All in a DayA Story by Dearantlers
24 Hours Left
I woke up to the sound of my parents' voices, wondering where I was. Suddenly, it hit me. I was in our local hospital after having one of the worst seizures I had had in a long time. The anesthesia they gave me finally began to wear off, although it hadn't completely disappeared. My eyes weren’t open, so it looked like I was still asleep. I could hear my mother’s soft voice, higher in pitch than usual, as if she’d been crying. Then there was my father’s deeper voice, also sounding a bit strained. He was whispering comforting words to her, saying it would be all right, that they would figure things out. Seconds later, I heard a horrid sound that I guessed was my mother crying. Then Dad started crying too. His sound wasn’t as awful, but it wasn’t comforting either. I forced my eyes open, blinking in the sudden light. Once my eyes adjusted, I tried to lift my head so I could see my parents, but the anesthesia still wasn’t completely gone, and I didn’t succeed. I let out a sigh, wishing I could see my parents. I imagined them hugging each other, tears running down their faces, but the picture just didn’t seem right. Parents aren’t supposed to cry.
The crying stopped suddenly, and I wondered why. I heard the sound of feet as both of my parents stood up, and came to stand by me. Their cheeks were streaked with tears, and more were still coming, though I knew Mom was trying in vain to hide them. She stroked my cheek with her soft hand, and Dad ruffled my hair like he had when I was a little kid. They were treating me like a six-year-old, not the fourteen-year-old I was. I mean, yeah, I was in a hospital after having a seizure so bad that they thought I might not make it, but I still didn’t appreciate the way they were acting. It was scaring me.
"Abigail, honey, how are you feeling?" Mom asked. Now they were really scaring me. They never cried, and I was always Abby. Never anything else. The only times they called me Abigail was when I was in trouble, or they had something horrible to tell me. The last time I had heard Abigail was over a year ago.
I tried to croak out a "fine" in response, but my voice wouldn’t work. I licked my lips, tried again, and this time worked out a feeble, "OK." My parents didn’t look convinced.
"Can we get you anything?" Dad asked, worry etching his face.
"No, I’m fine," I croaked. "Why are you crying?" I asked, almost terrified of their answer, but dying to know. My parents would have thought my word choice ironic.
They looked at each other, a question written on their face. "Should we tell her?" Dad asked her. I could tell he was hoping she would say no.
"She has the right to know," Mom whispered, bursting again into the tears that she’d finally stopped, and then hid them again in Dad’s shirt.
"Right to know what?" I asked. They were really scaring me now. The crying, Abigail, right to know something? They never acted like this.
"Abigail," Dad said, barely keeping back the tears. "The doctors say that your seizure did some damage to your body. You may not feel it yet, but your heart isn’t working properly, and well, they said that you have only, only," he faltered. I could tell he didn’t want to go on, but he had gone that far, and he had better not stop now. "You have only about twenty-four hours left to live." I barely heard the "left to live" part, partially because of shock, but partly because it came out with a sob, and the flow of tears started again. He kept going, trying unsuccessfully to keep the tears at bay. "It’s t-too little t-time to do anything a-about it," he stuttered. "The seizure wa-was unexpected, and w-well, like I said, th-they can’t d-do anything about it."
I stared unseeing at the ceiling, running what he’d said through my mind again and again. The stupid seizures I’d been having, but didn’t think were a big deal, were actually fatal. I was going to die. I’d never get to say goodbye to Allison, my best friend, or Henry, the boy I’d had a crush on since second grade, because I was going to die. I wouldn’t get to say goodbye to Sparkie, my dog, or Twister, my horse. I was going to die. My two kittens, Puss and Boots, would never playfully bite my fingers, or chase my feet as I walked around. The brand new book on my nightstand at home would never be opened; the camera I got for my birthday six days ago would never be used by me. I’d never go to our Junior High again, and see my favorite teachers, or all my other friends. Never again, would I leave this hospital. Well, I guess I would, but not breathing. I was going to die.
I made myself stop thinking those horrible thoughts, and made a promise to myself that I would do all those things. But how? I don’t know. I had no way to get out of the hospital, let alone get to my school, and especially not to my house, which was farther away, but I would figure something out. Today was Tuesday, and it was around 5 p.m. If I could somehow get out in the morning, be at school when it started, and then go home, I could be back here where I needed to be when my time was up. I made my mind up then and there that even if I had to crawl, I would get to the school and my house, and say all of my good byes. All these thoughts running through my head were finally too much, and I passed out in mid thought.
I woke up around five a.m. and came up with a plan. Allison would do anything for me if I asked, especially if she knew my condition. Even though it was early, I grabbed my phone and texted her, knowing she would be here at 7:30 like I’d asked her to. I knew my parents would be at the hospital around 8:30 to spend the day with me, so I knew I had to be gone before then. They had wanted to stay with me all night, but they had needed to be with my siblings for the night, and they wouldn’t be here until my three sisters and brothers were at school. Then I started my preparations.
