How to say Goodbye
“Evie? Evie Parker?”
At the sound of my name being called, I peeked up from my slouch, having been dragged from my day-dream and into the cold reality.
Wondering what this was about, I sat up. “Yeah?” I instantly groaned inwardly; even to myself I sounded nervous.
Mrs Fletchley fixed her beady eyes on me, and nodded towards the classroom door. “The front office has called for you.”
Glancing around the rest of the students, I noticed a small boy standing at the door, clutching a clipboard and pen, eyeing the rest of the students nervously. Sighing, again wondering what on earth I’d done, I stood up, swinging my bag over my left shoulder and walked from the room. Mrs Fletchley’s eyes followed me all the way to the door. I could practically hear my classmates’ thoughts...what had the suicidal bitch done now? Set a house on fire? Been caught smoking crack on school grounds? Ignoring the already increased chatter and greedy eyes, I followed the boy out of the classroom, but not before noticing Blue; she shot me a look of encouragement, which I pointedly ignored. I was not looking for pity off anyone, not even Blue.
Walking through the school grounds, I caught up to the boy, who it appeared, had been put on reception duty. Wondering what he had done to be put on such a boring, horrible job, I caught up to him. “So,” I said to the boy, sliding into step beside him. “What d’they want me for?” This was also a sincere question on my part, as I was utterly dumbfounded, puzzled and bemused, since I’d been nothing but good recently.
Scrutinizing him, I realized this poor lad was nothing but scared out of his wits. Two years below me by the look of it, thin like a bird with large specs to match. “N-not sure,” he answered, quickly glancing away, unable to obtain eye-contact with me. Huh; seemed like everybody knew about my reputation. Whether it was the truth or lies, I wasn’t sure.
“Well...who sent for me?”
“Mrs. Betts, I guess.”
“Mrs. Betts?” I gaped at him. The head teacher? What on earth did she want me for? Did she even know who I was?
Looking even more nervous than before, the boy flushed and tried hard not to look my way, avoiding my gaze. Wow, was I really that bad?
Passing through corridors and corridors of cheery displays artwork and pictures, we finally arrived at the head’s office, where the boy gladly moved away from me and I was left alone. Taking a deep breath, I entered.
What I saw, however, was something that torn me apart inside. Thorough shock hit me, because this was the last thing that I had expected to see-but yet, it was also my worst fear. Mrs. Castile stood before me, a look of grief etched into the every line of her face. Green eyes met mine, and I saw the pain, pain that I knew and was familiar with.
This could only mean one thing.
“No,” I moaned, rubbing my head, “No!”
Mrs Betts, sat behind her huge desk surveying my reaction to the appearance of Mrs Castile, remained calm and instead stood up slowly. “Miss Parker, it would be easier for all of us if you could just calm down-“
I snapped then; something broke. “Shut up,” I growled. Twirling around, I sort out Mrs Castile’s green eyes desperately. “How long?”
She shook her head, looking so sad. “She could be gone within twenty-four hours.”
Mrs Betts was getting angry. “Really, Miss Parker, sit down at once.”
Ignoring the bitch, I twirled around, throwing my bag to the ground and ran; it would only slow me down. The hospital...it couldn’t be more than a half mile away, surely? I knew the route; I’d taken it every day after school for six months. I could make it-I had to make it.
I couldn’t let Bex die alone...not now.
After what she’d done for me, I owed her that.
Tears streaming down my face, I sobbed noiselessly. People stared, but I didn’t care. All I saw was Bexie-my best friend. We’d been best friends forever...it had only been last year that she’d been diagnosed with cancer...cancer, Oh God. Bexie....cancer; my heart broke in two.
Mrs Castile was her social worker. Bexie had been in and out of care homes forever, and I was the only one that visited her while she’d been ill. Blue and I both. I was the only person she considered family. The only person who cared whether she lived or died
I hated God, then. The Lord, who I’d put all my faith into, whom I prayed to and prayed to...apparently every single one of my prayers meant nothing.
And I ran; losing a bit of myself along the way.
I ignored the rain as it crashed from the heavens and beat down on me. Nothing would slow me down now. What a sight I must have looked: a girl, dressed in nothing but a grey pleated skirt, a blouse and tie, running along the corridors of a hospital, drenched to the bone and crying hopelessly.
I found the room easily. Bexie, sad and sunken, looked like she might as well be already dead. She was asleep; I took that time to watch her. Monitors beeped, and all sorts of tubes were attached to her, but none of that mattered to me. All I saw was her. All I was focused on was her.
