The Inconvenience Of Death
This was written for Silver Moon Droplet's Challenge, in which she gave each participant a prompt and we had to incorporate said prompt into our one shot. Mine happened to be a selection of lyrics from a Sunrise Avenue song called Fairytale Gone Bad. The corresponding lyrics are in italics in the piece that follows. I hope you enjoy it Silver Moon! Happy Birthday!
I guess the fact I have malignant stage three brain cancer is pretty irrelevant compared to what I am about to tell you.
And that is nothing more and nothing less than this simple fact: I am going to disembowel my younger brother.
After I am done ripping out his lungs with a very dull spoon and consequently hanging and quartering all four limbs of his corpse around Destiny Island by chocobo, I plan on tarring and feathering what's left of the sly little bastard and then skipping his funeral so I can burn his body in effigy.
Now, do you want to hear about the brain cancer or do you want to hear about my brother?
Doesn't matter. I'm telling you about my brother.
His name is Shinichi. Or Stupid Shinichi, if you know him well. Maybe Shit For Brains Shinichi, after today. I'm sure we could think up alliterations for his name all evening, since about zero thought was put into christening the kid the week he was born. I was a planned, well thought out endeavor. Shinichi was the result of one too many bottles of beer and an astounding lack of foresight on my mother's behalf.
I often wonder why my mom bothered to have children when he didn't exactly plan on raising them.
We had a nanny up until the point Shinichi drove her insane and she quit in a flourish of vilifications and rude, one fingered hand gestures.
Instead of hiring another one, Mom decided we were old enough to start taking care of ourselves. Which was complete and utter turd, by the way, but she left to catch her first class seat to her next business meeting via Gummi Continental, a company we practically keep in business given all the time Mom has allotted to using their services.
Anyway. Fast forward, like, eight years. I get diagnosed with brain cancer. And you would think this would bring Mom home, but it doesn't. Shinichi, the boy who previously scared the nanny away when he was ten by chopping off her pony tail with a weed whacker while she was outside trimming the bushes of our multi-million dollar estate and doing nothing productive but complaining of a pony tail headache and how the weight of her heavy hair was producing a pain nobody could imagine ('Gee Ms. Izuki, I hope you weren't planning on making a donation to Locks of Love,') had all of the sudden became my soul protector in that he was the one on the phone at obscene hours of the morning negotiating with the hell spawn insurance companies and arguing with every pharmacist on this side of the planet ('Yeah, I know my sister can't have alcohol with this—but I still can, right?')
It's a wonder I'm still alive.
Regardless, at sixteen my brother was doing a pretty decent job of taking care of somebody recently diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and I don't know when I expected him to get his driver's permit—whether it be between my vicious bouts with projectile vomit (compliments of chemotherapy) or during one of my numerous convulsion fits (Shinichi claimed he was going to ass rape whatever dip shit gave me barbiturates for the pain and then refused to refill the prescription given the speed I went through the bottle—thus the convulsion fit. He never got around to sodomizing the doctor in question, though.)
Jump to last night.
I was watching reruns of Melrose Place while leisurely sipping a bottle of Pepto Bismol—thanks to one too many narcotics. If I survive this brain cancer, there's no doubt in my mind I'll die due to complications of my liver. Or stomach.
"...Are you drinking Pepto through a straw?"
"Yeah," I confirmed, wiping away the residue from my mouth with the back of my hand.
I threw the now empty container at him. Well, almost empty. Some left over substance splattered all over the five thousand dollar Persian rug my mom had mail ordered from her hotel room last week. We both stood there blinking for a moment, admiring my handiwork, and then continued talking like my antacid was not defiling thousands of dollars worth of foreign carpet.
"Did you need something? I'm missing my soaps."
Shinichi shifted uncomfortably in the threshold of the living room. He looked as though he was trying to personify a pendulum, swaying side to side like his shoes were massive weights anchoring him to this plane of reality.
"That oncologist guy called."
I prodded him with my eyebrows.
"Um...he wants to see you for something...something came up on your last MRI scan...but he wouldn't tell me what over the phone..."
"That means it's bad," I finished, going to take another habitual sip of my Pepto but quickly realizing it was now all over the floor. "I'm probably dying."
"We already knew that."
"Yeah, but...quicker or something."
You learn to develop a hardened exterior in the face of death lest you want to go insane with grief and waste the little time you have left angsting about it in some nondescript dark corner. Personally, I was holding out until the season finale of All My Chocobos. I was so not dying until I found out if Cloud and Tifa were going to get together! Though the side story of Yuffie being the love child of Sephiroth and Vincent's m-preg was highly enticing, too. Oh, and I wanted to see who came out victorious on Twilight Town Idol.
"Well, um, anyway," Shinichi grumbled, clearing his throat. There's no better way to make people uncomfortable than bringing up your own death. ('Hey, Shinichi, I want pink flowers at my funeral, alright? Oh, and a blue coffin. Like the sky. Can you do that for me?' 'Kairi, why the hell would I piss money away on your coffin when we're just gonna bury it under six feet of dirt anyway?' Pause. Glassy eyes. 'Yeah, sure Kai. I'll do that for you.' 'Thanks.')
"The oncologist guy—"
"Yeah huh," Shinichi nodded consensually. "Dr. Doom. He wants you to come in tomorrow, but our limo driver is out of commission at the current moment."
"What do you mean?"
"He kinda fell asleep at the wheel last night coming home from the Organic Food Market to pick up that gluten free bread Dr. Tree Hugger insists you eat."
"Ohmigosh! Shin! Is he—"
"He's fine. Broke his leg—and crashed the car into a tree—but he's fine. So, um, anyway..."
More swaying. Shuffling. Stuttering.
"Well, I don't have my driver's permit, and we kinda need to get to the southern part of Destiny Island by tomorrow, and, well, Mom's not anywhere on this planet—literally—so desperate times call for desperate measures, right?"
"Shin, what are you trying to say?"
"Well, I called your ex-boyfriend..."
"Axel?" I reiterated, voice cracking and about eighteen decibels too loud. "You called Axel?!"
"But Kairi!" Shinichi whined like a little kid, balling up his hands at his sides and hopping from foot to foot. "He's got a car! And it's a Mustang!"
My vitriolic glare hinted that he better have more to back up his logic than his lust for foreign automobiles.
"Andandand he said he'd drive us to Dr. Doom's hospital for free! Andandand—"
"You called Axel?"
There was not much else I heard after that.
So. There's not much else you need to know about me and Axel except that we used to go out. And then we broke up. And I think we made out a couple times along the way. But other than that, it was rather uneventful. Right. Of course.
So when Shinichi rolled me out of our three car garage and onto our recently repaved driveway, I am happy to say I felt absolutely nothing when my eyes met Axel's, whose were conveniently shielded by a pair of ridiculously gaudy sunglasses, which makes sense because he was always an attention whore, now wasn't he? Tattooing not only his arm but his face with ball point pen in eighth period study hall until he was old enough to march right on down to the local tattoo parlor and get his designs inked in for real. Strutting around like we all owed him something for allowing us to breathe the same air he does, dying his hair that obnoxious shade of cherry blood and claiming it was real even though we all knew it wasn't. And the...spikes. The spikes I could not see over in history class. The spikes that obstructed my view for three weeks before Shinichi finally told me that I needed to dig into my pants and find a bigger set of balls if I ever intended to get through the rest of high school in one piece. I then promptly told Axel, the next day, that if he didn't change his hair style, I would come in with a lawn mower and run over his face. (I had PMS, cut me a break.) He of course replied with a 'and who lit the fuse on your tampon, darling?' which provoked a string of mollifications to come soaring out of my mouth fast enough to break the sonic barrier.
