, it’s not too big and would fit in a suitcase or something. Come on, what’s the harm in trying?” I said.


“Where would we even go?”


“Paris. Let’s go to Paris. It’ll be fun, let’s just go,” I said, getting up and walking towards the gate, oxygen tank in tow.


“I would go anywhere with you, but neither of us has any money. It’s just not possible.”


“Yes it is, it’s called cancer perks. My parents said they’d send us there for a couple weeks, it’ll be great!”


“You’re kidding, right?”


“Not even a little bit.” Toby jumped up and hugged me, swinging me around in his arms and getting caught up in the cannula tubing in the process. We both laughed as we tried to untangle, and for the first time since the diagnosis, I was actually really excited for the future. Paris had always been a dream for us, and we were finally going to be able to see it.


       ~


The weather in France was really warm this time of year; we had all the windows in our hotel room open and it made very little difference to the heat in the room. We’d stripped all the sheets and blankets off the bed save for the fitted sheet and slept that way, but the warmth made it nearly impossible to sleep, let alone sleeping in the same bed. I liked kind of cuddling up, and as much as I wanted to tonight, Toby wouldn’t let me; we slept as close as possible while avoiding the possibility of overheating.


The sensor went off on my BIPAP machine around three in the morning; Toby slept soundly beside me unmoving and like a rock, but the minute I started gasping for breath, he was sitting bolt upright, calling an ambulance and getting me ready for when the paramedics would come in and take me away. Toby had me in his arms and we were waiting outside by the time the paramedics got there; despite my lack of ability to breath, I didn’t make a fuss, and tried not to move. I’d had a good few weeks here, and if this was going to be it, then so be it. I just felt bad that Toby would have to be there for it.


I woke up in the hospital a couple hours later, hooked up to a bunch of machines and trying to untangle myself; Toby was slumped in a chair beside the bed, his hand in mine, and I squeezed it, just to let him know I was awake.


“Fancy…seeing you here,” I said, smiling at him. He grabbed my hand and kissed it, pressing my palm to his cheek; I could feel the tears streaming down his face.


“Don’t you dare scare me like that again, Luce. Don’t you do it,” he said.


“But it’s going to happen eventually, Toby.”


“No, no dead. I won’t let you go.”


“I really wish it were that simple,” I sat up and kissed him lightly, giggling a bit when the tubes and wiring brushed up against his face and  made the whole kissing thing that much harder. “So what’s the deal with this whole hospital thing?”


“They’re sending you home, like, home-home. It’s just…it’s not possible for you to keep travelling. You’re getting worse, my love. I’m sorry.”  


    ~


I was glad that Mom and I lived on the ground floor of the apartment; we had elevators, to be sure, but it made getting in and out a lot easier, plus the people who lived in our building were kind of sketchy so that certainly didn’t help matters. Even though I was mostly confined to the bed, it was still nice to be able to move around and not have to worry about the elevator people or going up any stairs.


My room was now full of machines; after Toby and I had returned from France, Dr. Pitt and my cancer team decided I was going to need a lot more machines if I was intent upon the whole dying thing, even though at this point it would be too late anyway. I had the BIPAP machine on the right and another one that measured my heart rate and pulse on the left; my portable oxygen tanks as well as the rolling backpack I usually carried them in sat in the corner, and Dr. Pitt insisted that an iv be located somewhere in the room in case I became dehydrated and unable to eat as I got worse. Mom had moved the sofa bed into my room with Toby’s help so that someone could be with me during the night, and they seemed to switch shifts every day; Dad spent as much time here as he could too, but it was hard to do with work and dealing with my other siblings.


I was actually quite surprised that Toby was here every night; his parents were usually quite strict, and his work must be missing him quite a bit, but I guess parents and employers made exceptions when significant others were in the process of dying. I would have to thank them somehow.


“How are you feeling today?” Mom asked as she walked into my room, carrying a tray of food; Toby was fast asleep on the sofa bed, and I didn’t want her to wake him up, so I motioned for her to be quiet.


