This is how it has been since I refused to accept treatment three days ago. My father spent his time trying to yell and threaten me into chemotherapy while my mom just wept. I honestly felt bad for the both of them; they were undoubtedly going to lose their only child, but what was I supposed to do? Spend the remainder of my pathetic life in a hospital bed hooked up to God knows how many wires? No, that’s just not my style.
The doctor had even tried guilt tripping me into staying.
“No, I’m not going to die unhappy. I’m not staying here. No way.” I had said with a quick nod, showing I had made up my mind. My eyes flew to the quiet boy in the corner of my room. He had always been a man to me, but right now his hunched shoulders and painful, desperate eyes reminded me of a scared little boy.
[/“Miss Mason, you will die in the next six months or so if you refuse treatment.” The doctor said seriously.
[/“And if I accept the chemo? What are my chances then?” I shot back.
[/“Chemotherapy is not always one hundred percent effective, Miss. I can only assure a twenty-five percent chance of full recovery at this point. But do you honestly want to put your family through this?”
[/I gaped at him. How dare he try to guilt me into accepting treatment? “This is none of your damn business! I am a legal adult and I’ll decide where I’d like to wither away!” I said, standing up to him, literally.
[/He opened his mouth to reply but quickly shut it at the same time I felt strong hands on my shoulders. Catcher. No wonder the doctor finally shut his fat mouth; Catcher had some deadly glares.
[/“Come on Em, let’s go home.” He said tiredly. I nodded and left the room with him, my mother in tow. I glanced back to see the doctor shake his head disapprovingly.
“Dad, please stop. I don’t want to argue about this anymore. I’m going to see Catcher. I’ll be back later okay?” I was desperate to leave this house. I hadn’t even had the chance to really think about what had occurred at the doctor’s office three days ago.
My dad let out a heavy sigh but waved me away all the same. “Alright, I’m sorry Emmy.” I smiled at the nickname. He was the only one that had ever been allowed to call me Emmy.
“It’s okay. I love you Dad.” I said while hugging him tight. This couldn’t be easy on him.
I walked over to my mom and placed my hand on her shoulder as I watched the tears leak from her eyes.
“Mom, please stop crying. I promise everything will be alright.” I tried to sooth her but it didn’t help. She began to sob harder and I had no idea what to do.
“Just go see Catcher, Emmy. I’ll take care of your mother.” My father said with a sad smile. I nodded and dashed out of the front door. I needed to go talk to Catch, he would be able to help me make sense of this entire situation.
I walked down the deserted sidewalk towards my best friend’s house thinking about the past few days. I was still optimistic about the entire situation which probably meant that it hadn’t truly sunken in yet that I would be dead in six months tops.
I opened his front door, barely making it past the entryway before I was engulfed in a hug. I gasped from the impact but relaxed when I realized it was only Lisa, Catcher’s mother.
“Oh, honey I’m so sorry! Catcher told me what happened. I wanted to come see you but he told me to give you some time. I love you so much Embry!” Her voice broke when she said my name and I pulled back to see tears in her eyes.
“Mom, please leave her be.” I turned and gasped at the sight of my best friend. Catcher was dressed in what looked to be three day old sweats and a ratty tee shirt. His eyes were slightly sunken in and dark circles encompassed them. His face was scruffy from not shaving and he looked absolutely exhausted.
I pulled away from his mother and just stared at him as he did the same. She quietly excused herself, giving me one final quick hug before hurrying into the kitchen.
I couldn’t help myself as I closed the space between us and threw my arms around his neck. He froze for a moment but hugged me back tightly. I chose to ignore the heat that spread through my body so as not to ruin the moment.
“God Catch, you look like shit.” I muttered into his neck. His frame shook lightly with laughter as he pulled away.
“Well, thanks Em. You look great too.” He rolled his eyes sarcastically and grabbed my hand before hauling me up the stairs towards his room.
I ripped my hand from his and leapt onto his massive bed. I rolled onto my side as he laid down beside me laughing at my antics.
Snuggling my face into his sleek black pillow, I inhaled and smiled. He always smelled so good. That’s probably what I would miss most; his smell. I know it probably sounds weird but it was comforting. Catch has always been right at my side, through thick and thin, and when he wasn’t, the shirts or hoodies that I’d borrow were a temporary replacement. I had covered it up by telling him that his hoodies were warmer than mine or that I hadn’t done laundry and need to borrow a tee shirt. Reality was though, I loved him and his scent… and I needed it like a drug. It somehow managed to calm me down when my anxiety set in and he couldn’t be with me in person.
I had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder when I was seven. Doctors had tried several different medications and while a few worked from time to time, Catcher’s presence was the only consistent remedy.
That being said, I had wondered why I had remained so calm about my impending doom. I must be in shock or something. Yes, I’m sure that was it.