Though, admittedly, the next day, while he did still have those god forsaken red spikes, he was sitting in the back of the classroom with this ridiculous smirk hot enough to be comparable to the seventh level of hell and a saucy inquisition to match, 'so where's your lawn mower, sweetheart?'
Nope. No feelings. No feelings left at all.
"Oh my gawd a Mustang!" Shinichi squealed from behind me, low enough to be obscured from the looming red head but loud enough to make me wince. "See? You see that? That is pure perfection, right there."
Six months ago and I would have agreed with him. But I would have been referring to something else.
And this marks the first time I had ever seen Axel's perpetual smirk momentarily flutter away from his lips. His shielded eyes befell me, wrapped in a vast array of blankets extravagant enough to have me mistaken for a nomad, and bundled within the confines of a wheelchair unable to even push myself and relying on my sibling for transportation, and for a moment, that smirk left him. I don't know where it went, but it was back before I could get a second look or maybe snap a Polaroid as proof. Which sucked, because I would have had an absolutely marvelous time shoving it in his face.
See Axel? You're not indestructible! And yes, you do have feelings hidden deep, deep within that hallow chest cavity where your god damn heart is supposed to be.
We hadn't spoken in the past six months, much less seen each other.
I guess the fact I look like a walking...rolling...corpse would be liable to catch some people off guard.
"You look like shit," he deposited, the world flying from his mouth and landing directly in a heap on my lap.
I felt Shinichi twitch from behind me, and even though the kid claimed he called up Axel for his Mustang I think we both knew it was out of a desperate lack of options. Nobody's available on such short notice, and friends seem to magically disappear when one falls ill and drops out of their corresponding social circles.
Axel never much cared for social circles.
Of course, there may be a reason for that.
"Thanks," I dead panned, for I felt worse than a looked but I'd rather be damned for all eternity than show defeat in front of Axel. "All this and my hair is falling out, too."
Shinichi cleared his throat.
"Um, are we gonna get in the Mustang or just stare at it all day?"
Shinichi then got to undertake the complicated feat of loading me into a two doored automobile. It was ironic, for Shin is about ninety pounds, and most of that is made up of his abundant spikey hair and body jewelry as opposed to actually raw muscle, while Axel, though lean and lithe, is actually the equivalent of liquid steel and probably could have picked me up and thrown me over his shoulder if Shinichi let him within a three mile proximity of me.
And yet, the man had to look on helplessly because he didn't know the intricate method with which Shinichi had developed to deposit me into cars.
Eventually Shin just gave up, clamored into the back, and plopped me down in the front seat by the collar of my shirt. There are reasons why men are not maternal. Impatience is one of them.
Axel, strangely silent, watched the whole spectacle from a distance, like it was some holy ceremony he did not want to disrupt, and then quietly let himself into the driver's seat.
"Can I drive?" Shin questioned.
Axel shot me a look over his tinted sun glasses. "Is he always like this or am I just that damn lucky?"
"No," I admitted. "He's usually worse."
I perked for a minute.
"I could give him some of my sedatives if you'd like."
"Like I'd be stupid enough to take them," Shinichi drawled from the back.
"Lace them in his food," Axel grumbled, starting the car up in reverse and looking over his boney shoulder as he backed out of the driveway. "He'll never know the difference."
Of course, in order to look over the aforementioned shoulder, he had to place his hand on the shoulder of my seat for balance, as any person does when backing out a car. I couldn't help but flush at the proximity of his hand and unintentionally shied away from the potential contact as he made a death defying swoop out of our driveway.
I knew it didn't go unnoticed. Nothing goes by Axel unnoticed.
We drove down the main way a little while in silence. It made me uncomfortable. Axel was never silent. He was like that chronic murmuring of the fan or the air conditioner that was always going in the background. He had audio commentary for everything, and as of the moment we got in the car he seemed to be rendered silent. It was disconcerting to say the least.
"So. Um." He began intelligently.
I knew literature was never his strong point but I would think he could do better than that.
"Where's this brain thing located, anyway?"
"In her head," Shinichi shot out from behind us.
There was a slight pause that I'm sure Axel constructed into his comment for dramatic effect.
"Ya know, you never told me you had a brother."
"We don't like to talk about him much. It's embarrassing," I said. "He's the kid we keep in a cardboard box and never mention."
"I ate cardboard once. It was yummy."
Was Shin intentionally trying to freak Axel out?
"And I hear it's high in nutrients, too," my former boyfriend shot back.
Aha. Mind games never worked on Axel. He was too smart for them.
"Now back to what I was saying, where, exactly is this...thing?"
"My temporal lobe," I supplied softly. I fiddled with the hem of my skirt because, at that moment, I found it absolutely infatuating for reasons unknown to mankind. Anything was better than making eye contact with Axel, sunglasses or not.
I wonder if he wore those because I used to have a problem with eye contact.
"Okay," came the affirmation. "And where's that?"
"In her head," Shinichi repeated.
"Quiet, Hell Spawn," Axel demanded, like he was in a position to dictate authority even though he wasn't and probably never will be. Didn't matter. He was always good at pretending.
"The side of my head," I elaborated.
There was another dramatic pause.
"And I'm assuming they have a damn good reason why they don't just cut it out."
"There's...various reasons." I emitted a pent up sigh. "Axel, do you really want to hear about this?"
There was a snarl and a dismissive hiss of breath.
"Oh, that's right. Sorry, I forgot. I'm just the chauffer."
"...I didn't say that."
"You didn't have to."
More awkward silence.
"I have to go pee!" Shinichi cried, making a feeble attempt to break the tension.
Axel wordlessly handed him an empty beer bottle from the glove compartment.
"Go to town, kid. We won't peek."
Somebody please tell me why I ever dated this guy.
Thirty minutes later I discovered Shin had brought his ipod. I demanded he listen to it, lest he wanted to be the victim of my pure, unadulterated, and unrequited wrath. Axel offered to aid me in my quest to maim by fellow family members as well. Under threat of castration, Shin eventually retreated to the solace of his heavy metal/punk rock/deaf jam whatever the hell you call music where the lead singer screams nothing coherent and is meant to played at obscene levels of volume so as to drown out the outside world.
"I like the kid's nose ring," Axel offered.
"He did it himself."
"Tell me it didn't get infected."
I remained silent.
"Oh gods," Axel chuckled. "Lemme guess, your mom got him some world renown doctor no other plebian would have access to, yet she ceased to ever actually take the time to check up on him."
"He got a phone call," I stated honestly.
"Yeah? How long did it last? Thirty seconds?"
"Eh. I was close."
"You usually are."
We then resumed the previous silent ambiance that was permeating the automobile moments before. What do you say to the guy that broke your heart? Especially when you're dying?
"So how have you been?" Axel finally questioned.
I unintentionally snorted. "I dunno. I've got cancer, Axel, you tell me."
I think I saw the corner of Axel's eye twitch underneath the protective covering of his sunglasses.
"There's no need to snitchy about it, sweetheart."
"Oh, no need at all," I feigned, glaring vehemently at the rapidly passing road outside the tinted window. "You try dealing with a lump the size of a golf ball nestled in your brain and then we'll see who's cordial."
Axel absent mindedly put on his blinker and passed an over sized dump truck that was situated in the wrong lane.
"Okay, so how about we not talk about the giant cancerous thing in your head? I was referring to you in general, Kairi."
I continued my fuming.
"And since when did you start caring about that?"
"...Well, let's see, maybe about the same time I asked?"
Copy and paste previous silence streak and insert here.
I noticed a high glossed bill board on the side of the road, wildly proclaiming in big bold letters 'Get Healthier, Shinier, Thicker Hair' for all who were literate to see. I scrunched up my nose at the air brushed model who was wildly flipping her hallow cranium around so as to show off the aforementioned 'healthier, shinier, thicker' hair, and wondered when the human population became unsatisfied with normal and started on their epic quest for the extraordinary. Ask any person in the infusion center and they'll tell you the same thing, 'Well, damn, I'd be happy just having hair. The wigs itch.'