“I’m…cancertastic,” I said, smiling before coughing.


“You’re hilarious,” she said, sitting  beside me on the bed and turned on the TV that she and Toby had brought in here a couple of days ago. I was really thankful that despite the fact that I was dying and getting super weak and stuff that I was still able to play PS3 in bed and watch Lord of the Rings, “But really, how are you feeling?”


“I feel like it’s coming, you know? Everything seems really peaceful, really calm. For the first time in months my body isn’t giving me s**t whenever I try to take a breath,” I said and rested my head on her shoulder.


“Maybe you’re getting better? Who knows, maybe your body…”


“That’s wishful thinking Mom, but I appreciate it,” I squeezed her hand as she turned on Return of the King, my favorite of the LOTR trilogy and a constant fixture in my DVD player. We sat and ate our food as orcs were beheaded and dismembered in front of us, Toby still sleeping like a rock on the sofa bed.


A few hours later after the movie had finished, the machines went off. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t see, everything was going dark very fast and I was scared. I could hear Toby and Mom shouting on different phones, calling ambulances, calling family members, but I knew what was happening. My body had begun to shut down for good, and I don’t think even Dr. Pitt could save me now.


“T…Tob…Toby…” I said after I had regained my ability to speak,  reaching my hand out to him, which he immediately took.


“Yes love? What is it?” he said. His voice was shaky, hell, his arms were shaking, and I was very glad I couldn’t see what was happening to both him and my mom, and to myself for that matter. I imagined it would be quite surreal to see one’s self die.


“I…I love…you,” I said before once again coughing and fighting for breath. At this point, each new cough brought up pools of blood and I knew there was no getting out of this predicament. Mom was now holding my other hand and I could feel the tears hitting my paper thin skin.


"Please, don't go...no dead, remember? I won't let you, you're not allowed," Toby sobbed, but I was almost gone at this point. 


“I’m…I’m winning…the…war,” I said, smiling at him and Mom one last time before the machines started beeping like mad and my heartbeat came to a stop.


I closed my eyes, despite not being able to see even with my eyes open, and let myself fade into the universe. 



© 2014 Lucy Morningstar ♥



Author's Note

Lucy Morningstar ♥
Just a note before people jump to conclusions, this is entirely fiction other than the fact that it is based on a dream I had. I do not have cancer so don't worry.

In any case, like I said, this is based on a dream I had the other night, I guess it's my contribution to the sick lit genre or something. Sorry it's so broken up, this is just how it went in the dream. As a side note, eveyrthing that happens in this prior to the diagnosis is true...or rather, everything I said I thought about it completely true. I dunno, but I hope you all enjoy it. Thanks so much for taking the time to read it; I know it's long and stuff so it means a lot that anyone would even take a look at it :)


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Reviews

..... You have rather interesting dreams Lucy. Like the story. Please keep them coming.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Lucy Morningstar ♥

3 Years Ago

unfortunately I've been cursed with rather permanent nightmares; good dreams are so rare for me but .. read more
God damn it. I dont know how to feel here. Just FUUUU...
Dear Universe,
Stop giving her these BS dreams.
Signed, The Undertaker.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Lucy Morningstar ♥

3 Years Ago

hey, at least I wasn't hit by a bus this time. and they are at least good story material, even if th.. read more
Lucy Morningstar ♥

3 Years Ago

thanks for reading it btw

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Added on June 18, 2014
Last Updated on June 18, 2014
Tags: cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, heart cancer, stage 4, stage 4 cancer, dream, sick lit, sicklit, story, fade

Author

Lucy Morningstar ♥
Lucy Morningstar ♥

Ontario, Canada



About
Im not quite sure what to write here, so I'll just go basic, organized, and boring. Though I assure you I'm not boring lol. Name: Now that I'll Never tell ;) Age: 21 Eye Colour: Deep Blue Hair .. more..

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