Diaries Magazine

Ch 6 - i Was Never Alone, Anyway

Posted on the 08 March 2013 by Mavie
“Em? Are you awake? The doctor would like to explain a few things,” Mum spoke softly, her voice raw from crying as she tiptoed into my room.The halogen lamps shone brightly overhead, my eyelids fluttered reluctantly allowing thin slivers of light to penetrate, waking me from a dreamless sleep. It had been two days since Zac’s last visit, the mild sedatives I had been given diminished the pain preventing Zac from appearing. Mum dropped heavily onto my bed, her body a living breathing advert for what defeat, loss and abandonment would look like if it was tangible. I knew what she was there for, I knew what the endless tests revealed, I didn’t need the doctor to tell me.“Em? How are you feeling?” Doctor Matthew knocked on the door. “I have the test results here.” Before he could step into the room, I faced him squarely. What was the point dragging this out? “I know Doctor. You don’t need to say it.”He froze, eyes widening. “I’m dying. Aren’t I?”That was all Mum needed to hear, she broke down wretchedly gasping mouthfuls of air through trembling hands. ***Later that night Mum brought dinner into my room, she had been to the local Italian restaurant that served the best cannelloni in town. The only difference was that I wasn’t in the mood to eat. My body felt full and even the smell of fresh melted cheese couldn’t change that. “The nurses tell me you haven’t had a bite to eat all day,” Mum placed the take away bag on my lap.“I’m too tired to eat, I think it’s these meds I’m on.” “Painkillers honey. You’re on painkillers.”“Well, they’re not working. My head hurts.” I rubbed my forehead with a pale hand.“I’ll just leave it here. Eat when you feel strong enough,” Mum lifted my blanket and settled back against the pillows. The shadows shifted and my eyes strayed to the far corner of the room. Zac materialised nodding a brief hello.“Where have you been?” I asked outraged at being ignored for so long.“The Italian restaurant dear,” Mum sounded puzzled.“Oh no, not you Mum. I was talking to Zac, he’s standing over there,” I threw a limp hand vaguely indicating his presence. Mum’s arm stiffened and she cast a furtive glance into the shadows. “Ssh, you need to rest, Em. There’s no one there.” Mum soothed, stroking my hair with excessive panicked force.“Rest for what?” I paused as Zac’s soft words reached me.“Zac says I don’t have long to go… He says the tumour is dangerously positioned, it’s growing each day…”“Em, don’t. Please. Just listen to yourself.” Mum pleaded, her voice straining with anguish.“Why would I listen to myself? I have him to listen to, he knows what he’s talking about,” I nodded at Zac who had settled into the armchair.“Oh Em! You will get better. The tumour will get large enough to operate on and then you’ll be fine, we can go home together.”“No Mum. I won’t be fine. Don’t say things you don’t believe. Zac’s right, it’s too dangerous to operate, but by the time the tumour gets to a good enough size, it would have done what it came to do. I won’t be here anymore.” It amazed me how methodical my voice sounded, it was if I was talking about a third person who made no difference in my life.Mum breathed sharply. She snaked an arm around my waist and pulled me closer, holding me in a warm embrace. “You’ve lost so much weight,” her worried words were full of maternal love.“She’s going to start crying again, Em. You have to prepare her better.” Zac lectured. “It’s okay Mum. I’m okay with it all. I will be with Dad, and Zac. Both of them are waiting for me. But I need to know you will be okay? You will Mum? You will be okay, right?”Mum didn’t speak, she swallowed hard trying to dislodge the large lump in her throat. “Mm.” “I love you, Mum.” I snuggled deeper into her arms.She let out a strangled cry and something wet trickled down my cheek. Mum was crying. ***A murderous pain exploded somewhere deep inside my head. My eyes shot open allowing me a brief glimpse of my empty bed.“Breathe through it, breathe Em.” Zac stood over me.His fingers gripped mine as another group of nails hammered into my head. “Zac! Make it stop!” His hands curved around my temples but the pain didn’t subside, instead my heart rate tripled and the machines blinked alerting the nurses to my rising blood pressure.Screens were checked and a syringe was emptied into the needle that had been taped to the back of my hand. In an instant the searing pain wavered, as if being pushed back by a cool bricked wall until it gently ebbed away leaving behind only a black abyss that pulled me under.