[the changes are all made for the new idea/conflict. They're subtle, but distinct to the plotline.]
I felt like a rock. Not in a physical sense. I was more fragile than a snowflake when it came to my physical being. I was an emotional rock, a robot programmed not to frown, cry, furrow my brow in grief…nothing. It wasn’t because I didn’t feel emotions. On the contrary. I was feeling thousands of emotions at that moment. Shock, pain, grief, confusion, and above all amazement. I was amazed at how short life can be. I was amazed at how much my life was out of control at this very moment. But mostly, I was amazed at the girl sitting next to me, the expression on her face the exact same as the night she informed me of Olive’s death. It was smooth and blank, her eyes glazed over and her mouth in a perfect line. At this point, I felt that if she could keep this calm façade, that I could too.
So there I sat, determined, with Kaylee to my left and my sister, Gwen, to my right. Gwen didn’t even need to be there. She hardly knew the girl, but she knew how hard this would be for me. Gwen was my rock when I failed to be one myself. I snuck a glance at my rock and there she was, tears rolling down her rosy cheeks. For a brief moment, I was jealous of how openly she expressed her feelings. But then I looked to my left and found Kaylee staring straight ahead of me at the shiny, mahogany coffin, face white and hard, almost like marble. This was even more heart-wrenching than seeing her cry, because crying meant that emotion was actually registering in her brain. This face was a face that told me clearly that nothing was connecting. Everything was as jumbled and panicked as the day of the incident.
Slowly and tentatively, I wrapped my arm around her shoulders and squeezed gently, trying to let her know that everything was going to be okay. I looked at her face. Still nothing. This continued until the end of the service, when we were allowed to leave. I signaled to Gwen that she could leave and that I had everything under control. But everything wasn’t under control. I was on the verge of uncontrollable tears. On top of our patchy friendship, I kept on thinking "what if this was Kaylee’s funeral? Or Celeste’s?" I didn’t want to think about it. Olive was a friend. But she wasn’t so much apart of my life like Kaylee was, well, at least used to be. She used to be my better half, and seeing her in this state was almost worse than if it was her own funeral. At least then I would know she was in a better place. The face she sported now was completely void, and probably had little to do with Olive's funeral.
Like everything so far in our High School life, I was pretty sure this face was all thanks to him.
Kaylee eventually stood up and I followed suit. I watched her carefully and tailed her as she made her way to the coffin. She put one hand on top of it, and closed her eyes. I was far enough away that I couldn’t tell if she let a tear escape her eyelids. If she did, she was very good at hiding it, because as soon as she came close enough for me to see, her face was as perfectly dry and smooth as before. Something in the pit of my stomach knotted at the thought that she was perfectly calm. Why is it the person who wasn’t actually present during Olive's death trying so hard not to cry while the witness remains as expressionless as a statue? I shook it off, using the state of shock as an excuse for her lack of emotion once again.
“Want me to drive you home?” I didn’t know if she was capable of driving. But she shook her head, and looked at me.
“No. I think I can handle it…”
I began to walk away, hoping to hear any word of gratitude...but nothing.
I left, though, not thinking anything of it. Our friendship was a little patchy nowadays. Wripped at the seams one too many times, the repair job was bound to be questionable. But at least I had tried to sew it back up.
I drove home from the cemetery, pondering all that had happened in a few short weeks. She had died, he was comatose, and my used-to-be-best friend was a mindless robot, doing the bare minimum to survive. How can everything go spiraling out of control in a matter of days?
I parked, facing the hospital. The clouds to the south were beginning to roll in, creating the perfect mood for what I was feeling. I wasn’t sure when I began crying. It was probably sometime between the moment I almost got into a wreck at an intersection and the time I realized that I could’ve died at that particular moment. But I wasn’t entirely sure. Everything was a blur to me. I was beginning to doubt that I actually attended a funeral. Why was I a puddle of emotion while my best friend was cooler than an autumn day? I began to loathe my lack of self-control and tried to compose myself before I entered the building in front of me.
Hospitals were the pinnacle of depression. I have never had a good experience at a hospital. Today wasn’t going to be any different. It would be if the reason I was going there was to retrieve a recently-cured relative or friend. But this particular person wasn’t in there to be cured. In fact, there have been speculations as to whether he was going to survive or not. This thought did not help my mood at all. I suppressed a sob, and began wiping frantically at my eyes. He wouldn’t want to see me in this state. It would make the situation worse. That is, if he could see me.
A few minutes later, my face was relatively normal looking, no odd puffing of the eyes or flushed cheeks. My eyes were slightly bloodshot from all the tears, but there was a huge chance that he wouldn’t be conscious today. If he would be conscious. Ever. I slowly opened the door of my car, and stepped out. My feet fell one after the other in front of me, carrying me toward the entrance, through the door, and to the main desk. The nice secretary behind the counter pointed me in the right direction of his room, and I walked there, my head spinning.
His room was dark and quiet. Nothing stirred except the monitors that sat next to his bed. I looked at them for a minute, trying to understand what they said about his status. From what I saw, it didn’t look good, but what did I know? They could actually mean that he was close to recovering and that it would be a few days before he was released. Yes. That was it. He was going to be better. No more negative thoughts. He was going to live and he was going to be his happy self again. Death was out of the question. Or was it? I moved to the side of his bed and looked straight down into his face. Unscathed, it looked as if he were sleeping. Not suffering from intense pain, not battling for life. Just sleeping, anticipating the moment he would wake and get on with life. My brow furrowed in an attempt to stem the tears. Who was I kidding? Why was I trying to think so optimistically when it was clear that after suffering afflictions like that, only a few people could survive? I was only setting myself up for more grief.
I reached down and put my hand on the top of his head, willing him to wake. My eyes closed. I couldn’t stand looking at him anymore. It was more than I could bear. Then, all of a sudden, I began to realize the focal point of Kaylee’s grief, if that’s what you called that emotion spread across her face. It wasn’t the funeral we attended, it wasn’t the fact that she could be dead too. It was the broken body that lay on this hospital bed, awaiting death’s verdict. It was this boy, for he was only just a boy that could have his life taken away from him quicker than the speed of light.
My hand quickly withdrew from his head and I stared at him, not sure if I was more astonished at my realization or angry. This changed everything. It was this boy that could change the state of mine and Kaylee's friendship in a heartbeat. If he survived, the remnants of mine and Kaylee's friendship would disappear. If he died, I still had a chance at keeping the friendship I worked so hard to preserve. But why was I thinking this? Why was I hoping for the death of my friend? My hand tingled where it was touching his hair, his skin, his body. Suddenly, the room was too small, and I needed to get out of there. I bolted from the room as soon as I could, and made it to my car in record time. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I felt like screaming and keeping my mouth shut at the exact same time, and my body was itching to run yet stay put.
What happened to being normal?
[thanks for reading.