"Good morning, Steven. How was your sleep?" Steven's grandmother, an elderly woman with curly grey hair and thick glasses asked in a chipper voice. Sitting on the couch, still dressed in pajamas with a bowl of cereal on her lap, she waved him over.
The television was on, hosting the face of a news reporter going on about how messed up the world was. Lowering the volume, she made room for him on the couch and he hobbled over to her.
"Good morning," he yawned, scratching his back before taking a seat. Plopping himself down on the couch, he sunk into the cushions. "Not so good."
"We heard a lot of moving around last night, your grandfather found you sleepwalking in the kitchen." She put a spoonful of Shreddies in her mouth before continuing. "Do you normally sleepwalk?"
Steven grimaced, reminded of the horrible nightmare. "Sometimes," he lied, not wanting to make a big deal out of it. "Hopefully I didn't make too much noise."
She only smiled at him in that grandmotherly way, her head slowly moving from side to side. "We only heard your footsteps, dear." Again, she took another bite, swallowing before continuing. "Do you have any plans today?"
"I'm going to go visit my father today, other then that, no." He slowly got back up, hoping to take a quick shower before driving to the hospital.
"Do you want us to come with you?"
Smiling, he told her 'no'. Right now, all he wanted was some time alone with his father. Perhaps he would even share with him the 'dreams' that he was having-he needed to talk with someone about them before he would burst from keeping the secret all to himself.
The only other person that knew, being Julia, was currently in a coma.
I could go to Alberta, he thought as he left the living room, making a beeline for the washroom. The thought had entered his mind more then once, it had been plaguing him. Really, the only thing holding him back was his father.
Although he could do nothing to stop him, Steven wasn't going to abandon him. Even for Julia, Steven would not waste away the last days of his father's life, if he was actually going to pass away. He was still holding onto hope that he would pull out of the cancer, not a miracle really, just his father overcoming the cancer. Sheer will power.
If only he wasn't deluded with the idea of Heaven, perhaps he would cling onto life a little harder.
Steven entered the washroom, closing and locking the door behind him. Beside him, a mirror was fastened to the wall, hiding a small cubby where combs and toothbrushes were held.
Ignoring the mirror, he opened a cabinet beside the shower stall, taking out two towels. One he threw on the floor, so that he could step on it when he was dripping wet, the other he hung nearby the shower stall to later dry himself off.
Ten minutes later, soaking wet, he stepped out of the shower.
His eyes finally landed on the mirror, which was covered in steam. Beneath the layer of steam, he could vaguely see the bathroom reflected in it.
Something was missing though.
Grabbing his towel, he dried off his hair and face, before wrapping it around his waist. His curiosity piqued by the mirror, he put his hand on it and wiped away some of the condensation before letting out a scream.
"No, no, no!" He ripped off his towel, drying more of the shiny surface off. Taking back his towel, his jaw dropped open. The towel fell to the floor, landing in a pile near the water that was dripping off Steven's trembling body.
He put his hand to his face, rubbing it slightly. "This is impossible, this cannot be, no. What is happening?" He put his face up against the mirror, hoping that all would be right.
Only, when he gaped at the mirror, he was still missing from it.
His reflection was gone.
The mirror showed perfectly all of the washroom before the steam began to cloud its surface once more. However, his entire body was cut out of the reflection-as if he were invisible.
A quick glance down confirmed that he was still there.
"Oh God, why is this happening?" The only thing he could imagine that would cause this to happen was those dreams. First the hallucinations, then that horrific, realistic memory, and now he was gone from the mirror.
Or was it just this one?
He wrapped his towel back around his waist, opened the bathroom door and ran towards his room. Inside, he went to his own mini-washroom, turned on the lights and moved hesitantly towards the mirror.
"Impossible." Just like the other mirror, he wasn't reflected in it. Everything else was, except for him. Touching the cold glass, he felt his stomach begin to tie into knots. Backing away from it, he began to shakily dress himself.
