For once in my life learning didn’t seem worth it. I didn’t want to get up, and I didn’t want to go to school. I wanted to burn my notebooks, filled with useless notes and I just wanted to give up because that’s what we were doing now.
That was what my mom was asking us to do, as a family.
She was asking us to /give up/.
We’d never done that before. We had always had something to look forward to, something to work towards. I couldn’t remember a time in my life that my mother wasn’t fighting. It had absorbed whoever I’d been before. I didn’t know how to give up. I didn’t know how to not try, or look at new studies… or hope for discovering a cure. It was my entire reasoning for wanting to go to med-school. I wanted to save people. I wanted to help give them a reason to keep trying. I didn’t want anyone to just /give up/.
But if we were giving up, then everything I’d ever worked towards meant nothing. There was nothing anywhere that meant anything.
I couldn’t reason that in my head.
I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to.
The day dragged on and Juliet didn’t appear anywhere. After a few classes in which I actually tried to pay attention and gather Juliet’s assignments I became unable to focus and headed out to my car.
I actually took the time to think over my actions before starting my car and heading in the direction of Juliet’s house. I knew she was pissed at me, and chances were she wouldn’t even listen to me when I showed up but I had to try. If I didn’t try then I’d get nowhere, but if I at least tried I had a 50/50 shot to making something work with her and that’s what I wanted. I wanted her. I’d never wanted something so badly, and I was a pretty desire filled guy.
“Oh Brendon, dear why aren’t you in school?” It was Juliet’s mother who answered the door. She was dressed up, and looked like an older, thinner version of Juliet. It wasn’t that Juliet wasn’t thin… her mother was just very thin- sick thin. Juliet had never really talked about her mother’s sickness with me though, I knew very little.
“It’s lunch.” It wasn’t entirely a lie. It was our lunch period currently, but I wasn’t going back when my time ran out- not if Juliet would have me. Well, even if she told me to get lost I still wouldn’t go back. “I was hoping to see Juliet.”
“I think that’s a good idea.” I received a warm smile, but the smile quickly slipped. “She could use a friend right now.” The hint was clear enough.
I nodded, “That’s me.” I cleared my throat awkwardly, “I’m a friend.”
She didn’t say anything as she moved away, and then I awkwardly decided to head to Juliet’s room. She had basically given me the green light, and I knew where her room was so…
Knocking was the polite thing to do, right? So I knocked. I knocked, and then I knocked again- then I waited, but heard nothing. So I started opening the door, slowly moving forward. Juliet had her blanket pulled up around her, and she was sitting up in bed. She didn’t even look at me as I entered.
“Hi.” I awkwardly spoke, sitting on the edge of Juliet’s bed. “I’ve been a dick of a boyfriend, so today I kind of just wanted to be a friend. Is that okay?”
Juliet looked at me in surprise. “Friend?”
“Friend.” I even held out my hand, for a handshake. That’s what friends did, right? No, that was strangers. She still took hold of my hand though- it was just for a second but it was a sign that I was going in the right direction and that was something I needed to know before I continued to make a complete fool of myself.
I was out of my element. With Juliet, I always had been.
“So I brought some assignments, and I scribbled down some notes… and I really have no idea what you missed today, but I tried.” I set my book bag on the floor and remained sitting on the edge of the bed.
“I’ve been too hard on you.” Juliet whispered. “It’s not like I’m a saint.”
“You’re pretty fucking close.” I replied.
Juliet laughed humorously, “Ryan said I didn’t have a heart and he’s wrong. He’s so wrong.” She shook her head, and the tears built too quickly. I didn’t even have a proper warning. “I just happen to have walls built up, and I can’t let those walls crumble… I can’t just leave myself all exposed like that. I can’t.”
I nodded, listening intently. Juliet was definitely quite guarded, but why?
She looked directly at me, and I saw those walls tumble down. Despite whatever she thought, she was unguarded now and I saw it. “Do you believe in second chances?”
“I- I guess I have to.”
“Because that’s the only way I’d ever get you to stay. I’d need a second chance for that, and I know- I know if given one I’d make it up to you.” It was a promise I hoped to be able to keep.
“Do you think that God gives second chances, with … life?” She looked so scared, and honestly the question scared me.
“Why?” I took her arms in to a tight grip as I looked down in panic. The first thought that crossed my mind was that she was cutting, as some kids at our school did. The thought terrified me but I looked everywhere and found nothing. There were no open wounds in sight.
Juliet didn’t even try to pull away as she gazed in to my eyes. Hers had dimmed. They were dark and dead, and it was like she didn’t even care. She was at rag doll status. “What’d you do Juliet?” I was scared. Was it pills? Drugs? Cuts somewhere more hidden?
“I don’t have the courage to do this.” Juliet whispered, as she fell against me. I let go of her arms and held her gently, trying to just ‘be there’ for her. It was hard when inside I was panicking. “I just want things to be okay. I don’t want her to have to fight, but I don’t want her to give up either because… if she gives up… if we give up then it’s just over. It’s over, and I’m not ready for that. I’m not ready to lose her, and I’m afraid. I’m so afraid that it’s over.” Juliet rested her head on my shoulder as she started crying. “My mom’s cancer is back and this time she won’t fight, and it’s going to kill her.”
I didn’t know what to say.
So I didn’t say anything.
And Juliet cried.
She cried, and cried- and it hurt. It did hurt because there was nothing I could do to make her feel better and I just wanted her to feel better. I didn’t want her to have to hurt, but I couldn’t save her from this. I could only be here, and listen.
“I hate myself right now.” Juliet whispered in to my ear, “And I should forgive you Brendon. I should forgive you for all of this because God knows I’m not perfect but I can’t. I just can’t. I can’t forgive you.”
I couldn’t really forgive myself either, but that was the pain of being in love with someone.
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