Short Story #1

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Definitely needs some editing. Feedback?

Submitted: November 25, 2014

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Submitted: November 25, 2014



 Katie Lancaster lay in her hospital bed, chemotherapy liquids surging through her veins like a replacement blood. Her childhood friends, Charles Harding and Maria Caylee, were on either side of her, urging her to wake from her treatment-induced slumber. On any other occasion, Katie would have looked as though she was Sleeping Beauty, her blond hair flowing down her back, her mouth parted in a perfect ‘o’. But this was not any occasion. Maria’s pale face was stained with tears, her green eyes glimmering in the dim hospital lights. Charles, who under any other circumstance is stoic, fought back horrible sobs. Over the past eight months since Katie was diagnosed, her loved ones have desperately tried all treatment in the hope she would heal over time. But none of it was enough to give them hope. The tumor has only grown, and it is too far gone now for normal medication and treatment. Chemotherapy is the only option left, and has been for five months now. It has given Katie very brief remissions, much like the last, which gave her breathing room for a week. However, when the tumor yet again grew, the chemo became even more intense, and slowly tore Katie apart.

A few hours after treatment, Katie finally opened her eyes. They glistened as though she had been crying. Charles noticed she was awake first.

“Katie,” Charles said quietly, “How are you feeling?”

“Like hell,” she laughed, “Hot and gross and totally sick.”

Charles and Maria exchanged glances. They weren’t sure how she could joke about her cancer that way. “Because I won’t let my cancer become me.” She had once said. But they still did not understand. After a while, Charles just nodded and took Katie’s hand. Maria held the other tightly. Katie knew what they were doing. It was something she remembered well.

* * *

“Oh no!” Six-year old Katie cried. “Maria, you have to get better.”

Maria sniffled, “I’m sorry. I want to. But this is my daddy’s fault. He was sick yesterday.” Maria frowned. Charles laughed.

“Charlie, come here.”


“We have to make Maria feel better,” Katie grabbed Maria’s left hand, “Grab her other hand.” Charles rolled his eyes, but took Maria’s hand anyway.

“Now,” Katie laughed, “Please, please, Maria, please get better. See,” she gestured to their hands, “We’re giving you our healthy energy. That’s what’s gonna help you get better.” They all laughed. But after that day, it was a “ritual”. Whenever one of them was ill, the other two would hold their hands and help to give “healthy energy” to their ill friend. It was something Katie couldn’t forget.

* * *

She smiled as they did her ritual now. “Thanks for the hope guys,” Katie waved a finger in the air, “But you must know it is all for naught.”

Charles shook, a tear escaping as he struggled to keep himself under control.

“Please don’t talk that way Katie,” he pleaded, “You’re alive now, see, and I know you can hold on for a while longer.”

“If only that were true,” Katie smiled weakly and closed her eyes as Charles spouted small words of hope, but all three of them knew the truth. As of late, the chemo has been tearing Katie’s body apart, causing episodes far worse than they once were. Katie coughed violently, as if a harbinger was reassuring her friends that there was no hope of fixing her. As she removed her hand, blood covered her palm. They looked at each other in silence.

Questions raced through everyone’s mind. Maria closed her eyes, unable to keep from sobbing.

* * *

Maria was turning three. For her and her family, it was a wonderful day. The only thing that upset Maria was not getting to see Katie on her special day. Katie’s family was going on a trip, to some national park or other, when all Maria wanted have was Katie over for her birthday.

Maria had always been a smart girl. She was always quick to think and react, making it almost impossible to trick her. So Katie had to think carefully. Once Maria was on the bus for daycare, Katie got ready for the big surprise. She gathered Maria’s present and the note she had her mom write, and with her father, walked over to Maria’s house at exactly 12:35. She was greeted at the door buy Maria’s mother, who was delighted by the surprise and gladly allowed Katie into her home. Katie put the present in Maria’s room and hid in her closet. Katie’s father had left, as he did not want to ruin Katie’s big moment. At 12:45, Maria’s tiny preschool bus dropped her off, and she went to her room after kissing her mother hello. Once Maria was looking at her present, Katie jumped out and yelled, “Surprise!”