I reached for my clothes. I was still in the embarrassing hospital gown, so I carefully changed into my regular jeans and T-shirt without trying to use too much energy. Even though I felt fine now, I knew that if I did even little things, my energy would be gone fast. I had always been weak thanks to my seizures, but this would be a different kind of weak. This wouldn’t be a ‘girl with seizures’ weak. This would be a ‘girl dying’ weak. Then I put the hospital gown back over my clothes so that any nurses that came in my room wouldn’t notice that I’d changed. I would take it off again when Allison got here. I tried to do something with the rat’s nest that was my hair, and then I started on another part of my project.
As seven rolled around, I heard more activity outside of my closed door, so I pushed the little red "Help" button on the side of my bed. Minutes later a nurse walked through the door. I asked for breakfast, and in just a few moments, she brought it to me. I had just finished the scrambled eggs, toast, and bacon, when Allison walked in. She just stared at me, trying to comprehend how I would be dead within less than twelve hours. Or it could have been that I had eggs on my face, but I didn’t think that was the reason. I could tell she was having trouble with the idea of my death, refusing to believe that this was my last day on earth. I understood how she felt. The whole ‘No more me’ thing was not sitting well with me either. Less than half a day and I would be gone. Thoughts like that can really make a person feel different.
"What’s the plan?" she asked, knowing what I wanted to do, but not how I wanted to do it.
"See the window behind me?" I asked pointing. She nodded at the obvious question because the window was impossible not to see. It was the only color in the boring white hospital room. "Now, see the rope under the bed?" It wasn’t exactly a rope. More like my bed sheets, and all other forms of material that the nurses wouldn’t notice disappearing, tied together.
"What’s it for?" Allison asked eyeing it suspiciously.
"To climb out the window of course," I answered as if it was the most obvious thing ever.
"But, it’s like, twenty feet down," she said, a little terror creeping into her voice.
"Eh, the rope should be long enough," I said dismissing her fear. "Plus," I continued as if this were the best part, "there are knots in it so that when we go down, we have something to hold on to." Despite my reassuring, she still didn’t look convinced.
"Why do we have to go out the window?"
"Because," I answered, a small sigh escaping me. "They won’t let me out of the hospital, and this is the only way." Allison just let out an exasperated sigh in response.
"Won’t they be looking for you though?" she asked, trying to figure out how we would get away with this.
"Yes," I whispered quietly. "But I’m leaving them a note. Hopefully they’ll listen to my plea and wait for me to come back." Allison nodded, and I knew she didn’t know what to say to that.
We tied the "rope" to the end of the bed, and crept out. It was harder than I thought, but I managed. "OK," I gasped collapsing to the ground. "Now, go and get your bike, and I’ll wait here for you." She ran off, and a minute later, I heard her bike coming along the sidewalk towards me. The bike was pink, which was Allison’s favorite color, and it had her younger brother’s red wagon behind it. I slowly clambered in, and we were off.
It took about fifteen minutes to get to the school, and once there, I wondered if it was really a good idea to be doing this. I still did it anyway. I went to my first hour class, Allison holding me steady as I walked, and slowly crept up to my teacher. Once there, I had to catch my breath. The seizure had taken more out of me than I had thought, and my breathing had increased because of the nervousness coursing through my body. I’d never been good at talking in front of people, and now I was about to announce my death to everyone. I could just imagine myself saying, "Hey guys. Just wanted to tell you that I’m going to die tonight. You’re all invited to my funeral, Saturday at ten." I ignored my teacher’s surprised face at seeing me here. I had collapsed at school the day before, so they all knew that I wouldn’t be back for a few days. I was back at school two days early at least. I sucked in a deep breath, and started to explain to her that this would be my last day here. My voice cracked when I told her that the seizure was worse than any others; that I had less than 12 hours left. Her eyes instantly welled up with tears as I asked her if I could say goodbye. She of course said yes. It’s impossible to say no to a dying person.
I explained why I was there to the class, and then said goodbye saying that they were all the best friends I could have ever had. I meant it too, even Dennis, the kid who threw spitballs at me on a daily basis. Henry-the boy I had the crush on-fell out of his chair he was so surprised, and other than that, there wasn’t a sound in the room. Finally breaking the silence, a boy I barely knew came up to me, hugged me, and whispered in my ear a feeble "Goodbye." I watched stunned as he ran back to his chair, hiding his face in his hands. I just barely got a glance of his eyes. They were brimming with tears. His one act of kindness made my tears, that I had so carefully hidden away, come gushing out in two great streams. Soon the whole class came and said goodbye too, Henry giving me a kiss on my cheek that made both our faces flush a bright red. Once I, nor anyone else, had anything left to say, I shuffled out of the room, and visited all the other classes that had my classmates and friends in them, and said my final good-byes.
