Writing One Page at a Time
(I started this novel in high school and now I believe it is time to finish it. The original is gone, so a rewrite is in progress. I still remember most of what was written. Let’s see where this will take me.)
My Dearest Zeke,
By the time you have read this, I am sure I will be dead.
I’ve had a secret that I have hidden from you for years.
How can I tell you I love you and I am dying all in one letter?
I pulled out my phone and jotted a text down instead.
Hey Zeke, I look forward to study group with you tonight. Pizza sound good for dinner? message sent 6:45 pm
Tonight had to be the night I told him everything. I had no clue if what I told him would affect him the way I thought it would. It was a lot to take in during one conversation, but I had to tell him. I had fallen madly in love with him, and it wasn’t fair. There were things my depressed and aching soul had hidden from the world for quite some time. I was already ridiculed in school for being different. From day one of sixth grade, Damien had pushed my buttons, trying to make me cry. I was so strong in front of them yelling rude remarks back at them. They had no clue that when I was alone, I cried my eyes out because of the seclusion they made me feel. Had they known the hidden secret of mine, would they still have pestered me with such undue duress? It’s in the past now and unchangeable.
Tonight was the usual study night. Zeke needed to bring his grades up to remain on the football team, and I was the lucky person chosen in class to become his tutor. I didn’t mind it at all, I mean, he’s gorgeous. I had the teaching capacity to bring his grades up, and to tell you the truth, I had had the hugest crush on him since the day we met. Of course, the circumstances we met under were more for torture than pleasure as he, the face of an angel, mocked me in front of all the guys in school pretending to like me. It was crushing when they found out I in fact did have a crush on him. As he matured, things did change, but I still never attained the holding hands while walking down the hall with status as I had wished.
Now, tonight, I was laying something heavy on him. Hell, heavy doesn’t even describe it. What I had planned was unimaginable to place on someone’s shoulders. We had grown so close in the past few months that it felt like everything was surreal. My parents had grown to trust us during our study sessions, so they had started planning a date night for our group study nights. Tonight when they left, I hugged them longer than normal and told them I loved them like a thousand times. They were confused, but told me they loved me as well. My last doctor’s appointment they didn’t attend with me, so no suspicion had grown over this bittersweet farewell.
I had everything planned out. A bottle of pain pills my doctor had prescribed me sat in my room as normal routine. I could swallow the whole bottle at the end of studying. After I told him how I truly felt about him. He had been there for me in ways he himself couldn’t see. By the time my parents would come home, he would be gone and I would have slipped into a blissful sleep.
A knock at the door broke me from my concentration of my farewell letter to my parents. I hid it underneath my math book and ran to answer the door.
“Hey, Sarah,” Zeke said smiling as he held up a pizza.
“I meant we could order one,” I replied smiling and shaking my head.
“Your parents have paid for every order of take-out in the last three months. It’s on me tonight,” he said walking through the door.
He walked past me and proceeded to the kitchen where he popped the pizza down on the counter. He grabbed two plates, two cups filling them with ice, and snagged two cans of soda from his backpack.
“I even brought your favorite drink.”
I was beyond elated that he knew what my favorite soda was. Melancholy couldn’t even describe the emotions tumbling about in my chest. It was a depressing, heavy, sick feeling mixed with euphoria and ecstasy. If anything had to be said tonight, it was now or never. He motioned for me to sit down at a plate as he plopped a piece of pizza with the works down on it. He even bought me my favorite pizza. My final meal would be exactly what I loved with the person I was in love with. I know what most people would think. I am only sixteen so I have no clue what love is. If you go a day without talking to someone, or seeing someone, and you feel like your heart has broken, you know you are in way over your head with feelings towards them.
I eyed my pizza and the normal nausea I experienced bubbled to the surface. It had been a week since my last treatment from my doctor. The side effects still hit me even after the medicine had processed through my system. I looked up to him frowning at me.
“What?” I asked shaking my head.
“Aren’t you hungry?” he asked.
I smiled and picked the pizza up forcing a bite of it down. He cracked a grin and took a seat in front of me. I glanced to his hands as he lifted his pizza from his plate and noticed they shook a tiny bit. I had never witnessed him jittery before and wondered over the excitement he was feeling.
“What’s with you today?” I asked forcing another bite of pizza down. “You seem kind of…nervous.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he replied wolfing down his slice of pizza.
“So, there’s nothing you want to get off your chest?” I asked still watching his jittery hands pick up another slice of pizza to eat.
He stopped midway to his mouth and stared at me.
“What?” I asked blushing slightly from his eyes on me.
“There is something rumbling through my mind,” he replied setting his pizza down.
“Well, what is it? You know you can tell me anything. I am a locked book,” I said locking down my mouth and tossing the figurative key.
I watched him swallow as he prepared to speak. “Well, there’s this girl in school I want to ask out, but I’m not sure what her answer would be,” he replied looking down at his plate.
“Oh,” I replied rethinking telling him about my feelings for him. “Well, I’m sure whoever she is, she will say yes.” I offered him a smile.
“What makes you say that,” he asked taking a sip from his glass of soda.
“You know the answer to that Zeke,” I replied rolling my eyes in irritation.
“Enlighten me,” he smiled leaning back in his chair.
“Football player, popular, cute, funny, smart; why wouldn’t they say yes to a date with you?” I asked and immediately turned red.
“If you were the girl, would you say yes if I were to ask you out on a date?” he asked placing his hands behind his head and leaning back in the chair.
He completely caught me off guard with that question. I stammered through the answer. “Well, I… uhm… err… maybe. I mean, if you genuinely wanted to go on a date, I would take you up on the offer,” I replied averting my eyes from his.
