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“It’s wet.” I dropped the dog’s toy disgusted. Bruce didn’t care any. He pushed the toy towards me, and I kicked it away only for him to prance after it and return the soggy thing to my lap. “No. It’s gross.” I tried to shove the toy off but Bruce put his big head on my lap. “Seriously? Can’t you help me?”

Looking up, I tried to turn my own pathetic puppy eyes on Hanna. She was as capable of helping me as the toy was but I liked making her smile. Sue me.

“Nope. This is the best show I’ve seen all day.”

She giggled at my defeated sigh. It wasn’t hard to get her to enjoy much anymore. Since what we called D-Day happened, all her parents did was hole her up in her renovated hospital styled bedroom. I opened my mouth to tease her about the new machine hooked up to her but everything crashed together as I watched as Hanna’s giggles turn into a coughing fit. It pained me to sit so quietly off to the side but I knew what she’d say if I moved. For every concerned word that would leave my mouth, she’d reprimand me in soft, stern whispers for treating her like some feather that could blow away at any second. She’d bat my hands away if I reached out to help or steady her. Any attempt at reassuring her or really myself would end in nothing more than her refusing to see me.

Hanna clutched her chest, I clutched the chair’s arms. Her shoulders shook, my own tensed. The coughing made her brows cinch tightly together in clear pain, and I could only hold my breath.

Please….just be alright.

I don’t know how long I sat there, painfully quiet as my best friend seemed to cough her life further away with every second. She eventually stopped though. And when she did, the only thing she had strength to do was smile weakly at me before her eyes closed for the day.

The visit was done. Feeling a wetness on my lap, I reached up and brushed the steady stream of tears from my face. Maybe that was why she smiled. Maybe she knew no amount of lecturing me about feeling sorry for her would stop me from crying. Or maybe she just didn’t have it in her to fight anymore.

I got up and made my way over to her. I don’t know what I’d do without her in my life. I already missed laughing with her at school and watching movies when they came out. She had to get better. “Take care of her, Bruce.” I scratched the dog’s ear as more of an afterthought than anything else. I guess I could say it helped me to feel something warm at my side, but it wasn’t the type of strength I needed. I needed my best friend. I needed my Hanna back. But according to her parents it was inevitable, I wasn’t going to have one for long.

I forced myself away from Hanna’s bedside before I started to cry again. Cancer sucked. I knew that better than most kids our age, but I didn’t know just how much it sucked to watch it steal someone away.

No. I shook the thoughts away. We would beat it. We were best friends afterall, and best friends could beat anything together. So I left with a forced smile to her parents and a vow to never miss a day by her side. She’d beat it. She just needed time.

That was the memory that decided to float around me as I watched them lower her casket into the ground. It was a nice enough service. Flowers everywhere, but they couldn’t have been in her honor since she never cared for flowers. Plenty of people were there to speak about her, not that they really knew her. I wanted to speak for her, not about her, but her family was against it. Truthfully, I wasn’t upset about it for long. I would have gotten choked up half-way in and ruined it. Instead I got to drop the last letter I’d ever write to her down into the hole she’d be in forever. My parents left me to talk with hers, and I just stood there teary eyed but not crying. I promised her I wouldn’t if she ever did have to leave me.

Looking up through blurry lashes, I clenched my fists. “Damn it…” One damn tear escaped without my permission and all I could do was let it go. She’d never yell at me for my sympathy or pain again. But she’d always be my Hanna, my best friend, even if we were a literal lifetime away from each other.

 

© 2016 Maura D.

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