One nightA Story by Lost in Wonderland
" I couldn't waste any time, I learned that with one life chaninging phone call..."
I got the call in the middle of my final exam for American Lit. (I really wanted to be an author, and this was the last class I had to take before earning my degree.) My obnoxious ring tone blared from the front of the classroom causing me to internally cringe in my seat Dang it! I must have forgotten to turn it off! I thought to my self in embarrassment. My professor gave the whole class his signature “you’re going to get it when I find you” look. I fought the urge to crawl under my seat as I saw him proceed to my backpack and answer my phone.
“Hello?” He asked a sophisticated-scholarly manner. He paused to listen and the whole class eyed him. Hell it was more interesting than this test.
Professor Mueller paled and slowly pulled the phone away. “Mr. Hanson, you have a call.” He sounded shaky. I cocked my head at him, confused as to why he didn’t make an annoyed remark or even let me take the call. Cautiously I rose from my desk, the chair’s squeak echoing loudly in the dead silent classroom. I made my way to the now ghostly white Professor Mueller and took my cell outside.
“Hello?” I Whispered, conscious that the whole class was probably straining to hear instead of focusing on the exam that would let us graduate.
“Andrew?” A woman answered. I smiled at the familiar voice of my old next-door neighbor.
“Hey Mrs. Kay. What’s up? I’m kind of in the middle of a big test right no-”
“It’s about Kate.” She cut me off in a choked voice. In the background I heard her husband’s soft sobs. This grabbed my full attention. Katie was -no is- my best friend who (only a few years younger than me). Even after I moved to New Mexico for college, we still kept in touch. The Kay’s are like a second family to me. Every Christmas and New Years Eve when I got my break I visited them
“What about her?” I asked, walking to lean against the glass doors of the A-wing. I gazed out into the bright, campus courtyard as Mrs. Kay brokenly told me her news. As she went on, all color drained from my face. My phone slipped through my fingers and hit the tile floor with an ominous thud. Sinking to my knees, I let out a strangled scream. Confusion, fear and sorrow bubbled up inside of me like an unwelcome volcano and I threw up. My lungs compressed, and I couldn’t breath, I couldn’t think straight.
No, no, Katie no…
The only flight I could get was at 5:00. There I sat, in that faded red, cushioned seat numbing my mind with the buzz of chatter that enveloped my ears for 6 excruciatingly long hours. I dropped my head into my hands and focused on breathing.
Finally a lady announced that my flight was boarding. I paced anxiously until she called coach and then all but ran onto the plain. I got a few curios looks because of my lack of luggage, but I didn’t care. All I could think about was Katie.
When we landed, I hurried out to the parking lot. During the flight I calmed down enough to feel like an idiot for not getting a ride. Still I hailed a cab, told them the Kay’s address and arrived the in 15 minutes. I went up the porch step taking them two at a time like usual (When Katie and I were younger, we thought that anyone who couldn’t skip steps was a wimp). Taking a deep breath, I knocked on the door. Mrs. Kay answered in looking worn down and depressed-who could blame her? When she saw me, she gave me a sad smile and motioned me inside the cozy, little house. I hugged her tightly.
“I’m so sorry.” I mumbled to the woman who had been more of a caretaker to me than my own mother. She nodded, wiping away a few stray tears.
“Kate’s up in her room.” She told me knowingly. I thanked her and ran to my best friends room. The well-known route filled my mind with memories of the pillow fights, tag games, and tickle wars from our childhood. It would have been nice to just stop and live in those perfect moments of the past forever. But I couldn’t. Not now anyways.
The door to her room hung open as usual. For a moment I just stood there, silently watching her. Katie had her iPod on, listening to her favorite song by Jet and dancing like a crazy person. Her dark auburn hair that she had tied into a messy ponytail whipped around as she sang loud enough to wake the dead. It brought a small smile to my lips.
I leaned against her doorframe and did our secret knock. Knock knock…Knoooock, knock knock knock! She whipped her head around to me. Her lovely, ivory face looked gaunt and she’d lost a lot of weight. She just seemed so breakable. But when she saw me, she still lit up and gave me the biggest, happiest, most beautiful grin in the whole world.
“Hey Katie bear.” I smiled, tears pricking in my eyes.
“Drew?!” She squealed and ran into my open arms, almost knocking me over. I wrapped in her in a strong embrace, shaking with tears, smelling her vanilla scented hair. She felt so fragile, but held me with a death grip. I kissed her forehead, so relieved to be with her again.
“Why…” I breathed eventually. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner? I would have come, I would have-”
“There was nothing you could have done, Drew.” She stopped me, looking up with her eyes as big as the moon. “I didn’t want to distract you from college. You’re so close to graduating. You didn’t need to worry about little old me.” She said the last part teasingly, elbowing me. But I couldn’t deny the gratitude I saw on her face.
“Katie, you’re like family to me. How could you even think school was more important than you?” I squinted at her, both of us plopping down on the edge of her bed. She gave me a little shrug and twiddled her thumbs absently. Her eyes drifted to the ceiling.
“I’m glad you came.” She said, still not looking at me. “My birthday’s tomorrow and I’m expecting a really awesome last present.” Her voice faded on those last lines, like she didn’t mean to say that.
“Last present…but what about Christmas?” I asked, the reality of her condition finally sinking in. I looked at her desperately. She just shook her head and continued twiddling her thumbs as if this wasn’t the worst news in her life.
“Katie!” I yelled, throwing my hands up in exasperation. “How are you so calm about this?” I was pacing now; I couldn’t stand still. I expected a few months, a year. But now I just didn’t know!
She looked up at me placidly. “I’ve made peace with it. God’s going to take care of me.” She hesitated and looked away again before she quietly admitted the last part. “That’s why I let them take me off my treatment early...”