“Why can’t you answer the question while looking me in the eyes?” he asked. “Do you mean the answer or not?”
“You should know… I mean come on! Who was humiliated in front of everyone for admitting liking you,” I shot back harsher than I meant to.
“You still hold a grudge over that,” he asked shaking his head.
“Not a grudge, just more of a stepping stone into the teenage world of boys,” I retorted.
“Well, in all seriousness, if I asked you, your answer would be yes?” he asked again.
I became irritated with the questions and answers game. “Yes! Okay.” I proceeded to play with my slice of pizza on my plate.
“Well, then will you for real?” he asked.
I lifted my eyes to his quizzically. “What?” I asked shaking my head trying to wrap my thoughts around what he was asking.
“Will you go out on a date with me?” he asked more sternly and sincerely.
“The girl… you want to ask out… is me?” I asked furrowing my brows in confusion.
“Yes, Sarah. I want to go out on a date with you. Why is that so hard to believe?” he asked leaning forward over the table to speak to me directly.
“Because it’s me,” I replied. “I am a nobody. I tutor you. That’s the only reason why we even hang out. In school, you just pass me by like we don’t know each other.”
“That is incorrect. YOU walk past me without acknowledging me there. I would happily walk and talk with you through the halls. You stick to yourself and walk looking down through the halls. Why?”
I looked up at him from my plate wondering how I could answer this question. I avoided the answer with a question. “What would Damien think of us going out on a date? You don’t want to be a part of his mockery,” I stated sarcastically.
“This has nothing to do with him, nor does it concern him. This is about you and me. Why is it so hard to believe that someone likes you; that I like you?”
I was stunned silent for a moment. “You want to know the real reason?” He nodded to my question. “I have never stopped liking you and for three years, I have been the center of everyone’s joke. Ridiculed day after day over something from middle school while also dealing with my own personal issues.”
“What issues are those?” he snapped back.
I licked my lips in preparation of what I was going to tell him. I had rehearsed this speech so much, but I didn’t think it would come so soon during the night. I sighed and bowed my head.
“I have cancer, Zeke,” I replied quietly.
He slumped back in his chair and his face reddened. “You are just now telling me you have cancer? How long have you had it?”
“Since middle school. It went into remission, but it’s back now and the doctors say there is no chance of it going back into remission even after chemo treatments.” I watched his face for a response, but his face remained unchanged and mute of expression. “I had actually planned on telling you that tonight as well as telling you… I liked you.”
“Damnit, Sarah! You can’t drop all of that on someone in just one night!” He stood from the table and paced the floor. He grabbed his book bag and headed for the door.
“Where are you going?” I asked standing from my seat and following him.
“Study is canceled tonight. I need… to go,” he said opening the door and walking through it.
I stood at the door with my heart crashing in its cavity. “I understand,” I replied with the tears brimming behind my eyes. “Goodbye, Zeke. Have a great night!”
He whirled around and yelled at me, “Were you really planning to tell me all of this tonight?!”
A single tear slid down my cheek and I stood there and just stared at him. I couldn’t answer him. I just shut the door closing the open distance between us and shutting out the look he was giving me. I sat down on the bottom step of the stairs to the top floor and cried. I ruined everything tonight. We were past going back to the way things were before I told him my secret. I heard a knock on the door and it just made me wish I was already dead.
“Just, go home, Zeke. Have a great life,” I yelled through my tears.
“Sarah, let me in,” he replied.
“Just go!” I screamed through the shut door.
I started upstairs for my room. I had the answer I needed to actually go through with my plan. I opened my door and ran over to my dresser where I kept the pills. I struggled to get the child-proof cap off of the bottle succeeding by nearly dumping the bottle out in the process.
“Give me those,” a voice called out running up behind me.
Zeke wrestled the bottle from me and walked to the bathroom where he flushed them down the toiled.
“What the hell! Those are my pain pills!” I screamed at him.
“What were you going to do with them? Take the entire bottle? What the hell is wrong with you?!” he snapped at me.
“What does it matter, Zeke? You are the first person I tell about my curse and the first thing you do was bolt out the door,” I hissed back at him.
“I was angry! Hurt! Sarah, I have been your friend, your close friend for three months now! You should have told me!” he bellowed.
“Why? So you could talk everyone into taking pity on me? I don’t need anyone’s sympathy or pity at that damned school! If they weren’t sympathetic, they would be just as rude and obnoxious over the entire situation. ‘Oh, Sarah has cancer. Let’s egg her house!’” I pushed my books off my table in anger.
Zeke stooped down and picked the piece of paper up from the floor. It was the suicide letter I had been writing my parents.
“You were going to kill yourself after I left tonight…” he stammered.
He sat down and ran his hand through his hair as he read what I had written so far.
“The doctors gave me six months to live and I haven’t told my parents. This seemed like a better solution than slowly withering away and becoming a ghost of the person I used to be,” I replied sitting on my bed.
“You are so selfish!” he yelled at me.
“I am selfish? I am selfish! I am dying from cancer, Zeke. I stay in constant pain. I am miserable all the time. What should I live for?” I yelled back.
“Me,” he replied as a tear fell from his eyes. “Live for me,” he begged.
I broke down in tears. “This isn’t a Mandy Moore movie! This is real life! There is no happy ending for me.”
“Sarah, I love you. I have since that day I bumped into you in the cafeteria in middle school. When I am finally confessing my feelings for you, you are giving up on life. The doctors don’t know everything! You could live much longer than six months!” He stared at me red-eyed from the tears he held back.