What could this mean?
Once he was fully dressed, his hair drying back into its messy, blonde curls, he put on a toque and his sweater. Outside, the leaves were slowly turning yellow and brown before they took their final journey to the ground below. A crisp breeze egged them on, stirring the fallen into clouds of leaves and dust.
Car keys in hand, he felt the chill through his sweater and hastened his stroll to the car. More leaves fell, swirling around in the air as the sun rose into the sky, surrounded by thick, hazy clouds. Glimmering through, the sunlight hit Steven, warming him as he basked momentarily in its glow.
There was still warmth remaining.
He got inside his car, started it up and while adjusting his mirrors, stared into them. For a second, he wondered if he'd only been imagining the broken mirrors and that his handsome, yet weary face would greet him when he cast a glance at the reflective surfaces.
No such luck, it seemed that every mirror refused to show him how he looked.
The urge to go to Alberta and find Julia was the more heightened, as well as his longing to tell his father everything. Though they hadn't seen eye to eye on most perspectives, he trusted that his father would know what to do. Or at the very least, advise him on what he should try to do.
Driving to the hospital, he kept replaying over and over in his head how he would tell his father about the dreams. Each time he imagined it though, he couldn't find the proper words to get him to believe his story was true. In the end, when he'd pulled up to the hospital, walked inside and found his father, he decided not to tell him.
"He's having a great day today, I haven't seen him this lucid in days." The nurse informed Steven when he entered the room. "But he still needs a lot of rest, I can give you no more then an hours time." The short, older nurse put a hand on Steven's shoulder, squeezing it comfortingly.
"Thanks for taking care of him," he told her before she'd went down the hall. "Means a lot."
"I would do it if it was or wasn't my job, your father is an incredible man. When you work with patients long enough, you begin to see patterns in them, and you know what they will say or how they will react. Your father surprises me however, he has a will to live unlike any I've ever seen. But not like the others, he lives because he can-and gives me hope in a place much void of it," she smiled sweetly, "I'm sorry, have a great day, Steven. My prayers are with you." She went down the hall without waiting for a response or turning back.
Steven watched her make her way down the hall, strangely envious of the happiness she exuded. The hope that he so direly wanted, yet lacked as the blind lack sight.
"Hey Dad," he pulled a chair over to his father's bedside, taking a seat in it. Smiling at him, he tried to blink back the tears. "Nurse said you're doing good today, I'm glad to hear it."
His father, seemingly older and more decrepit then ever, slowly nodded his head. "She would be right, today is a good day. I… I find that in odd thing to say though, since I've never felt so close to death. It seems to be only a few steps away, not a menacing thing either, but-oh look at me babble, I'm sorry. My thoughts these days aren't as coherent as they once were." He seemed to zone out a bit, his eyes clouding over.
"You sound okay to me, Dad." He took his hand, trying not to gawk at how thin and wrinkled it had become. "More family is coming next weekend… doctors say that you'll live until then."
"Because they keep draining me," he said with a bitter smile, "fluids, they make it hard to breathe, getting drained makes it hard to live." His hands wrapped tighter around Steven's but it was with only the strength of a newborn. Yawning, his face strained with pain that Steven could only imagine was wracking his body.
"Enough about me," he said forcefully, his tone stressed. "How is school?"
"School's fine, grade twelve is easier then I thought." He would normally answer this question tritely but compelled himself to say more. "Jasper's still around, still his same old self." Searching for more to say, he briefly reconsidered telling him about the dreams.
But when he looked up at his father, his eyes were closed. "Dad?"
"Keep talking, I'm just exhausted."
And so he did, telling him about school, Cerise and funny stories and memories that he loved sharing with his father. Instead of the usual response of laughter, his father could barely smile, instead he would only murmur something before his breathing slowed.
Then he fell fast asleep.
Getting up, he let go of his father's hand. Putting the chair back, he zippered up his sweater and left the hospital room.