“Em, dear.” Catch whispered. “You’re a million miles away.” I opened my eyes to see him staring at me. I hadn’t even felt his arm lay across my waist until then either.
I sighed. “Catch, is it bad that I’m not even worried about this?”
He looked at me oddly before replying. “Well, yes. Why aren’t you worried?”
“I’m not too sure. Maybe it just hasn’t sunk in yet.” He was quiet for a moment and closed his eyes. “I’m so scared Em. I can’t loose you. I just-I don’t-I don’t know how to live without you. I love you. You can’t leave me.” I felt like a knife had been thrust into my chest and wrenched from side to side. The heartbroken look that settled in his beautiful eyes made me want to slit my own wrists for being so aloof.
His grip on me tightened as he buried his face into my neck and breathed deeply. He only did that when he was fighting his emotions which rarely happened. I hugged him back, sniffing away the tears.
“I’m so sorry Catch. I wouldn’t ever leave you if I didn’t have to. Please know that I would never leave you.” I pleaded.
He groaned before looking at me with a painful expression. “Then don’t leave me! Em, you have a choice! Take the treatment. Please, Em. Please.”
The look in his eyes was the thing that finally made the tears fall. “Catch, I can’t spend the rest of my life in a hospital! If I’m going to die in six months, I want to live as much as I can before it happens. I’ll be absolutely miserable in a hospital and you know it!”
“But there’s a chance that it will work and in six months you’ll be cancer free!” He tried desperately. He knew when my mind was made up.
“A twenty-five percent chance, Catch.” I whispered. “That’s just not enough.”
I managed to choke the words out before I finally broke. I sobbed into his chest while he just held me. I felt small droplets run down the side of my face as I realized he was also crying. Silently crying unlike me.
My entire chest was heavy and I felt like my heart was being tortured. I hated knowing that Catch was in pain because of me but I knew for a fact that it would kill him having to see me in a hospital like he would.
“I’m s-so sor-r-y Catcher. So-so sorry. I wish- wish-“ I tried to tell him that I wanted things to be different but just couldn’t. I couldn’t articulate the right words to him. The boy I was whole heartedly in love with. The boy I would soon be leaving. The boy that was holding me as I cried into his chest while he also cried.
“Shh Em. I know honey, this isn’t your fault. I’m not going to force you into something you don’t want. I promise, now calm down. Shh.” He cooed into my ear, trying to soothe me. His comforting words broke my heart but I did, in fact, begin to calm down.
He rubbed my back in slow circles as my breathing slowed. I couldn’t keep this up. Crying over a disease? That just wasn’t my style and I wouldn’t allow myself to bring Catcher down with me. I needed something that would keep both of our minds off of this… permanently.
“Catch, can we go somewhere? I don’t want to stay here.” He gave me an odd look but nodded all the same.
“Sure, Em. Where do you want to go?”
I sighed. “I don’t know. But I don’t want to spend the next six months inside our houses. That’s almost just as bad as the damn hospital.”
A thought ran through my head and I immediately flew from his bed, heading towards his messy closet. “What the hell Embry?”
“Hang on!” I shouted from inside his closet. Moments later I emerged with our box; the box that we had kept everything pertaining to our friendship in since we had met. There were photos, notes from class, letters, trinkets, everything.
I ran my hand over the dusty lid and placed it gently on the bed.
“Why did you pull this out?” He asked curiously. I shot him a grin but just rummaged through the box wordlessly.
“Em come on, just tell me what you’re-“ I cut him off by shoving a piece of crinkled paper into his hands.
In response to his quizzical glance, I opened it up. He must not have remembered.
He rolled his eyes. “I know what this is Embry, I’m not stupid. I just don’t know why you are showing it to me.”
“Because Catch, that’s how you and I are going to spend the next six months. I don’t want treatment, so let’s make the most of the rest of my life.”
He waved the paper in front of my face. “This, this Bucket List, is how you want to spend the next six months? You want to actually do this stuff?”
“Yes I really do.”
“But how will we get the money? Honey, this list involves a lot of travel. We both have jobs and-“
“My college fund will cover everything.” Catcher and I had decided to take a year off in between graduation and our first year at a university so save some money and, well, goof off. I had managed to save quite a bit working two jobs, as did Catch. However, seeing as I wouldn’t even be going, this was how I wanted to spend it.
He cringed at my words knowing exactly what I meant.
“And your job is shit. You’ve been wanting to quit for months now. Please, Catch?” I begged, sticking my lip out and making the puppy dog eyes.
“Goddammit Embry! Not the eyes… fine! Fine! We’ll go on a damn Bucket List Trip.”
I lunged at him, making us both fall over onto the bed laughing.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I squealed.
“Yeah yeah. But now we just have to convince our parents.”
“Psh, we are both legal adults.” I tried to wave it off but we both knew our age didn’t matter. Bottom line, if either of our mothers said no, it was a damn no.