But no. Healthier. Shinier. Thicker.
Our wigs looks like rat hides.
Hence why I am resorting to just letting mine fall out. So be it if I get stares. You see me? Good. Be glad it's not you. And maybe think of this moment next time you shampoo your follicles with some over priced novelty conditioner.
"Didn't like that billboard, huh?"
I turned to veer at Axel.
"Maybe you should try watching the road."
"I was, sweetheart, but you looked as though you were ready to chew your own head off. It was kinda noticeable, if you know what I mean."
Never mind it would be physically impossible to chew one's own head off. Axel never concerned himself with the rules of reality.
"...Hair grows back," Axel offered simply, which I knew from six months of dating him was the closest he'd ever get to sentiment. That right there was the equivalent of hours of serenading, a candle lit dinner, and twelve dozen roses from most normal men.
I was about to make some quip about my life expectancy over shadowing the time I'd need for my hair to grow back in but thought better of it. Axel exuding anything softer than rock hard granite was as rare as running into your favorite male celebrity nude. I bit my tongue and resumed my previously riveting activity of glaring at the road.
"So," I snipped, trying to give the impression of a confidence Axel already knew I didn't have, "what about you? How have you been?"
"I don't have cancerous golf balls floating around in my skull so I think I'm doing alright."
Avoiding the question. How typical.
"Did you get into Destiny University?" I questioned, momentarily forgetting I was supposed to hate the man and not care where he was getting his further education.
"...Kairi, why do you think I bought the car?"
My counterpart shifted uncomfortably in the leather driver's seat.
"They said my grades were too low. Which means they're too low to get into any college."
"Um, okay." I stopped. Inhaled. And continued. "So you blew your entire college savings on a leather clad Mustang?"
"...It's a little more complicated than that."
"No, I don't think so," I responded, forgetting the take a minute to breathe. "You couldn't get into college so you wasted all your hard earned money on a car. You're retarded, Axel. You know that, right?"
"I was wondering how long it would take you to remind me of that fact."
Now this just made me angrier. I'd give anything to go to college, an endeavor in my future I had always taken for granted, and now that the opportunity was stripped away from me I found it hard to forgive Axel's brazen stupidity in not applying elsewhere and giving up so damn easily. True, Destiny University was like a giant outhouse where you could get a degree in crapping, but that didn't excuse him from not even trying.
"Ya know, I'd give anything to go to college," I said softly.
Axel looked at me funny.
"You've still got time."
I don't know if he was trying to be funny or he was just being oblivious as usual, but the word 'time' does not sit well with terminal cancer patients. After I got my death sentence from Dr. Doom, Shin and I came home and threw out every single clock in the house, including the antique oak grandfather one that had been a family heirloom since before the dawn of time. We even confiscated all the house hold watches, whether they be from Tiffany's or Aramani's or what have you. Everything went flying out the window. I smashed the one located on the digital pad of the microwave and Shin was smart enough to hide the small numerical clock on the computer screen before I went ahead and bashed that one in too. Actually, truth be told, it is pretty impressive Shin was able to catch on to my plans without saying a word. He just walked down the stairs one morning to find a plethora of broken glass scattered through out the marble kitchen from my previous encounter with the old glass covered clock face that was mounted over the stove and somehow figured out what I had intentions of doing. He found me trying unsuccessfully to push the grandfather clock out of the corresponding window, and wordlessly came up behind me and helped heave the thing right through the glass. He then stood back, admired the fruits of our labor, and turned to me to ask, "So, what's next?"
We then bombarded into Mom's room and destroyed all her wrist watches. Like she'd even notice they were missing, anyway.
And that is how we dealt with my newfound relationship with time.
I listened to Shin the next night as he busied himself at three in the morning, assuming I was fast asleep, trying to load the remnants of the wooden frame belonging to said grandfather clock into one of our trucks so he could haul it off to the dump. He then came back and swept up the kitchen without saying a word.
I waited until I saw his tail lights disappear from the driveway and then let myself cry for the first and last time.
But you don't tell these sort of things to an ex boyfriend, now do you?
"I hate clocks," I muttered, not caring how cryptic I sounded in the face of the current moment.
Axel's eyes grew wide under his sunglasses.
"Alrightie then," he replied, and silently removed his wrist watch from his hand and shoved it in the glove compartment with Shinichi's bottled up pee.
It didn't take long for my head to start hurting.
It is usually the worst in the morning, and dies out during the day, but lately it's been spiking without warning and with no regard to the time whatsoever. And to say my head simply hurts is rather a gross understatement. It's more like the apocalypse is going on inside my skull. And I smash my forehead against things accordingly. At least until Shinichi finds me, usually curled up on the bathroom floor in the fetal position, and goes and gets my painkillers.
Today the flavor of the week happens to be Dilaudid. In injectable form. And guess where you get to inject it.
Axel noticed something was wrong when I started to pull on what was left of my hair.
Pride is a funny thing, and it would take me to my knees before I admitted anything was wrong.
"Um, Kai," Axel petitioned while we were stopped at a red light. "I think you're shedding."
I ignored him and continued pulling on my remnants of hair.
Regardless of whatever was immortalized on his report card, Axel was a smart man, well, on occasions, perhaps when he wasn't blowing his entire college tuition on a car, and finally realized that maybe it was time to notify Nurse Shin.
"Yo," Axel called into the back seat, his eyes never leaving my contorted visage. "Shinichi, you're sister is going mental on me. What's wrong?"
Shin pulled out his ipod buds one by one.
"I'm pulling over," Axel informed us, no room for arguing. "She's starting to look homicidal."
Next thing I knew Shinichi's face was next to mine as he poked his pierced little mug through the passenger's window after clamoring out of the Mustang on Axel's side.
"Kairi, do you want the Special Stuff?"
Axel's nose once again elevated in confusion.
I nodded, further gritting my teeth and biting my lower lip until I could taste the iron tang of blood in my mouth as it trickled down my throat.
This was Shinichi's cue to consult his man purse, which he carried around with him at all times and had conveniently stashed in the back seat without so much as a word, in a vain attempt to shift through the myriads of apparatuses and utensils in search for the fabled Dilaudid I so desperately needed.
His man purse was more of a messenger bag, kind of like an adult diaper bag, if you want an eccentric simile, and he unintentionally spilled out that confounded AED that he insists on lugging around all hours of the day even though Dr. Doom says he doesn't really need it.
Axel eyed it warily and I found the look on his face very intriguing as he slowly registered the gravity of the situation I currently found myself in.
Shinichi eventually extracted the injector and told Axel to turn around and not to peek under threat of dislocation of his balls.
Axel looked like he had some ready repertoire at hand but refrained given the circumstances.
So. Shinichi injected the drugs. Use your imagination, for I am not going divulge in all the grisly details of what it's like to be rendered so helpless you have to resort to sticking your ass in your brother's face so he can shoot you up with narcotics, lest you slit your own wrists to stop the pain. He's used to it. I'm used to it. Dignity is something I don't plan on dying with.
After he was done, he buckled me back into my car and told Axel he was allowed to show his face once more. Shinichi once again resumed his position in the back seat after climbing over Axel's chair and getting his shoe lace stuck on the stick shift and pulling the car out of park and into reverse. I was pretty far gone at the time, so I don't remember the details, but I do remember the car suddenly rolling backwards down the shoulder of the road as Shin squealed in jubilation and Axel shouted swear words while chasing after his over priced tuition purchased Mustang.
"See?" Shin exclaimed breathlessly once Axel caught up with the car, dove in, and applied the breaks. "Told you I'd get to drive it."
