Just Bailey

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Gay and Lesbian  |  House: Booksie Classic
The true story of a girl, who I loved, who was dying. A story written because I couldn't live another day without writing the truth.

Submitted: July 31, 2016

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Submitted: July 31, 2016

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Unlike most people, I was lucky. I knew who I was… who I wanted to be. Unfortunately, the only way to know the good things are here is to drown in the bad. You only appreciate air, when you’ve been drowning for so long.  Then, there’s that feeling, the feeling that you’re full and empty at the same time. To feel completely filled to the brim with utter emptiness. The only thing left to do is remember the good, while you’re pulled under into the bad, waiting for the day you start to see the light at the surface again. That, my friend, is a day I can’t wait for to arrive.

I’m going to tell you a secret that I can only pray you could begin to understand. Let me begin by telling you that in the third grade, my mom bought be a blue dress. I thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world. I wore it on the first day of school, and on my birthday, and to every party I went to that year, and on picture day. It got to the point where my mom had to hide it every so often.

I knew before most people. A few people I know didn’t find out till around the seventh grade. Some people not till much later.  I was a little girl in a blue dress in the third grade, and I was hopelessly in love with a girl.

I lived in a two story house with a backyard that to me seemed like a new world. There was a crappy little park about a two minute walk through the woods straight out of my back yard. And trust me, it was terrible. No one dared to go on the slide because some ignorant bastard took a piss on it and no one wanted to test the chances on that being true. There used to be a pole to slide down, but something must have happened because there was a board nailed over the opening.

There are two versions to this story, the one I told my mom when I came home with grass stains on my skirt and bruises on my face, and the version only two people know. And I, am one of those two people. So on a day, that appeared to be as insignificant as any other, I was at the park. Let me explain my popularity situation. Before today, I spent my free time at forced swimming lessons, optional knitting circles, choir rehearsals, and playing bad mitten against myself in my backyard. As you can see, not many kids were lining up to hang out with ‘the lonely third grade dyke’. Believe it or not, eight year olds can be meaner than the prisoner of hell himself.  That’s why after the next move, I wasn’t out. Not publicly anyway.

His name was Malachi. He was a grade younger than me, and I hated him more than all of the other kids that thought they were another original quick wit, that came up with a clever gay insult. Honestly though, they were all stupid. I don’t know if a fag fish is a real thing, but if it was meant to insult me, I don’t think it worked. Unfortunately, he lived two blocks away, and was constantly at the park.

He was in the second grade, but it still hurt like a bitch when he called me a fag and pushed me onto the ground. It hurt even more when he started kicking me. I surprised myself and didn’t cry. Well… not till I got a kick to the head, but what did you expect? I was eight and it hurt like hell. I knew what I was capable of, and I wasn’t even close to being able to kick his ass. So, by default, I laid there, and took it. Because I felt too weak to do anything else.

“Leave her alone Malachi. Or I’ll tell mom.” The voice sounded like a girl’s, then, strangely, he left. I was lying on the ground when she crouched down. I’ll never forget when she asked if I was okay, or when she grabbed my hand and pulled me to my feet. “I’m Bailey. Call me anything else and we can’t be best friends anymore.”

“We’re best friends?”

“Well, we can be. If you’d just tell me your name.” Then the corner of her mouth slightly turned up and I felt as though I had known her for as long as I’ve lived.

“Kaitlyn. It’s Kaitlyn.” I was suddenly aware of everything that was wrong. My shirt looked like I rolled down a muddy hill, my head was pounding, my side was aching, and I couldn’t remember if I brushed my teeth that morning. Before that very moment, I couldn’t remember ever feeling as insecure as I did right then. And it felt that Bailey knew exactly what I was thinking.

“Don’t worry about him, he’s not exactly open minded when it comes to that kind of stuff.” Bailey turned and started walking towards the opening in the tree line, heading to the woods. “You coming Kait?” She called me Kait. No one I had ever met had called me anything but Kaitlyn before. I always told them not to, I thought it was awkward and weird. But when she said it, it felt different. Lighter, in a way. She stopped and waited for me once she realized I wasn’t following her. Best friends, I thought, then ran up to walk with her.

“Now that we’re best friends, we have to tell each other all of our secrets.”

“Why?”

“Because that’s what my momma says. She told me that best friends save each other. That if you want someone to be there for you, you have to let them know who you are, so that they know how to help you best.”

“Wow. My mom just tells me to change my dress and clean my room.” This make Bailey giggle a little. And for some reason, that made my face feel warm.

“Well that’s why you need me.” She stopped in front of a log and turned to me. “Here.” She extended her hand and looked at me. I took it and she smiled. God, I liked it when she smiled. Then she stepped onto the log, and slowly trailed me behind her.

At the other end was a hill. Not a big one, but it felt huge. Open. Free. She let go of my hand and took a few steps to the top of the hill and laid down. I took a few steps, then sat beside her.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m waiting.”