I gaped at her. “What?” I mouthed, my throat completely dry. I swallowed hard. “Why? Why would you do that? I could have had months with you and you’re letting yourself die? How could you do this to me? To your mom and dad and little brother?” I was shouting the last part, angry tears streaming down my face.
“Because,” She yelled, getting in my face, “My dad quit his job to take care of me, medical bills are piling up, Josh had to quit soccer and we might lose the house since we’re late on the rent all because of me!” Katie fell to the bed, sobbing. I looked at her in awe. This girl was the most selfless person I knew, even in the face of death.
“Besides,” she continued, “At least God can take care of me.”
I scoffed. Religion was a touchy topic with her and me. “Your God is killing you, these doctors are helping you, why in the world would you still love Him?”
She gave a wistful smile. “Because, doctors can only help me till I die. But God will help me forever. And in Heaven, I won’t be hurting anymore. I won’t have to deal with all the scary Leukemia statistics. It will be pretty, and peaceful, and perfect.” Right then, I saw how terrified she really was. Guilt pierced my stomach; I didn’t come here to fight with her. I came to be the friend she needed.
I pulled her into my arms as she cried silently. I kissed her messy curls and she let out a shaky sigh.
“How long?” I asked solemnly.
“A week… If I’m lucky.” She murmured.
I let out a feeble laugh. “Well that sucks. You’ve always had bad luck. Remember when you went on a jog instead of going to the café for doughnuts with me? Zach Effron walked in and all you got was a crappy picture I took on my cell when he wasn’t looking.”
She giggled at the memory; it felt so good to hear her laugh. “Oh yeah and you wouldn’t stop bragging for weeks! I swear, Drew, I thought you had a little man crush on him!” She pushed me playfully. For an hour all we did was talk and reminisce, lying on her bed like nothing had changed. It felt almost normal.
“Well,” She said after a while, looking at her clock, “It’s getting late. Do you have a place to stay?”
“Um yeah, my grandma still lives just a few minutes from here. I’ll stay there. She’ll probably enjoy the visit.”
Katie nodded and led me to the door. We stood on the porch, trying to stay sheltered from the ever-present Seattle rain. I looked at my watch; it was midnight.
I grinned at Katie. “Happy birthday.”
She chuckled. “Where’s my present.” She demanded like an uppity princess, holding out her hand impatiently. I rolled my eyes at her and smiled. I took off my guitar pick necklace and clasped it on her neck. Ever since I made it when I was thirteen, Katie had joked how she would steal it one day. She touched it with two gentle fingers and looked up at me.
“Thank you.” Her voice was thick with emotion, and I caught her holding back tears.
I stared at my best friend: so beautiful, so brave, so kind and sweet. Rain pelted us, sending small streams down her creamy neck. Her damp hair stuck to her cheek and I lightly brushed away a strand. My heart thumped loudly in my chest. I couldn’t waste any time, I learned that with one life changing phone call. Throwing caution to the wind, I leaned in and pressed my lips to Katie’s.
At first she stiffened with surprise, then melted into me. I wrapped my arms around her slender waist, craving the feeling of her body against mine as if I needed to remind myself that right here, right now she was alive. And I wanted her. Her hands went to my neck and she twisted them in my dark hair. My hungry lips moved down to the base of her throat as they sought out her warmth. She gasped and pulled me closer. Why hadn’t I seen it before? Why had I gone my whole life without realizing how I felt about the girl next door? Why did I have to fall for her now, when it was too late?
I broke the kiss when I felt her weaken. She must’ve been tired. But when I saw the color in her cheeks, I didn’t regret kissing her. Even if this was the only week I got her, it was better than nothing.
“Katie bear?” I mumbled, my voice husky.
“I love you, so much.” I held her delicate face in my hands.
She leaned her blushing cheek into my palm and sighed. “I love you too.”
I smiled and pecked her forehead. I never thought I’d hear those words from her, but it felt right. I wanted to keep her in my arms forever. But she looked exhausted, and I had a whole week to give her the time of her life. So, reluctantly, I kissed her goodnight, promising to buy her a chocolate cupcake (her favorite food) for her 19th birthday tomorrow.
Sadly, I never got the chance to keep that promise. Mrs. Kay called me at my grandmother’s the next morning to tell me that Katie had passed out a few minutes after I had left. They tried to reach me on my cell, but it was still on the floor of the A-wing. They rushed Katie to the E.R., but there was nothing they could do. My best friend, and true love died with a smile on her face at 1:32 a.m. when she was 19 years old.
At her funeral, no one wore black. We wore yellow, her favorite color because it reminded her of all the times we watched the yellow sunrise on lazy summer mornings. Everyone that came cried, even the people she barely knew. Katie just had a lasting effect on people. From a simple smile when they were having a bad day, to helping with yard work just because it’s more fun than doing it alone.
I never went back to retake my final exam, but I didn’t need to. Katie always believed in my dream to be an author, and now she turned out to be my inspiration. I wrote a book about our lives and it turned out to be a New York Times best seller. Looks like she was still helping me out as an angel.
For the first time in years, feeling obligated after the endless battles between me and Katie, I went to Sunday church service and regained my faith. It seemed like all the things I thought were impossible at one point in my life, my best friend made possible even if she wasn’t here anymore.
I never stopped loving Katie, but even though it hurts to know I won’t see her for a while, she always brings a smile to my face.
© 2012 Lost in Wonderland
Lost in Wonderland
Wherever my books take me
AboutI'm Mickey....Hi c: I love God, love Jesus, love my church, and I won't judge you like I hope you don't judge me. I love music. Alternative and rock are my favorite genres:) I like Red jumpsuit .. more..
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