Axel replied with a long list of illicit words in another language, well, at least that's what I'm assuming given his less that cordial tone of voice and rude hand gestures. I think I picked up hints of Portuguese.
Eventually we got back on the road, I think. Maybe. I was beginning to travel off to Euphoria Land where the grass is neon and everything is in hues of monochrome rose. Beethoven's Fifth was ringing merrily through my head as I skipped through a field of tulips holding hands with an anthropomorphic platypus. As to why, the reason escapes me. Blame the drugs. I do.
I chose to visit reality it short bursts. Shin is used to this sort of sporadic, intermitted acquaintance. Axel still had to get used to it. Which is funny, because I am nowhere as bad as I used to be. Tolerance is something all chronic sickies acquire, but I don't think we'll ever learn to become immune to legalized heroine.
"Um, I'm assuming you didn't just shoot her up with Advil," Axel lamely attempted to joke. His voice was resonating off the sides of my skull, and I could swear it was echoing.
"You're not funny. Stop breathing."
I would have giggled had I had control over my mandible, which I didn't, and I guess that explains why there was a shoe string of saliva dangling from the left corner of my mouth.
It was dark, the sun kissing the horizon farewell for the evening. I was confused. Why was it dark?
"I told you Map Quest said turn left," Axel hissed, snarling something terrible. "But no, you insisted we turn right..."
"...I meant your other right..." Shin argued weakly.
"Hi. Dr. Doom? It's Shinichi Osaki. Yeah. We're lost. No, no...we can make it in tomorrow. What? Yeah, well, I'm sorry you waited a whole five minutes for us. Yeah, I know you have other patients to see. No, I don't care. You know what I care about? My sister. And that's it. What? Quit saying stuff like that. If we annoy you so much just tell yourself it will all be over in four months anyway."
"...what was that supposed to mean?"
"Axel, be quiet. I'm on the phone with Lucifer."
"Can you turn on the radio?"
"...Your sister is asleep, dip stick."
"Trust me, man. God Almighty himself couldn't wake her up in the state she's in."
I can hear you, Shin. You know I can still hear you. That's how I found out you liked Reira Serizawa who is only in the eighth grade. You got drunk and told me.
"...If you say so."
Fizzling of the radio. Oldies. Jazz. Blues. Hip Hop. Rap.
...Out of my head, Out of my bed...
"Ooooh, this is a good song!" Shinichi squealed, puberty currently lost on him and his not yet developed voice.
"Sounds scandalous," Axel chided. "Alright. I'll give it a go."
The volume grew in intensity.
...Out of the dreams we had, they're bad...
...Tell them it's me who made you sad...
...Tell them the fairytale gone bad...
"Holy. Hell." Axel exhaled, probably rubbing his left temple like he always does. "This person can't rhyme worth their weight in crap."
"What?!" Shin cried in his 'how dare you insult my precious indie band' voice. "It's Sunrise Avenue, man! They're totally awesome!"
"Okay. I'm deducting ten points from their coolness meter due to you saying they're 'totally awesome.'"
"Not fair!" Shinichi pouted. "You can't do that!"
"...I just did."
Oh goodness. He hasn't changed. One bit. He still thrives off being difficult. I swear, it's how he gets his jollies. Sex takes second place.
The singer continued to read off adjectives from his thesaurus, all having some vague correlation to being 'sad' or 'mad.'
"Whine, whine, whine..." Axel chanted, who, if I remember correctly, always harbored a secret love for show tunes and theatrics. Fitting, if you think about it. For someone who loves the lime light so much.
"Stop it! Samu Haber is my role model!"
"And why is that Shin?" Axel questioned, basking in the moment of controversy, eating it up like he was made of solar panels that fed off of the toxic rays of his audacious insults. "Has he done anything note worthy besides pick up a guitar and sing a song? Has he saved any lives? Does he stand for justice? Does he go out and change what makes him mad or just sit in a corner and write songs about it?"
"...But he's from Finland..." Shin muttered, barely audible. "And that makes him cool."
"You know who my role model is? Mother Teresa," Axel answered without waiting for an invitation, as usual. I couldn't tell if he was being serious or fooling around. "Pick a role model that's already dead. That way they can't disappoint you."
"I'm pulling over."
"Because it's eleven o' clock at night, that's why."
"But we have to get to the southern part of Destiny Island by ten o' clock in the morning!"
"Well, if we get back on the road at six that gives us plenty of time to get there. Right now I need my sleep."
"But I'm not sleepy! Lemme drive!"
"I'd sooner let my balls get gangrene and cut them off then let you behind the wheel."
Oh wow. Now there's an image.
"I should have listened to my sister and not have drank that Red Bull at the last gas station..."
Oh, gods. Axel, you let him have Red Bull? Were you...high? Like, higher than me?
"Look. A truck stop. Why don't you call your mom on that fancy cell phone of yours and tell her where her well bred son is spending the night? I'm sure she'd love to hear it."
"...No she wouldn't..."
"Sarcasm, Hell Spawn."
"Don't kill Mom..." I gurgled, rolling over in my sticky leather seat and face planting the adjacent window.
There was another moment of silence.
Then a volcanic eruption of laughter.
Hunger pangs are fun.
Please note the acidic sarcasm used to dictate the previous statement.
So it was three o' clock in the morning, and I had just come off of my Dilaudid high. Well, enough to be coherent, at least. Everything would remain fuzzy for the next two days at least, regardless of the thing's official half life.
I rubbed my forehead gingerly and tried to salvage what was left of my hair. Some of it came out when I ran my fingers through it, and I quietly opened the door and let it drop to the pavement. (That was a useless endeavor, really, since I had already malted all over Axel's leather interior.)
I took a peek in the haphazardly adjusted rear view mirror and found Shinichi zonked out, draped across the backseat of the car, utilizing his man purse as a pillow, a shoe string of drool dripping from his gaping mouth. Is he not the epitome of little brother?
It was then my eyes befell upon Axel, whose eyes were silently befalling me.
"Ohmigosh!" I squealed, jumping about three feet in the air and plummeting back into my seat due to the constraints of the seat belt. "Quit staring at me you pervert!"
"What?" he asked innocently, his sunglasses removed for the first time in the last twenty four hours. They were precariously clipped to the collar of his shirt.
"Don't what me," I snipped. "You used to do that all the time when we went out."
"Then you should be used to it," he offered saucily.
I hate him. Hate.
It was then the first succession of hunger pangs greeted me with their lovely, all encompassing salutations and I was forced to double over and clutch my gut.
Axel, probably assuming I was trying to repress my dire need to vomit, leaned over me and tore open the door on my side and directed my aim to my left.
"Not in the car," he ordered, devoid of sympathy. But he had his hand on the small of my back and was subconsciously running his thumb along my spine. He always spoke the opposite of what he felt. I thought it was some psychological disorder he probably took pills for.
I was, of course, wrong, but it seemed like a good explanation at the time.
"Not that," I grunted. "I just...I...I need a milkshake."
Axel paused and looked at me.
"You need a what?"
"Milkshake," I repeated. "And...food."
I nodded violently, probably not the smartest thing to do given my brain cancer, but I performed such feats subconsciously.
I nodded again.
"You try destroying your stomach with cancer meds for two months straight and going six hours without eating."
Axel scrunched his nose up again, which was becoming a habitual response for him.
"Are you sure you just won't throw it all back up?" he inquired.
"No," I answered honestly. "But it'll taste good going down, at least."
Axel paused with a frozen half smile on his face, like he wasn't sure if he was supposed to laugh or not.
"Laugh," I demanded. "I know you want to."
He settled for snickering and started the ignition.
