Through the blinds a soft orange hue of sunlight seeped through, casting a morning glow on everything in the room. It was the first sign that promised a good day. A ball of blankets and hair lay in the old musty mattress unaware how close the alarm clock sat near it's head. A yellow light glowed inside the glass casing showing the roll of numbers that lay inside about to turn.
The first loud obnoxious buzz came as the clock changed from saying 6:59 to 7:00 with the fall of three flimsy paper digits inside. The second buzz was cut off as the boy, who had previously only been a mass of sheets and fluff, sat up in the bed sleepily, stretching his arms out lazily before climbing out of the bed.
He followed a somewhat daily routine, walking out of his room in his pajamas to get breakfast, not bothering to fix himself up beforehand. He scuffled his feet along the carpet and stopped at the steps, a somewhat gentle punch landing against his arm.
Instinctively, even though it didn't hurt, he held his forearm and turned to face the culprit. A man stood, his hair also blond and styled similar but with more harsh spikes. "Good morning, Cloud." The younger boy said in his soft, half asleep voice.
Cloud remained silent for a moment before smirking. "Did you forget what day it is?"
Looking up at his brother with a confused expression playing on his face, he said, "Friday?" When he gained no response except for his brother's arched eyebrow, he kept going. "The 15th of May?"
The two blonde boys stared at each other for a moment before Cloud spoke again. "It's the 17th, Roxas."
Roxas thought for a moment, recounting the days in his head. His eyes widened as he realized that his older brother was right. "It's my birthday!"
Cloud laughed lightly and walked past his brother and down the stairs. "Stupid." Roxas glared at him but shrugged if off as he made his way downstairs as well.
Their mother greeted them at the kitchen stove. "Good morning, boys! Happy Birthday Roxas!" Cloud sat down at the four-person kitchen table with not a word as Roxas sat down on the other side, grinning brightly. "So I suppose for your sixteenth birthday you're expecting a car?"
Roxas grinned wider, his eyes sparkling with joy. "Really, Mom?"
His mother laughed lightly. "You'll have to wait until after school to see when your father gets home." The boy bounced giddily in his seat, watching as his mother placed a healthy stack of pancakes on his plate and another on Cloud's. "Now eat up and go get ready for school."
Yes. Today was a good day. It was a Friday, Roxas's sixteenth Birthday, and just overall turning out to be a good day. Like it should be. Today he went to classes and he was told "Happy Birthday" by all of his friends and classmates. His friends Hayner, Pence, and Olette got him presents like they did every year and as he did for them. Hayner had gotten him a new football in hopes that they could play together during the weekends. Pence had gotten him the new Frank Sinatra record he'd been waiting on. And Olette got him a fancy new yo-yo and a book of tricks that he could learn. And, even though he didn't much enjoy yo-yo-ing or playing football, he hugged his friends and thanked them politely.
It was a normal birthday, and Roxas was a normal kid with a normal life. He was part of a normal family and had normal hobbies. He had normal obstacles and normal wealth. And like everyone's normal birthdays should be, it was a good day.
Roxas practically skipped through the door, first looking around for his dad, then realizing he wasn't there and taking his place on the bottom stair in front of the door. His brother had driven him home hopefully for the last time, seeing as though he was hoping for a new car that he could drive home in every day after that.
Finally his dad got home. "Dad!"
"Hey, Rox. Happy birthday!" His father gave him a warm smile as his mother and Cloud walked in the room with them. "Ready to see your new car?"
Roxas jumped up. "Yeah!" And with that he followed his dad outside to see the most beautiful car he'd ever imagined sitting in their front driveway. It was a brand new 1954 Chevrolet Sedan, black, with a shiny silver stripe playing along the side giving it more of a glimmer. Roxas's dream car.
As his father proceeded to explain everything about the automobile, the blonde boy was admiring every curve and feature and design of it. He got in and sat down. "Cost me $900." His father said next to him. He held out a set of keys to Roxas. "Start it up, buddy."
Roxas grinned and grabbed the keys eagerly from his father's hand, slowly sliding the main key into the ignition. Roxas turned the key, listening as the engine roared to life. He looked at his dad once again. "Can I take it for a drive around the block?"
"It's your car. Go ahead."
He grinned again and shut the car door, turning to the wheel. He switched the car into reverse and started to move his leg.
A minute and a half later and the car was still parked in the driveway.
"What are you waiting for, Roxas?" Cloud said, getting in the passenger seat.
Roxas looked at him with a grave expression on his face. "My leg won't move."
Cloud looked at his brother strangely. "What do you mean?"
"I mean...I can't move my leg."
Cloud jumped out of the car, telling his parents what was going on as he moved to Roxas's side and opened the door. The older brother kneeled and pulled Roxas to the side, examining his legs. They were completely limp. He pinched the skin, hearing Roxas yelp in pain.
Their father loomed over them as their mother ran inside to call an ambulance, though rationality would suggest that they drive them to the hospital themselves. Never the less, they all made it, all scared and all wondering what had made that day go so wrong.
