By: Says TB

Night Walk

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I pick up the phone. "Hello?"

"Kari, I need to see you tonight." 

"Why? Takeru, what's wrong?" 

"I need to talk to you. Come out." 

"Is it another night walk again?" 

"Yeah."

The sky is as black as a Chinese man's pot of ink. There is not a star to grant any wishes, only the moon outlining the earth in a hopeless ghostly grey. The streets are completely empty with the exception of a few cars every now and then; but the sidewalks are totally bare. The wind picks up again, ruffling my hair in aimless directions. It swirls around the trees in the park, and they dance to the rhythm of the breeze. Far off in the distance, I hear the faint, soft, calming sound of a wind-chime.

Ding, dong, ding, it chimes delicately. Ding, dong, ding, like the sound of shattering glass.

I rub my hands together for warmth and look around at my surroundings. Where is he? He said he had something important he wanted to talk about – something that left hollowness in his voice. Something that was too important to talk over the phone; something he needed to tell me in person.

I find it unusual, having known him since the dawn of time and staying by his side till the end of eternity, to hear him in such a serious state of mind. I had a sicken sensation in my stomach the instant I picked up that phone. Either way, I have a feeling I'm going to lose something, somehow tonight.

I see his figure coming towards me. I can always tell if it's him just by looking at the way the person walks. Only Takeru's walk do I recognize; his famous penguin walk. I jog towards him and greet him with a smile and a hug, for I had a feeling that that was to be my only smile this night.

"So, what's up?" I ask in an exultant tone, trying to break the thick sense of sadness in the air. 

He doesn't answer; instead, he gently clasps my hands and leads us down our first street of the night.

I remain silent and just lean against his shoulder listening to our footsteps drumming on the vacant sidewalk.

We're walking slower this time.

Takeru isn't usually open with his feelings and hardly ever reveals his emotional side – a guy thing perhaps. But I respect him, and wait patiently until he's ready to talk.

He's quieter, and our conversation kicks off a lot slower, hinting that this was something pretty serious. Finally, when we turn the corner, he speaks, his voice a bit raspy. "Hikari," he says, and I'm shocked that he calls me by my full name. "I think this'll be our last night walk."

I stop and raise an eyebrow. "Why?"

He hesitates as if resisting to tell me.

"Why, Takeru?"

He looks straight ahead and then weakly pulls my arm. "Come, let's go to the pier."

I hate it when he does that. He would lead me on and then hold my suspense as it rips me apart inside. But he's shy, and he takes time when talking about serious matters; only, this one seemed really bad, and I couldn't respect his shyness this time.

I grab his shoulder and pull him back in an attempt to get him to tell me. He stumbles a bit and I hear him let out a painful groan. "What's wrong?" I immediately ask, knowing that that wasn't a hard pull.

"Nothing," he replies continuing to walk, slower this time.

I narrow my eyes. "Whatever," I say, pushing him.

He easily loses his balance and falls on the grass.

I gasp and kneel down, guilt swimming all over me. I pat him softly, confused at his unsteadiness. "Takeru, Takeru what's wrong?" I can hear my voice shaking.

His face is scrunched up as if he was pain and in the pale moonlight, I can see sweat like crystal droplets dripping from the sides of his forehead. He struggles to sit up and I help him, being extremely cautious this time.

I bite my bottom lip and blurt out, "I'm sorry!"

"D-Don't w-worry," he tells me.

"Takeru, what's going on? Why did you call me out here tonight?" I search his eyes for an answer but he looks down shamefully. "Takeru, I'm listening. Just tell me please, so I can help. What's with you?"

He ignores me and shakily tries to stand up.

I reach out for him and help him up. "Is something wrong with your leg?"

He looks away. "The pier's not that far. Come, let's walk."

This time, I don't try to hold him back, afraid he'll collapse again. He leans on me for support for the first time in our lives and limps towards the sound of the waves. I know there's something wrong with him, but I also know that he's not yet ready to tell me. And as I die in suspense, I fear he's about to die from pain.

I can feel his grip on my hand strengthening with every second that passes us by, and I can hear him try to keep in his groans. When we finally reach the pier, he scrambles for a bench to sit on. I slowly help him down and eagerly wait for him to speak.

He looks down at me and his face is as gloomy as a dreary rainy day. He brings his fingers to my face and softly traces my features as if trying to remember every detail.

I grasp his hand and clutch it caringly in my own. "Takeru, you're worrying me."

And then finally, he reveals it in one blunt, frank answer. "I have Osteosarcoma."

I linger in confusion. "W-What's that?"

"It's a type of cancer."

A warm sensation fills my eyes and I instantly feel my mouth trembling, my words coming out like gibberish. "W-Wha, wha... whatdoyoumean?"

"It gives me leg problems, knee problems... actually," he chuckles, "I'm not supposed to be out here right now..."

I cup his chin and turn him towards me. "Why didn't you tell me earlier?" I ask him in a serious tone.

He pushes my hand away. "Didn't want you to know. It's not your burden."

"Of course it is!" I spit out. "If it's your burden, it's mine!" I stare at him in disbelief, and then sigh into despair. "You're gonna be alright, right?"

"I dunno."

"You will be."

"I don't know."

"You will be."

"I'm not sur-"

"YOU WILL BE!" I shout and my voice echoes throughout the silent night. I fall on his shoulder and my body quivers in fear. "Because you have to be," I whisper.

He leans on my head and puts his arm around my waist in comfort.

The seconds turned into minutes and the minutes turned into hours until it felt that we had stayed that way for years. I'd forgotten everything, I didn't think of anything, nothing mattered to me accept for him.

Eventually, I ask him, "Is there a treatment?"

"Yeah," he says, and my spirits immediately awake from the dead. "But it's not guaranteed."

"There's a good chance?"

"My doctor said so... but there's still that chance of... well, you know."

"How?"

"Surgery."

"When?"

"Soon."

"...When?"

"Soon."

I gave in. "I'm sorry about earlier."

"It's okay, you didn't know," he smiles at me.

I pause. "Are you scared?"

"As hell, no, double that."

I grip onto his arm tighter. "I'll stay with you till it's over."

"It's not necessary."

"And I'll stay with you until you recover."

"But what if I-"

"And after that we'll take our night walks again. And again, and again. This won't be our last one."

He gives me a look, as if telling me to come back down to reality. "How do you know? How can you be so sure?"

"How can you not be? I'm doing my part, keeping the light… where's your hope?"

"It's right here, but I also have reality in my head too, Kari."

I can sense a sob coming. "So you're admitting that you'll just leave me."

"I didn't say that."

"But you didn't say that you weren't."

Silence.

"I thought so." I lean back on the bench and stare out at the ocean waves.

Suddenly, he leans in and kisses my forehead. "You know I will never leave your side."

I turn around and embrace him warmly, never wanting to let go.

Though he claimed he wouldn't, in truth, I knew that there was a chance he would. I didn't know what else to say. It was still all too much of a shock to me - the thought of my best friend's funeral.

Then strangely, in the corner of my eye, I notice a dim light in the sky.

A star.

I close my eyes and pray.

I spent that night secure in his arms, draining in every second for what it was worth. For those moments were too short, too vital, too delicate...

Ding... dong... ding.

...More delicate than the sound of wind-chimes.

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I found my information on Osteosarcoma from: kidshealth.org and iucc.iu.edu

It's a serious cancer that mostly affects teenage boys, and usually gives them pain in the leg, knee, and shoulder. Although with today's improved technology, most patients survive this cancer.

Thank you for reading. Please review.