It was when he was pulling out of the truck stop, and I caught a glimpse of his visage under the illumination of a street light, that I noticed the grotesque dark circles under his eyes, almost like the half moons outlining mine, and realized he had not gotten any sleep since we had stopped.
And now I was asking him to make a snack run in the middle of the night. Morning. Whatever it was.
"You don't...have to..." I began weakly.
Axel looked over his shoulder at me, face adorned with that smug expression that made me weak in the knees before everything made me weak in the knees.
"Yeah. I'm gonna let an eighteen year old cancer victim starve to death in my car. I would have to have no soul." He paused. "And besides, I don't want to jinx my new Mustang. Knowing you, you'd probably haunt the thing until I was forced to sell it back to the dealership."
"Yeah. Then you could go to college," I quipped, not missing a beat.
Axel smirked despite himself.
"You're relentless, you know that?"
"So I've been told."
I was then visited by another intense pain originating from my stomach and had to bow out of the conversation accordingly. Cancer makes everything hurt.
Axel then began to speed. Which I found amusing. He never sped, always claiming if he got caught he couldn't afford the ticket, to which I offered to pay off for him if need be since Mom doesn't really use half the money she makes anyway. He got all angsty on me and said in a barely audible voice, 'I don't do charity.'
Well then. Be that way. See if I care.
He tore into the drive through of the local McChocobos and ran over the curb in the process.
Once again, he was silently opposing the nonchalant words flying out of his mouth.
I couldn't tell if it turned me on or turned me off but either way, it didn't matter because we were done now and I had no feelings for him. And he has no feelings for me anymore, either. Which was more than evident by the reckless and dangerous way he was driving, right? Right? He must not have cared if he crashed and killed me. Yes. That's it.
As Axel pulled up to the bird shaped speaker that was situated right under the neon pull up menu, a fact occurred to me with starling clarity, so startling I can't believe I had even forgotten about it in the first place.
Axel doesn't fare well with drive throughs.
"Welcome to McChocobs, kupo, may I take your order, kupo?"
"Aw hell," Axel grumbled. "I got a friggin' Moogle..."
"I love Moogles!" I cooed, despite the pain in my gut which I was habitually clutching. Axel, of course, noticed this, and I think he gave me a mock glare just to amuse me and keep my mind off the acid that felt like it was eating away at my stomach lining.
"I need one milkshake..." Axel scrunched his face up in disdain. "...please."
"Not one for pleasantries?" I queried.
"Chocolate or vanilla, kupo?"
"Wa—aaaait!" Shin cried, suddenly materializing out of the back seat. He poked his face through the space between us and the moonlight caught on his facial piercings and reflected back at me. "Dr. Tree Hugger says you can't have dairy!"
"Where the hell did you come from?!" Axel hollered, jumping a mile high and whacking his head on the roof of his Mustang.
Nurse Shin, to the rescue. As always.
"Were you even asleep?" I hissed, as Axel finished hyperventilating.
"Is everything alright in there, kupo?"
"Does it sound like everything's alright in here?" Axel snapped.
"I woke up when Dick Wad over there ran over the curb," Shinichi explained, not even groggy, the adrenaline of me accidentally ingesting a dairy product making him rather lively.
"Excuse me?" Axel said, now with sudden composure in the light of being insulted.
"Go back to asphyxiating," Shin responded chipperly. "You're more amusing that way."
Axel growled. No, really, the man friggin growled. Is that some primitive primate thing back from the cro-magna times? Was he going to get out of the car and perform an ancient ritual tribal dance before sacrificing my little brother to the sun god?
My ex boyfriend then turned back to the speaker.
"Do you make a dairy free milkshake?"
"Axel, you retard, how can you have a dairy free milkshake?" Shin questioned.
"Oh Shin, shut up, Axel's trying to help me."
It was then Shin noticed my hand characteristically splayed across my abdomen and everything fell into place.
"Ask for soymilk," Shin grumbled, his happy persona disappearing before my eyes now that he realized the gravity of t he situation. I love how I am able to completely destroy an amiable mood in a matter of five seconds.
"Soymilk? What the hell is soymilk?"
"Just ask for it."
Axel rolled his eyes and hissed through his teeth, an action I always assumed was predominately performed by females.
"Can you make the milkshake with...soymilk?"
"Kupo. A soymilk milkshake?"
"Can't you just say yes or no?" Axel growled, once again. I think steam was originating from his ears.
"Kupo! We can't do that! Why would anyone want a soymilk milkshake?"
I subconsciously cringed because I knew that Axel wouldn't take much more. Shin followed my example and took refuge behind my seat, bracing himself for Axel's impending wrath.
"Look," Axel began, too low and gravely for the formality to be considered courteous. "My girlfriend has a friggin' golf ball lodged in her brain made up goddamn cancer cells and I'm sorry if it's an inconvenience to ask you to make something that she perhaps won't upchuck in the next thirty minutes. So why don't you be a good little Moogle and go back there to the kitchen where all your little Moogle friends are and tell them to get off their lazy asses and whip up some confounded soymilk so Kairi can stop clawing at her sides in pain and we don't have to resort to shooting her in the ass with more narcotics!"
I felt the steady breathing of Shin stop ricocheting off my neck.
"He called you his girlfriend..." he muttered.
I said nothing. Nothing would come out.
"Kupo. Hold on one minute."
There was temporary silence. No one felt audacious enough to breathe let alone say anything. The Moogle eventually came back.
"We can do that. But it will cost you extra."
More seething ensued.
"You're gonna charge the dying little girl for her soymilk?" Axel implored slowly, over articulating every word that came pouring out of his mouth like molten hot lava. "Do you get your jollies out of raping all your customers like that or just the ones with brain cancer?"
I could just picture the Moogle, probably clueless as to my plight, like so many people are, especially in the fast food industry, trembling with fear for whatever mollification was going to originate out of Axel's mouth next.
"Don't make me come in there," he warned.
"Kupo! It's on the house! Kupo! Second window please!"
Axel took the drive through alcove as such speed I was surprised the air bags didn't deplore upon his stop.
He snatched the milkshake and leered out a couple more scurrilous comments. I pretended to look the other way and not know him, even though I was the cause of the spectacle to begin with.
I felt like dying from embarrassment. Or just flat out dying. Which, now that I think about it, would be taken care of soon enough.
"Ya know, you could have just paid the guy," Shin muttered from the back seat as Axel pulled over to gather himself in the deserted parking lot. "Kairi doesn't like all the attention."
"I'm sorry," Axel apologized unapologetically, something he was always good at doing when he was going out with me. "I don't have money lodged in my rectum I can just reach up and pull outta my ass."
"You could have used my college savings," I joked absent mindedly, taking a sip from my highly anticipated milk shake. I could feel it trickling down my throat in cooling torrents of frost and balm. "It's not like I'm gonna be using that money anyway."
I laughed a little at my own joke, for Shinichi and I were always prone to poking fun at the afterlife, since we really knew no other way of dealing with its gravity. It was either that or cry. And, hell, I've only got so much longer to live, and I'll be damned if I'm gonna spend it crying.
I was expecting to reciprocate some laughter from my fellow males, if not out of general amusement than at least out of pity. But I elicited none, not even from Shin, and I was alarmed by the look of general horror that seeped across Axel's face in response.
"...what?" he questioned, voice more hoarse and vulnerable than I have ever heard it in my time spent with him.
His jaw was clenched as his eyes were glistening with the kind of luminescence that is only available in times of dire emotion. The color drained away from his face, slowly, in the eons it felt like we were stuck sitting there, gaping slack jawed at each other, and I watched as his knuckled grip in the pleather steering wheel slowly went from white to transparent all in a matter of five seconds.
"...Shinichi?" I questioned, venturing for my brother's explanation concerning the matter.
He swallowed from behind my seat. It sounded almost deafening in my ear.