The birthday girl screamed, falling down. At first she was terrified, but when she realized it was only Katie she smiled and laughed. Katie walked over and helped her to her feet, pulling her into the tightest embrace her small arms could.

“I love ya, sissy. Happy birthday!”

The memory had always made Maria smile. Now, it only made her sob.

* * *

Once the coughing had subsided and Katie’s hand was cleaned, Maria finally began to calm down. Still terrified of the possibilities, but no longer in tears, she held her head high as the doctors checked Katie’s conditions. They concluded she was not ready to return home, as she was still quite weak. Charles and Maria thanked them as they were leaving and took their places by Katie’s bedside once again.

“Hey Katie,” Charles chimed in, “Remember when we went to Rhode Island?”

Katie laughed, “Summer after seventh grade. How could I forget? We all got on that party boat thing.”

“Yeah,” Maria smiled, “And Charlie got pie in the face.”

Katie held up her hand to Charles’ face, “Right in the face. All mushy and gross.”

They all laughed. For a while, it seemed as though things were normal. But when Katie’s machines began to buzz and whir violently, each of them remembered that in this twisted world, nothing was normal. Katie’s body began to act on its own, flopping as though she was a fish out of water.

“Katie! Katie, it will be okay. Calm down. I’m going to call a nurse.” Maria hit the emergency call button over and over, as if that would make aid come faster.

“Guys,” Katie yelped, “It hurts. It really, really hurts.” She held her head, giving her friends and agonized look. Eventually her machines began to slow down, almost to a stopping point. Her eyes began to get heavy, and her breathing thinned.

“Just know..... I love you guys.”

At that moment, a team of doctors rushed in, ushering Charles and Maria out of the room. As the two sat waiting, terrified, outside the room, they spoke in hushed voices over their tears.

“I need her to be okay,” Maria sobbed, “I can’t deal with losing my best friend.”

Charles said nothing. It wasn’t like him to cry. He only willed himself to stop and begged any god above to save his dying friend.

* * *

Though the sun was getting ready to sleep for the night, there was still a handful of children out and about. Charles Harding was among them, sitting by the water’s edge alone. The setting sun emitted light that danced playfully across the clear blue water, making it look of an orange hue. Small flowers swayed in a breeze that told you summer was about to end.

“Hey silly,” a small girl, about five, spoke, “What are you doing over here by yourself?”

She had a friend with her. The girl who had spoken had red, straight hair, which she would later dye blonde before her fourteenth birthday. Her eyes were deep brown. The other had dark brown hair and glistening green eyes. Charles had never seen these girls before and was surprised they chose to speak with him.

“Helloooooo?” The red-head chimed, “Earth to introvert.”

That made Charles laugh. A little girl knew such a big word. But, he supposed that was what he was. Though he was only seven, he chose not to talk much. People didn’t understand, but this girl did. He knew she was different.

“Sit,” he said to her, “I’m Charles.”

“Charles?” She sat next to him, having her friend sit too. “Imma call you Charlie. My name’s Katelyn, but everyone calls me Katie.”

Katie. His approacher now had a name. And her friend?

“And this is my best friend, Maria.”

Charles nodded, for once, he decided to carry on a conversation. Him and the girls talked for hours, until they had to go home for pasta.

“Oh, and Charlie?” Katie added, “We’re gonna be best friends. I know it.”

* * *

The doctors slowly exited Katie’s room, giving the pair of distressed friends sad looks.

“In a matter of minutes she won’t be stable anymore. We’re sorry to say..... but you need to say goobye.” The woman seemed unaffected by the news, but the two didn’t blame her. It was her job. It was what she did. They just nodded and went to see their friend for the final time.

“Katie,” Charles choked, “Katie, we love you.”

“And we know you need to go....”  Maria added, “And it’s alright. Let go. We love you.”

“I love you, too. And dying? It feels like floating. No pain. Only bliss,” A smile formed on her lips, “You too are wonderful friends. Don’t get hung up on me. Start a new life. I love you.” Her machines buzzed quietly, slowly, and then stopped. And her eyes closed for the final time.

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