***“Mum?” “I’m here, oh Em. I’m here. Thank goodness you’re awake.” Cool hands wrapped around my face as Mum’s lips made contact with my feverish skin. “What happened?”“You’ve been asleep for quite a while. We got worried. The doctor has set up a drip, just to get some fluids into you.”“Where’s Zac?”“Right here, Em... It’s almost time to go.” Zac placed a hand on my ankle, he smiled sombrely as our eyes connected.“I don’t know Em.” Mum said unaware of the man standing behind her. “You have to fight Em, please. Fight this. I need you here…” Mum’s tortured eyes pleaded through a thick screen of unshed tears. “I’m trying Mum, but the pain is too strong. It hurts. I don’t know how long I can hold on,” I whispered as another set of hammering sent alarm bells ringing in my ears.“You’ve done well so far, the doctor says if you can hold on another month or so, they can operate.”“A month? Haven’t I been here long enough already?”“It’s only been two weeks Em. The tumour is growing faster than we thought, it’s pressing against a part of your brain that causes you to see things.”“Zac is not a thing. He’s here, right behind you.”“Zac is dead Em. He is not here.” Mum’s voice rose in annoyance. “Stop this nonsense, focus on getting better and forget about this Zac. I don’t know why you keep seeing him.”“I’ll just ask him shall I?” I pulled my hand away from Mum’s and raised a questioning eyebrow at Zac.“Em, please don’t make me explain. You don’t need this right now.” Zac’s apologies had no effect. When I pushed him, he sighed and sat at the edge of the bed. “Fine, fine. But keep an open mind okay?”“I think you should sit down Mum. Zac’s about to explain why he’s here.” “I don’t remember much, but I’ll tell you what I can. Your dad wanted to be the one to help you cross over, but because he was too close to you, it wasn’t allowed. He wouldn’t have helped you understand…” he swiped at his hair thinking of a delicate way to put his next few words. “Instead, they sent me. I guess it’s probably because I was the only other person you knew that had died, I was your friend, someone you could understand. It would have been less emotional coming from me.”“I don’t understand,” I spoke softly, not through choice but the sudden urge to sleep had overcome me. “None of us chooses who gets to live, but we can ask to make the transition easier on those we love. Your dad wanted your mom to be prepared, he wanted her to be strong so she could go on living as best as she could. If your dad came himself, things would have got too messy. The job of preparing you and your mother for this change fell on me.”Mum was watching me with uncertainty as my brow furrowed, “Job? I’m a job now? How can a small boy take on such a role? You were ten when you died, shouldn’t you still be that age? You look at least twenty.”“That’s not what I meant, you’re not a job – its hard to explain so give me a break. And not everything stops when you die, I guess you’ll find out soon enough…” Zac shrugged.His callous words jarred me, I stared open mouthed at his lack of humanity. “What did he say?” Mum breathed as my expression shifted.“He says you have to be strong…” I decided to leave out the part about Dad, there was no point bringing him up and causing her more pain. “No, you can’t leave me. I won’t allow it.” Mum stared at me defiantly. “It’s not your choice Mum. It’s none of ours.” I swallowed hard. Mum wasn’t making it any easier.“Tell her at least you had the chance to say goodbye,” Zac encouraged.Goodbye, his words haunted me. Something snapped and realisation set in. I was sick, this tumour was not only killing me but it was slowly killing my mom. She had aged ten years in the last two weeks, I looked at her salt and pepper hair and held out a frail hand for her to take.“Mum,” my voice wobbled as reality set in. “Please, we can’t change this. It’s not our will. Just promise me you will be strong, please, be strong for me.” A fat tear escaped and rolled down my ashen cheek.“Oh, Em.” Mum cradled my head in a long hug and together we let the tears run free. We would both be losing each other.

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