"I left that part out," he muttered sheepishly.
"What part?" I demanded, the milk shake that was so utterly important mere moments before seemingly forgotten in light of the current proceedings.
I looked at Axel, whom of which the previous inquiry had just been launched, and felt the world cave in from beneath me at the sound of his voice actually faltering for the first time since forever. Axel's voice never faltered. Axel's voice never hitched. He was always so sure and so proud and so tall. Why was he buckling in the face of death?
We both turned to glare vehemently at Shit For Brains Shinichi, who was donning an expression just as grim as both of ours, even though he was the cause of this spectacle and should have been begging for some consolation or forgiveness or understanding or...or something.
But instead, he just sat there in the back seat of the Mustang, perfectly placid and stoic, with hints of anger and rage reflecting in his eyes, but nothing so much as annoyance etched into his face.
He locked eyes with Axel.
"Aren't we all?"
I turned away in the wake of my brother's audacious query.
Oh Shin, how could you not tell him? Honestly; how could you not tell him? These things are not meant to be discovered at obscene hours of the morning in a deserted McChocobos parking lot. I assumed you had already told him everything—yes even that—over the phone when he agreed to drive us to the hospital. You told him I had brain cancer but negated to tell him it was terminal? Did you think he wouldn't find out? Like, I dunno, maybe when I perhaps died? Did you really think you could hide this from him until I passed on? Did you really think that was...that was possible?
Axel just sat there for a moment, glaring daggers at Shinichi's visage, and rightly so, before he tore open the car door and bolted out into the frigid night. I watched as he hurried over to the awning of the bypass up ahead and disappeared behind the covering of an inconveniently placed green hill—the remnants of what wasn't leveled while making the restaurant—as he slowly sank out of view to go and digest news of my untimely demise on his own.
I turned to my brother.
"Shinichi..." I began, wanting to scold him or in the very least reprimand him but finding I could not.
"I just couldn't Kairi," he answered, voice feeble and barely there. "I just couldn't."
And how can you stay mad at an answer like that? How could I be angry over the fact my brother was going to miss me when I was gone? How can you yell at someone for loving too much?
I nodded. It was alright. Of course it was alright. Everything would be alright.
We're all just human, anyway. And to be human is to fear death. And why should I expect Shinichi of being capable of doing anything more?
I opened the door on my side of the Mustang and quietly exited the vehicle and followed Axel down into the cranny of the bypass, which was all but desolate pavement and concrete at this hour at night.
Axel was squatting down on the curb, next to the isolated freeway, hands migrated up to his hair, clutching, and face lost somewhere in his knees as he tried to curl into himself and disappear. I know the position. I've done it myself before. Like, after my first round of chemo. Or my first shot in the ass. ('Geez Kai, it's not like it's anything I haven't seen before. We took baths together, ya know.' 'Shinichi, we were four.' 'Yeah, but we were still naked.') Or when I found out I wouldn't live to see my little brother graduate.
Though I may live to see him drop out if he doesn't watch his grades.
But that's another story.
"Axel," I petitioned, mitigated and melodic, trying my best to sound sympathetic even though technically it was I who should be receiving the sympathy. Death always hurts the ones left behind more than the ones it takes.
"Why can't they just tear it out?" he demanded, voice raspy and raw, like he had just finished up hollering at the local high school's pep rally. "I mean...I mean, isn't it right there?" he questioned, jabbing a finger at the side of my skull but not making eye contact.
"Yeah, and so is my brain," I added flatly.
Axel's face contorted into an ugly scrunched up version of the flawless visage he usually beheld, wrinkling up his features like a washboard and turning away in disdain.
"I don't get it," he fumed, pacing back and forth violently, like he was trying to wear a rut in the ground deep enough to build an in ground pool. "No. This isn't going to happen. It's not."
"You don't have much say in the matter," I consoled, remembering Shinichi's reaction was not much different we he discovered the news.
('Sir, I'm afraid your sister has terminal brain cancer-' 'No she doesn't.' 'Yes, Sir, she does. If you look at the MRI, the tumor is located-' 'No it's not.' 'Um, Sir, it's right there. See?' 'Nu-uh. That's her brain. What's wrong with you? Stupid doctors. You think you're so smart just 'cuz you went to medical school.')
It hit him a couple days later in the bathroom when he fell to his knees and blew enough chunks to clog the toilet. I tried to help him clean up, since I was the cause of the mess, after all, but bending over made me blow chunks, too, and the evening's activities consisted of us laughing manically in the master bathroom as we clutched our sides and rolled around in hysterics at the sight of so much barf we didn't even know where to start cleaning up.
When faced with trauma, you can do one of two things; fall apart and cry or laugh. Shinichi and I opted to laugh, and I suppose that's what got us through it.
Axel wasn't laughing yet.
I somehow doubted he would.
"How could...you...no. No. This is...is ridiculous. There was a mistake. You don't really have brain cancer, do you? April Fools, right? Ha. Ha ha! Good one!"
"Axel, it's March."
"I knew that Kairi! I knew that."
After Axel finished marching around in circles, literally, he just sort of crumbled into a heap at the side of the road, sliding do his knees than his rear, and staring distantly out into the empty road. I chose to meander over and sit beside him, poised and composed, for the news of death was of no great shock to me. I'd been dealing with its burden for months now. (What kind of viewing would it be; open casket or closed? Do I want people seeing me as a skin bag of organs and bones or do I want them staring at my senior portrait before they bury me under? Do I want sun flowers or dandelions at my memorial service? What kind of outfit do I want to be buried in? Prom gown? Hospital gown? Sweats? Hell, if I'm gonna be stuck in there for all eternity, I might as well be comfortable.)
"But why you?" Axel growled, returning to his primitive male urges and the tendency to make strange animalistic noises upon displeasure.
"It's my time to go, I guess."
"Like hell it is! You didn't even graduate yet! And how...how can you be so...so...okay with all of this? My God woman, you hardly look displeased let alone distraught!"
"...I have to be strong for my brother," I finished. "Because he's strong for me."
Axel blinked a couple times in response.
"Yeah, and about that," he muttered. "Why did I hafta find out from him?"
He referred to Shinichi like some kind of primeval third world disease.
"I assumed you already knew," I answered simply, trying to bite my tongue in lieu of things to come, but knowing it was an endeavor in vain for when you realize you only have so much longer to live, tact goes out the window and you tend to just blurt whatever is on your mind. It's not like you're gonna be around to reap the social repercussions anyway. And taking things to the grave is such a hassle. It looks good on paper and great in poetry but I'd rather not leave anything unsaid, ya know? I don't want to be thinking 'what if' until the apocalypse is nigh. People need to hear things and people need to say those things other people need to hear. I can't put it any blunter than that. Sometimes I think the world would benefit greatly if we all had our biological clocks ticking over our head telling us how long we had to live. I think people would say 'I love you' more and accept 'I'm sorry' more readily. Any life is too short when you know just how long it will last.
"Well, at any rate, now you know what if feels like to be completely bombed by someone else other than your significant other."
Axel stopped glaring vehemently at the pavement and looked up at me, perplexed.
"I'm assuming you're gonna explain that last comment to me."
I snarled, against my will, for I know it was not becoming on me, sans the lack of hair.
"Do you have any idea just how heinous it was for me to find out you were screwing Larxene from the mouth of the class psychopath Namine?"
Axel startled at my sudden conceit, and floundered around in its wake, trying to find something to hold on to so he could keep breathing.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, we're not going there right now."
"Yes we are Axel, and you want to know why? Because if we don't talk about this now I may be dead the next time the opportunity arises, and then I'll have to sit in my little casket and take all of my questions to the grave. And I don't want that! So try to realize that not everything revolves around your balls and answer the dying girl who wants to know why you cheated on her in the first place!"