Once through with that emotional ordeal, I felt drained, but knew I needed to finish my plan. Allison helped me walk back out the doors, and I was not surprised when no one stopped us. Allison was sluffing school, but the principal wasn’t going to make her stay when she was helping me. She helped me the rest of the way to her bike, and she took me home. I was surprised that my parents weren’t there waiting for me, but I was also glad. I needed to do this, and I knew that they would never let me stay to say my good-byes. I hugged each of my dogs, tears falling steadily down my face. I hugged my horse, and rubbed his face gently, loving the calming effect his steady breathing caused. I stroked each of my cats, and let the kittens attack my fingers as they played, not caring that they scratched me hard enough to draw blood. In a few hours, that wouldn’t matter, so why would it matter now? I hugged my favorite tree; the one I’d always leaned up against as I read a book. I took out old pictures, looking at my three-year-old self. I couldn’t believe the wonderful life I’d had. I took my camera from my bedroom, and captured a picture of everything, hoping the pictures in the camera would be forever in my head. The pictures were of everything that would stay in focus long enough for me to take the picture. Allison, the kittens and cats, my horse, dogs, house, cars in the yard, and everything else. I would leave the pictures and camera for my family to find later. Hopefully they would treasure them like I was treasuring them now. As I turned the camera off, I couldn’t help but wish that my parents and siblings were there for me to take a picture of. I hung the camera around my neck, vowing to take one of them later. I thumbed through my new book, and took one last look at my home. Then, after glancing at Allison, she helped me in the wagon, and took me away from the place I grew up, and the place I loved for the last time. I didn’t glance back. Even if I had, I wouldn’t have seen anything. My eyes were too full of tears because of my quiet sobbing, to see even my legs, inches away from my face.
When we made it back to the hospital, the nurses were going crazy. A girl with about six hours left to live had gone missing with a rope hanging out of her window and a note saying not to follow. It’s not the greatest sign, especially when she can barely walk five feet without collapsing. When I walked in, leaning heavily on Allison’s shoulders, it seemed the nurses went even more frantic. They got me in a wheelchair, wheeled me back to my room, and laid me gently back in my bed. They called in a doctor, then checked my heart rate, breathing, and almost anything else they could check. I got pretty annoyed until I saw my parents. Worry, grief, unhappiness, and disappointment in me for running off like that were all written on their faces, and those were the emotions the camera captured as I snapped a picture of them. I knew I was in trouble, and braced myself for a lecture. It never came. It took a couple of minutes, but I finally understood why. They would never scold me when I had only a few hours left to live. They wanted their last memories of me to be happy, not of them yelling at me.
My parents let me call my grandparents, and I enjoyed talking to them, except for the moments that they couldn’t talk because they were crying so hard. Then they brought in my three younger siblings, Jake, Aysha, and Lily, and we talked for a while, about nothing really. Lily, who was only 3, looked up at me, and asked in her sweet innocent voice, "When are you coming back?" None of us dared answer her, too afraid of the answer to voice it. I snapped a picture of each one of them. Then I hugged and kissed them all, telling them how much I loved them. I wondered if it was possible to run out of tears. Throughout the day I’d cried gallons, and now was no exception. We talked until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer, and they left me alone to get some sleep, promising to come back later. Promising to say their final good-byes. They all believed that they would see me alive one last time. Somehow, I saw in their eyes, that they were still hoping, praying, and believing that somehow I wouldn’t die, somehow I would keep holding on to life.
They never got the chance to fulfill their promises of seeing me alive again. That light of hope shining in their eyes was snuffed out less than two hours before my time was supposed to be up. Their belief in my survival was smothered by a horrible beeping that filled my room. The monitors keeping track of my pulse, breathing sounded a major change in their signal. My heart was slowing, my breathing was shallower. Less than five minutes after the beeping started, now accompanied by pounding footsteps, nurses yelling, loud, gulping sobs, and the frantic screaming of my mom for someone to do something, for someone to save me, I thought of how much I would miss my family, and how they would probably miss me more. I said a quick prayer in my heart that I would see my family again, that this wasn’t a goodbye for good. That it was just a so long. I took one last shuddering breath with my final though being how much I loved my family.
© 2012 Dearantlers
Shelved in 5 LibrariesAdded on June 26, 2011
Last Updated on October 12, 2012
Where unicorns roam wild, dragons soar overhead, and pickles sing. (Your guess is as good as mine)
AboutI'm either a girl or a boy. I live somewhere. I like to read and write. My age is somewhere between 1 and 1000. (Minutes, days, years or centuries, I don't know.) I'm a little crazy, (can you tell?) a.. more..
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