They're gathered around my bed again. Mom, Phil, and Johnathan. Johnathan and Mom each hold my hand, and my stepfather sits in a chair at the side of my bed.
"Are you ready, Maria?" Dr. Beard says. Two nurses are positioned at the end of my bed, holding needles filled with liquid, liquid that will bring my death. My hand starts to shake, steadied only by Johnathan.
"No." I say. Tears well in my eyes. "Yes, I-" I broke down, sobbing. My whole body shook, trembled. My mother was crying now, large, fat tears rolling down her cheeks. Small tears drip down Johnathan's, and he won't look at me. He stares blankly at the wall, massaging my hand with his thumb.
My eyesight blurs until the nurses standing at the foot of my bed seem to melt into the wall, their crisp white uniforms blending into the pasty cream of the wall.
A hand reaches up, and gently clears the tears from my eyes.
"Thanks, mom." I croak.
"You're welcome, sweetheart," she whispers, softly stroking my cheek with her hand.
"Maria, are you ready?" The doctor says again. I look away from my mother's hand and up at the nurses, who are now standing behind my mother and Johnathan.
"You already asked me this." I say sourly. I gaze around the room the best I can, catching glances of my stepfather, my mother, Johnathan. His gaze has turned now, staring directly at me, drinking me in. My parents are too, just staring at me with loving eyes. I try to return the expression they give me, attempt to express my love in the few minutes I have left.
"I-" My throat seems to have dried up, and any words that I want to say only come out as gasping, choking sounds.
"I love-" I can't quite form my sentence, but they get it.
"I love you too." Johnathan says, kissing my forehead lightly.
"I love you too." My mother says, kissing my cheek and crushing me in a hug. "I-I love you so much. So, so much, Maria." She sat back, beginning to sob again.
"I love you too, Maria." My stepfather says. He comes into my view now, and I can fully see his red, tear-soaked face. "And I-I'm sorry I was so- so harsh to you. I re-really did care for you." He sits back down, his face in his hands.
"I forgive you." I rasp out. "I love you all."
I glance up at the nurse. "I'm ready now." I say, tears sliding down my face.
I feel the needle push into my shoulder.
"It'll take a few minutes for the medicine to set in." Dr. Beard says, laying a comforting hand that isn't really at all comforting
I use my last few moments to simply look at everyone. Johnathan, Mom, Phil. I attempt to speak, but my mouth feels filled with cotton. My eyelids slowly fall closed, my breathing slows. The last sounds I hear are the snuffling tears of my family and love.
And then I can't hear anything.