Numerous needles and tests as well as the sympathetic looks Roxas was getting from nurses scared him. His legs were completely limp and the lack of control was moving up his hips by the time they reached the hospital. He felt dizzy, but he wasn't sure whether it was from panic or illness. And perhaps it was the bright lighting in the hospital that distorted his vision.
His mother sat next to him, her hand firmly wrapped around his in attempts to comfort him, but to no avail. By the doorway his father stood, hands in his trouser pockets and tapping his foot anxiously. Cloud sat in the chair behind their mother, his eyes refusing to meet Roxas's for fear that he was right about what was ailing his brother.
The blonde boy laid nervously in the bed as his shoulders began to go limp as well. He said nothing, hoping deep down inside that if no one said it, it wasn't real. All four of the family members waited silently, nail biting, foot tapping, or just plain worrying before a doctor had arrived to confirm their fears.
By the time the doctor arrived, Roxas was limp from the neck down. Right as the man stepped through the doorway, he was mentally interrogated with the stares of the worried family. He strummed his fingers along the back of his clipboard and looked through the papers one last time before finding his ability to speak.
"Roxas has tested positive for poliomyelitis."
Roxas laid in the bed, staring at the ceiling, unsure of what to think, too many thoughts going through his head already for him to comprehend. Poliomyelitis...polio. I have polio? I can't have polio! Polio is something normal kids don't get! I'm a normal kid! I just have...I have... a really bad cold! This is all wrong!
Roxas had heard about polio from school. It was a national pandemic that killed many and paralyzed countless others. They were still working on a vaccine for it. A few people from his school had gotten it and the school had to take extremes to keep it from spreading. The former president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had it(1) and it paralyzed him. How was it that Roxas had gotten something so rare?
"How?" Cloud was the only one with enough guts to actually speak after such a declaration. "How did he get it?"
The doctor sighed again in the way that made Roxas cringe inside. "Polio is transferred through fecal-oral transmission and the body is very sensitive to any cell of the virus that it comes in contact with. So one infected person may not have washed their hands well enough, and it could be enough to have caused it to spread. The signs may not have appeared on the person who spread it yet."
The paralyzed boy thought for a moment before speaking in a voice he just realized was getting weaker. "Could it be from when I went swimming in the pond?" His voice was barely above a whisper.
"What do we do?" His father said, his voice holding a tone Roxas had never heard before. It was the deepest of fears in a vocal expression.
"There are treatments. Some we can give you here, but for better treatment there is a clinic for polio patients that I would recommend in Georgia." He flipped through his papers again, seemingly looking for nothing, as if it were a nervous habit for him. "It's called the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation."
"Georgia?" This time it was his mother. "But that's so far away..."
"It's up to you. I recommend the clinic, because of the better treatment and it can contain the virus."
As his mother and the doctor talked more about the clinic, Roxas thought back on what was going on. He had polio. He was paralyzed from the neck down, and he may die. Wait a second...he may die. Death. That word suddenly plagued his thoughts. He could very possibly die before he ever got to drive his car. Before he ever saw his friends again. Before he graduated. And he was possibly about to move across the country, alone, to get treatment for what was possibly going to kill him.
"I want to go to the clinic."
His mother shut up. His father looked at him, and Cloud kept his eyes on the floor. The doctor was the only person who responded. "Are you sure?"
"I want to go to the clinic." Roxas repeated, his voice a little softer but at the same time with a little more assurance in it. He wanted to make sure that no one he knew was going to get what he had. Even if that meant he may never see them again.
"Roxas. You really want to go?" His father said with a false courage held in his voice.
Roxas nodded, giving his dad the bravest look he could muster from his position.
His father sighed and looked back at the doctor. "When does he leave?"
His father, mother, and the doctor, then made arrangements for Roxas's move to Georgia. The helicopter would air lift him to the clinic, and his parents would meet him there with some of his things a few weeks later when they could muster up the money to get a plane ride down there. He would be rooming with two other polio patients and receive tutoring and treatment while he was there.
He had three days left before he was leaving his home town, his friends, and his family behind. Happy Birthday Roxas. You have a new album, a car, and polio.
1. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was paralyzed by Guillain-Barre' Syndrome but at the time it was believed that he was paralyzed by polio.
Note: So Roxy-poo got polio. How's that for a bad birthday? Yeah, I like this storyline. If it has good feedback I may change character names and actually make it my own story. Like...a real story. Yeah. Maybe..I researched SO much about polio, the 1950's, pop culture, and everything that I could for this story. You have no idea. Someone, quiz me on polio. I dare ya.
Okay Umm...thanks for the help Demy-kins, and Roxy-poo my RP friends...and Enpii!! Danke danke meine freundin. Ich liebe dich!! Und ich sprachen zie deutch ja ja. Tchusse!
That's enough German for now. Okay. Bye bye!
Meryl is so lucky...