Axel paused, his simmering anger, which never fully reached its boiling point, seeming to decrease in intensity as he watched my face grow more and more irate by the second. There were hot tears streaming down my cheeks, and even though I ceased to cry over my head exploding, ceased to cry over ass mooning an entire highway, and ceased to cry over having my stomach rip itself inside out, I let the tears fall when it came to the common loyalties of a boyfriend and his girl. Leave it to teenagers to have their priorities in order.
"You were the one who chose to believe Neurotic Namine over me," Axel whispered, voice barely audible, as he sat watching me try to wipe away my tears away with tremulous fingers. "I told you the truth, sweetheart, you just refused to hear it."
"But..." my voice choked up. "...but she had pictures! Pictures of the...the...the two of you to-together!"
"Kairi, the girl is a Photoshop Whore," Axel explained easily. "Of course she's gonna have pictures! Hell, her whole life evolves around pictures, that why we call her Neurotic!"
"But they were...good pictures. Good pictures, Axel! And pictures don't lie!"
"...and they never tell the whole truth, either."
I paused to look at him dead on, sniffling while doing so, probably ruining the moment, but it didn't matter. I didn't have hair either and I'm sure that ruined the moment, too.
Axel seemed to look at me a second too long, and then shook his head violently, almost as if he was trying to eradicate some truly heinous memory that was forever haunting him in the dark recesses of his mind.
"God Kairi, you're dying here and we're talking about frickin' Namine!"
I had forgotten he still hadn't gotten used to that idea. It was so common place for me I just accepted it and moved on. He was still adjusting...remarkably well, given the circumstances. Though maybe he had an inkling. A notion. An inner feeling that something just wasn't right. Maybe he figured it out long ago and just didn't want to believe it. Maybe hearing it out loud just made it all real. Solidified it, somehow. And now he wants to take it back. So we'll talk about Namine, because she's not me and she's not dying. Or maybe she is. Maybe she's got some aortic aneurysm waiting to happen or is going to walk out to get the newspaper tomorrow morning and get hit by a truck. Maybe she'll go nice and easy in her sleep when she's ninety or maybe she'll be burned alive in a car crash. Who knows?
"And aren't we all?" I repeated, using Shinichi's previously coined phrase in light of nothing else to say.
Axel seemed to take this as an ending to the conversation, so he stood up, scooped me up in his arms, and carried me off to the parking lot where we left the long forgotten Mustang. I knew better than to argue, so I let him deposit me into the passenger's seat without saying a word.
"Hey, that's my job," Shinichi whined.
Axel gave him the finger.
He then hurtled over to the driver's side.
"Drink your milkshake," he ordered.
He then turned on the air conditioning, announced he was going to go to sleep, rolled over the face the window, and proceeded to zone out indefinitely until the sun rose the following morning.
Shinichi and I followed suit and did the same.
Life is too short to stay mad at people. And nothing with a uterus can not hold a grudge. It's instinctual, the way Axel growling at things when he becomes annoyed is instinctual. It's dirty and primeval and humanity on it's most basic, homornic level, and it's sad that some girls can let one thing, one piece of gossip, one string of a coherent (or not coherent) sentence forever serve as a detriment to a relationship that was previously fine if not flawless. Do words have that much power? Are reputations that important?
And when faced with a life of needles and chemo and narcotics and pain and suffering and retching...all else seems to fall short. So, so short. Who cares who said what? Who cares if so and so didn't approve of your hairstyle? Who's gonna be the one to hold that same hair back as you revisit breakfast? Who's gonna be the one sorting out your plethora of pills every morning until kingdom come? Who's going to abandon all previously held weekend plans so they can drive you to the hospital where a doctor can tell you how much longer you have to live?
Why did I let one piece of unstable gossip ruin a friendship that would have otherwise lasted me a lifetime? What's wrong with taking his word for it when he's the one you trust to begin with? And what's wrong with letting the entire ordeal go?
Death makes me forgiving. So sue me. I won't be around much longer, anyway.
So I looked at him, highlighted in the dappling moonlight and it shone through the tinted windshield, and wondered why I had never accepted his silent apology earlier. This whole thing was a silent apology. To drive a girl who dumped you on a piece of hearsay to a hospital two days away and not ask anything of it. I didn't hear the silent apology because I simply wasn't listening. And maybe he never said sorry out loud because he never did anything wrong.
"Oh. My. Gosh. The song. Again."
"Turn it up turn it up turn it up!"
"Shin, shut up. You're gonna wake up Kairi."
Out of my head, Out of my bed
Out of the dreams we had, they're bad
Tell them it's me who made you sad
Tell them the fairytale gone bad
"They rhyme bad with bad twice!" Axel hollered. "How lame is that?!"
"Axel, shut up. You're gonna wake up Kairi."
I opened my eyes to find Axel steering with one hand, flirting with the speed limit, as usual, as he raced down the free way to the corresponding side of Destiny Islands. I knew we were getting close because sand was starting to appear on the road; sand from the consequential shore that was not located anywhere on the mainland.
"I wanna go swimming!" Shinichi squealed, puberty currently lost on him.
"...He's talking again," Axel dead panned, seeing me blink open my eyes. "Can we do anything about it?"
I looked over my shoulder.
"Oh, can we go swimming? Oh, can we Kairi, can we? Please, please, pleeee-ase?"
"Shin, don't you have school tomorrow?"
"Aw, to hell with school. Axel doesn't go to school, and look at the car he drives!"
I glared at the driver in question, who was smirking like the kid who just took a leak in the community swimming pool.
The wind was whipping at his cherry blood hair as he haphazardly slung one ivory arm out the window in the perfect image of nonchalance. He had the radio turned up now, trying to drown Shin out, I suppose, and was quietly singing along just to further irritate me.
"How about this, sweetheart?" he proposed, turning the volume down a little so he could be heard. "I'll go back to college if you get better."
"That's ridiculous! I have cancer, you retard! How am I supposed to—"
"Deal!" Shinichi shouted from the backseat.
I promptly turned around and poured the previously bottled up pee all over my little brother's lap, who squealed and whined accordingly, supplying me and Axel with just the motivation we needed to not turn homicidal on the way to the hospital.
Doctor's visits always go down in my memory as a giant blur. Perhaps it is my subconscious trying to protect me and block it out. I like to think of it that way, lest I really start to worry about the tumor's effect on my memory loss. I remember a parking lot; Axel whining and moaning about the government charging too much to utilize a slab of black pavement situated in concrete; an escalator; Shinichi getting his sandals stuck in the steps as usual; a hallway smelling alarmingly like disinfectant, the hospital's patent scent; and me having to stop by a nearby garbage can to hurl my guts out—Shinichi tried to identify last night's supper but Axel whacked him on the head before he was done; a waiting room; a bunch of miserable people all waiting in line to die or see the doctor; modern art splayed across the walls in a lame attempt to sooth the patients while the wait for their execution date; magazines about Country Cookin' and Home Décor that nobody really cares about, but it's better than being forced to witness feminine magazines that boast of hair products on the cover; and last but not least hard wooden benches that couldn't be comfortable for anyone with colon cancer. I considered myself lucky for the first time in months that mine was all in my head.
Doctor Doom said: "Blagh blagh blagh experimental blagh blagh blagh."
Then Shinichi said: "Blagh blagh blagh what do you mean blagh blagh blagh."
Then Doctor Doom replied with: "Blagh blagh blagh."
So Shinichi retorted: "Blagh blagh!"
And then the receptionist came in.
She knocked first, and when Dr. Doom beckoned to her, she quietly open the door a sliver and poked her perfectly made up face into the confines of the room. Thankfully she wore a bandana around her hair. I wonder if that was out of consideration for us or simply a fashion statement?