“Well what are you waiting for?”

“The stars.”

“Why?”

“So I can make a wish, silly.” At this she turned on her side and patted the grass next to her. A motion I assumed meant to lie down, so I did.

“What would you wish for?” Her smile that never really ever left her face slowly faded away. Then she closed her eyes.

“Why?” I felt that I had hurt her and hurting the girl that I have only known for half an hour, strangely felt worse than getting my ass kicked by a seven year old. I had to fix my new best friend, because it hurt me when she was sad.

I grabbed her hand and looked at the sky with her. It was a dark red and was preparing to give its prized possession over to darkness for a few hours. I think it knew, just like Bailey knew. The sky changed colors because it was giving the world a present. The sky knew that without the darkness, we couldn’t wish and gaze upon the stars.

“Because we’re best friends and you said we had to tell each other everything.” I think this was the right answer, because she squeezed my hand for a moment.

“I’d wish to be better again.” She turned her head and looked at me and I think she knew how confused I was. She pulled her hand away and lifted it to her beanie. I’m ashamed to say that it was Hello Kitty themed, not that it matters much anymore. When she slid it off, I was even more confused than I was to begin with. Under her beanie, she had no hair. The way she looked at me was strange; it was like she was worried that I would get mad. I didn’t understand that. Why would I get mad at something as simple as not having hair?

“What’s wrong Bailey?” She slipped her beanie back on and reached for my hand that I happily gave to her.

“My momma said that God loves me so much that he wants me to come home early, but she said that if God takes me to heaven, I’ll have to leave her and Malachi and Mason. She told me not to be afraid when it happens though, because it’s going to be okay.” I was quiet for a while because I had to process what she was telling me.

Looking back, I now understand. That was the day I fell in love with a girl, and that girl was dying. I remember staying out late that night till I heard a whistle. I knew it was my dad. I don’t know why, but he always whistled when he wanted me to come home. She whistled loud and I always knew it was him. Bailey once asked me why I let him call me the same way her momma called their dog Mason. I told her I didn’t know. I told her that it was okay because he was only home on the weekends. He worked in a different part of Alaska and that was far away.

After that, Bailey would come over a lot. Since I wasn’t out to my parents yet, Bailey was always just my best friend to them. But that was not even close to the truth. It was two months after the night on the hill and I have acquired a lot of information. Bailey was homeschooled because her momma wanted to keep her as close to home as possible. It was a lot cooler playing bad mitten with Bailey than it was all by myself. Bailey, although not sure of her sexuality, told me that she liked me, the way her momma liked her daddy when they first met. Bailey lived for those stories, each one made her heart stronger. I didn’t know a lot of things, I was nine, but I did know that I didn’t care about anyone as much as I cared about the girl in the beanie who I met at the crappy park, the dying girl on the hill wishing on the stars.

I was in love, with a pretty girl dying of cancer, and it hurt, much more than anything that I had ever felt.

Thinking about it now, makes it sound tacky, but when you’re nine and care about someone more than you care about yourself, everything sounds tacky. And it’s amazing.

March 23rd, Bailey’s 10th birthday. She was homeschooled and didn’t have any friends really… so it was just me and Malachi. My mom took me to the mall the day before and let me pick out a present. I wanted to get her something I knew she would like.

Chris, Bailey’s dad made her a cake, he was a baker. I’ve never seen such beautiful decorations on a cake. It was like a full, floral arrangement made of frosting. Bailey’s mom bought her a dress that looked really pretty, but she refused to wear it. Bailey just kept asking if we could go play outside. Something seemed off. She was a lot skinnier than she was a few weeks ago. And not the healthy looking skinny. And she looked white. Not usual white, but absence of color white, and it worried me. This is around the time that she started getting tired. She was always tired, but she tried not to show it.

“Alright Marissa, hug your daddy then you girls could go outside.” This is the first time I have ever heard Karen call her anything but Bailey. She got up, gave her dad a hug, and met me at the door to walk down the stairs towards the park.  

It was her birthday, and I haven’t seen her smile once.

“Hey Beautiful.” That managed to get a smile out of her, but I never doubted it would.

“Hey.”

“So… Marissa, huh?” I smiled a little and as soon as she rolled her eyes and smiled, I knew it was a safe topic.

“Remember what I said to you the day we met?” Her eyebrows were raised and I was smiling now too.

“You told me to call you Bailey, and that we couldn’t be friends if I called you anything else.”

“Best friends.”

“Best friends.” I confirmed. “But you also said that best friends had to tell each other all their secrets so they could help each other. Remember?” I was still smiling and so was she.

“I remember.” There was a long silence where I couldn’t find anything worth saying. Until Bailey started to talk again. “Marissa Temperance Bailey. That’s my name. I don’t like it though.”

“I think it sounds pretty.”