Jumping as a hand was clasped around my shoulder, I glanced around to see Doctor Reid, watching me pitifully. He was around sixty, with greying hair and a sharp mind, and I’d learnt to trust him greatly since Bex had been shut up here. “How long?” I whispered, turning my attention back to Bexie. I didn’t have to elaborate; he knew exactly what I meant.
“Not long, I’m afraid. Maybe a day, maybe forty-eight hours.” He sighed heavily, and began reading of the monitors. Not understanding what he was doing, I sat beside Bexie and buried my face into the sheets, thinking of how she had once been. Bexie had once been bright, with shining eyes and long-dark hair. Now, her cheeks were sunken, her eyes hollow, her hair thin and lank. When was the last time she’d been washed properly? Skin and bones was all she was now. This time tomorrow, she could be nothing but an empty body.
“Evie,” Reid said softly.
Rubbing my eyes, I sat up from my slouch, uncovering my eyes. “Yeah?”
“Rebecca has been through a terrible ordeal...and she’s fought every second. But there’s always a time when you can no longer fight it-“
“Please, “I groaned. “Don’t say it.”
He shook his head, rubbing his face. “I won’t. I just want you to know that we’re making this as painless for her as possible, and we’re doing as much for her as possible to buy her more time...I’m just afraid there’s little we can do.”
I didn’t want to hear this...not now.
“She’s waking,” he whispered. I’d missed her stir, but she was, her eyes fluttering.
“I’ll give you some time.”
“Doctor Ried?” I said tentatively.
He stopped and turned around. “Yes?”
“Thank you...for everything.”
He glanced down at Bex who was watching him, now, wide-eyed with a look of gratitude in her eyes, and I realized, with a torn heart, that she’d heard everything. She knew what was to come was inevitable, and she even faced that bravely.
Reid nodded and left.
“The cancer beat me in the end, Evie,” she whispered hoarsely. After all her fighting, I couldn’t quite believe that. I grabbed her hand. “That is not true, Rebecca. How can you say that? You fought it until the end.”
A tear escaped from her eye, and slipped down her cheek. “I’m so scared, Evie.”
“I know, baby, I know, but I prayed to God, Bex, I prayed to God. He’ll look after you.”
She laughed. “Y’think?”
“I know. You’re too good down here, Bex. He wants you up there. He wants you to be an angel.”
Even through everything, my beautiful girl laughed. “I hope so, Evie, I hope so.”
For a moment, we were silent. My cheeks were wet, but I couldn’t go on, now, could I? Crying would only make things worse. Instead, I watched Bex. Her eyes were closed, and she breathed in-out-in-out. I closed my eyes, thinking of her when she wasn’t ill and full of life. I tried to grasp hold of those memories, not wanting to forget them. I didn’t want to remember Bex as a living skeleton, grasping onto the bit of life she had left.
Still with eyes closed, she murmured, “Evie?”
“Make sure you don’t cry at my funeral, yeah?”
I kissed her hand. “Never,” I promised.
“I want you to tell stories that will make everyone laugh. I don’t want everyone to cry. I want everyone to remember me before the cancer.”
“And tell Blue I love her, OK?”
I tightened my hold on her. “Blue will be up here, later.”
“I might be gone later.”
“Don’t you say that, don’t you say that!”
Rebecca was silent for a moment, eyes still closed. “Evie?
Still mad, I grunted.
“Don’t let this spoil your life.”
I was quiet at this, knowing what she meant but not wanting to acknowledge it.
“I mean it,” she murmured as fiercely as she could. “You’re living for me now, Evie. You’re living for both of us. Don’t take your own life.”
I kissed her hand. “I’m so sorry I never got to save your life like you did for me.”
“Evie,” she sighed. “You returned every favour by just being here.”
As she slept, I sobbed, my heart finally being torn apart.
When I woke up, it was nightfall, my hand still gripping Bexie’s, but this time hers was slack. I scanned her sleeping frame...she looked almost....peaceful. Something wasn’t right. Her breathing...what was that horrible beeping sound...the monitor...why wasn’t she breathing!
“No!” Having had been preparing myself for so many months, I still was not braced for the departure. “Bex,” I moaned, gently shaking her shoulder. “Bexie, wake-up!” She couldn’t be gone, not Bexie, not beautiful Bexie...
Gentle hands dragged me away, and I was looking into the eyes of Doctor Reid. “No,” I sobbed.
“She’s gone, Evie,” he whispered, and I could see tears streaming down his face.