"Um, excuse me Doctor, but we appear to have a violently sick patient who has just recently locked himself in the bathroom and is refusing to let anyone in."
Dr. Doom shuffled in his chair and fiddled with his spectacles. "Is it one of my patients?"
"I have never seen him before."
Shinichi caught on before I did.
"Oh, dude, does he have red hair?"
The immaculate receptionist, while immediately buffering at the title of 'dude,' nodded in affirmation after regaining her composure.
"Yeah, that's Axel. He'll be out in a minute. Just give him some time. He's not dying or anything."
It was then one lone drop of saline made the suicidal plummet down my cheek and into my cupped hands.
It takes a little while to sink in, doesn't it Axel?
So far we had driven back home in silence.
Axel had finished up his business in the bathroom by the time our appointment with Dr. Doom had terminated. When asked if he had an eventful morning out here in the waiting room (posed by Shin, not me) he vehemently denied ever setting foot in the laboratory situated within the confines of the waiting room. We dropped the subject and so did he.
In the parking lot Axel found his voice again and demanded to know everything the doctor had said. I was unable to answer the question because I simply wasn't listening. What difference would any of it make? I was going to die anyhow. (Shinichi often replies, 'Well, yeah Kairi, so am I.' I promptly answer him with a kick in the balls. But it's a gentle kick, I do, after all, appreciate everything the kid has done for me.)
Shinichi surprised me by saying, "There's some experimental thing they wanna try."
"Experimental?" Axel repeated. "Experimental is good...right?"
"Well, it's better than the alternative," Shin muttered.
"Which is what?" Axel inquired, not catching on seeing as though he had only been dealing with these terms for less than twenty four hours.
"Dying," Shin answered bluntly.
The silent streak commenced there and continued until we were on the freeway driving home.
My little brother resorted to the refuge of his ipod once more, thus leaving Axel and I alone in the front seat with only the radio for accompaniment. Neither of us was listening to the thing, so I don't really know why it was on. Perhaps to serve as a distraction for Axel since silence is your own worst enemy when dealing with the unprecedented demise of a loved one.
Well, not that he loved me. Not after what I did.
I was unsure of how to say what I wanted to. I knew I wanted to show him my gratitude, but I was never very skilled at doing that platonically, if you know what I mean. I just sort of sat there, racking my cancer ridden brain for some acceptable clause that would show how deeply touched I was by his outmost concern and his chivalry for driving his ex all the way across the island so she could, quite literally, have her head examined. There had to be some way to put all this emotion into words. All this thanks and appreciation. A response to his benevolent gesture and uncalled for generosity.
But why jump through all of these hoops? The man has seen me without my make up on. And he's seen more than that—oh gods how he's seen more than that. He's seen me without my hair on, too. He's seen my retch. He's seen me drool. He's seen me bend over to take a shot in the ass. He's seen me cry and he's seen me belch and he's seen me do everything ranging from remotely disgusting to full blown horrifying. And guess what?
He's still here.
And I'm worried he won't approve of the way I show my gratitude.
If there's one thing cancer has taught me, it's pretenses be damned. Who cares about all that other external paraphernalia. Cancer is raw and cancer is real. And why should real life be any different?
"Thank you," I stated simply. "For everything."
Axel turned to look at me, sunglasses clipped on his shirt so for the first time I could fully look him in the eye in the daylight. He smirked, the way he did all those months ago in the back row of history class, and resumed staring at the road as he gently placed the edge of his hand over my pinkie, which was resting haphazardly on the arm rest.
It wasn't a full on hand clutch, but it was something. It was a beginning.
"You're not going to die," he stated, so full of certainty and reassurance and resolution he could have convinced me to vote him into office if he wanted to. "You're not going to die because I said so."
And for those three seconds, I almost believed him.
Alright. So. First of all I have to dedicate this piece to a couple of amazing people who have stuck by me through out these horrendous two years of sickness and illness (and no, before anyone asks, I do not have cancer. It's something else. But cancer sucks regardless.) These are the people who give me hope for humanity and are the reason I write. Without them, and their kind words and never ending consideration, I doubt I would be half of what I am today, and I most certainly would not be writing to the extent I do if I did not have them cheering me on every step of the way.
(In Alphabetical Order)
constance greene, crimsoneyedangel99, espeakus, hopeislost908, splatonthefloor, supersaiyanprincess, touch of grey
Also, this is dedicated all those who care about the completion of Repercussions enough to PM me and remind to work on it (ha ha ha ha.) That's next, I swear. And then Lethal Starlight and Nonsense Of Fools. And perhaps Flaming Shadows. The piece of crap that it is. That thing needs to be revamped. Seriously.
Oh, my apologies to Silver Moon for making this a thirty five page one shot! I didn't think you'd mind, seeing as though it is all Kaxel, and it is for your birthday, so I decided, ah, heck with it, I'll layer on the heavenly goodness.
I wanted to flesh out that Larxene/Namine substory a little bit more, but felt it tore away from the initial reasoning of the piece. I had a much more elaborate description in my head, but cut it out due to time constraints (this was only supposed to be a one shot, after all) and I wanted the focus to be primarily on the cancer, not high school drama. I suppose I could always write a sequel, or a part two or something of the like. Perhaps this would fare better as a parted drama. There was a lot to work with as far as emo/angst is concerned, and I kind of by passed that whole option to condense it down to thirty some odd pages. Hm. I'll have to ponder this later.
Okay, so I have to be honest here, I am not a guru on cancer medication. I can already point out numerous bloopers in my story, though, which were made intentionally for narration's sake. Like, for example, Kairi doesn't take any night time or morning meds in the car. Um, if she had that serious of a brain tumor, she'd be taking meds around the clock. And she wasn't. Also, another blooper: she'd be a lot fuzzier due to the Dilaudid than I made her (did anyone else even catch this stuff but me?) I forget what the half life of Dilaudid is, exactly, but she was pretty lucid for someone on narcotics. Another thing: I am not certain barbiturates are prescribed for cancer patients. They may interact with some of the other necessary meds, I'm not sure. I think it's safe to assume that Kairi isn't too close to her final days, for she was semi-functional when she had to be. And when brain cancer patients start to decline, especially when it is inoperable, I suspect they start to lose some pretty vital bodily functions that I didn't go into. Just like I didn't go into the logistics of why her tumor was inoperable, just that it was. I could have, but again, it was only a one shot, and I was more concerned about the emotions than the medical accuracy.
...Sorry. I want to be a nurse. I was trying to keep my facts straight. And on the account that some of them may not be accurate, I wanted to explain why.
And as for Shinichi! Ha! Bonus cookies to whoever can pin point what manga I plucked him out of! Originally, I wanted to make Kairi have a twin brother, simply so I could have someone else to bounce conversations off of in the backseat when Kairi was out of commission for whatever reason, and I could think of nobody from the KH universe that was capable of filling the spot. The closest I came to was using Tidus, but that just felt odd and somewhat wrong to me, so I refrained. (If anyone has any KH suggestions for the casting of Shinichi, please let me know. I'd be interested in what others think would make for a good Kairi sibling.)
Shin is obviously NOT an OC. He's from the manga NANA by Ai Yazawa. He was probably vastly OOC in this piece, since I really wasn't trying to write a Shinichi one shot, but a Kairi/Axel one. I like to think he was semi-alright, and he filled the need. (That sounded alarmingly disturbing.) Anyhow, I had fun writing as him, no matter how much I fan stretched his character.
Okay. So. I have absolutely nothing against Sunrise Avenue. At all. I had never even heard about them before the contest. I simply made fun of them as I would any band my prompt contained. I just chose to pick on their rhyming scheme.
The lead singer's kind of cute. Not really. Well, maybe. A little. I dunno.
Well, leave reviews if you'd like:)