“It does. That’s the point. I don’t want a name that makes me sound ‘pretty’, because I, of all people, am not pretty.” At this point we made it all the way to the top of the hill, now we were just standing there. Bailey wasn’t looking at me anymore, she was staring at the ground. Is it possible that Bailey truly doesn’t think she’s pretty? I don’t understand how the most beautiful girl I have met could feel anything but pretty.

I didn’t know what to do. What could I possibly say or do to let her know that when I look at her, I see a beautiful person.

“I love you.” At that, her eyed widened and she looked up at me again. It was nice to see her face again.

“Why?” I sat down on the grass and she followed.

“I don’t know. I just do.” It was quiet for a while. I didn’t know what to say. Bailey looked at me for a while, then leaned over and put her head on my shoulder.

“I love you too.” It was my turn to stay quiet. I just listened to her breathing. It’s a sound, no, a feeling, that I miss.

That night, we stayed by the hill and she opened her present till we heard my dad’s whistle. A black bandana with white designs. She loved it, almost as much as I loved her. She wore it every day in place of her beanie. Everything was good for a while.

Until it wasn’t.  Bailey and I were playing Bad mitten on May 2nd in my back yard. I remember her smile, her laugh. I remember the way she would bite her lip when she blushed, and the way she would clutch the hem of her shirt when she was nervous. Unfortunately, I also remember serving the birdie and watching as she went to hit it back. She dove to reach it before it hit the ground. And then she didn’t get up.

I ran to where she was lying, she told me her stomach hurt and she was tired, then she closed her eyes. I promised her I’d be right back, and then I remembered my mom wasn’t home, and so I ran. I ran faster than I had ever run before. I ran across the park, taking the shortcut to Bailey’s apartment. Everything after that was a blur.

Chris drove me back over to my house, I practically ran out of the car before he stopped it. I went back to Bailey. She was paler, and weaker than when I left her. Then her dad came running. He scooped her up and laid her in the back seat. I picked up her bandana. The one I gave her that fell onto the grass as she collapsed.

I remember asking her dad if I could go with them, and I remember sitting in the back with Bailey’s head resting in my lap. And I remember crying with her dad as the doctors told him she wasn’t going to make it to see tomorrow.

Two hours later, they said we could see her, one at a time. Her dad went first. I waited in the hall with the nurse until Chris came out and gave me a small nod and put his hand on my head. He did that to us a lot. Bailey and I both. He loved us both. I went in.

At some point after the car ride, I tied the bandana around my wrist. I didn’t notice, but I was twisting it the entire time. She looked so weak lying in the bed that wasn’t hers. She tried to talk to me, but I could tell it was hard enough just for her to keep her eyes open. She reached out to grab my hand, and then she smiled when she felt the bandana in a new place. I reached to take it off, but she stopped me.

“Keep it.” It was soft and hoarse, but it was perfectly clear to me. So I kept it. I still have it, and it’s been four years.

She smiled, and then cried. I said nothing. There was nothing that needed to be said.

“I love you.” I had to say it one more time; she needed to understand how much she mattered. How much I cared, how much I will always care.

“I know.” Maybe to you that sounds conceded, or ignorant, or maybe slightly cocky, but it wasn’t. She knew that I needed to hear that she knew. I needed to hear that she understood how important she was. She smiled, and I smiled back, until Chris told me that Karen was here and wanted to see Bailey. So I said goodbye, and went to cry in the hallway.

Marissa Temperance Bailey was a fighter. She was determined. The doctors told us she wouldn’t make it to see another day, she proved them wrong. Bailey died at 12:25 AM on May 3rd. She made it, to that next day.

By the time I turned ten in September, I had moved up with my dad. We decided to leave our old house. My mom didn’t think being around the many reminders of Bailey was good for me, and I hated her for pulling me away from everything that reminded me of the girl I loved.

So I had already figured out who I was and who I wanted to be by the time I started the 5th grade. Accept this time I decided that secrets were needed, because I knew this time there wouldn’t be anyone to stop the bullies. I wouldn’t tell anyone about anything that really mattered to me unless I loved them.

I don’t mean love the way I loved her, because I love a lot of people. I mean love as in caring about someone. To me, love means you’re not leaving, it means you will never leave. All you have to do is let me love you, I’m not asking you to love me back.

It’s been four years, and I have yet to love someone the way I loved her. I keep the bandana still, but it’s hidden away. Not because I’m trying to forget, because I don’t. I’m keeping it because I want to remember. I’m hiding it because it hurts. My dad never really knew Bailey, he never had time. And I’ve talked about her once or twice with my mom when she comes up, like when I bought a hat in a Canadian gas station during a summer road trip, or when my mom found the bandana in the drawer and almost washed it and I cried for three hours, but it seems my mom is starting to forget too. I don’t understand how you could start to forget a person who’s so amazing. I just know that I couldn’t forget. I’ll never forget. I refuse, to forget. 


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