Faithful Readers – I cannot express how sorry I am that I have neglected writing fanfiction for so many months! It started like this: School was coming to an end, so I had to study like crazy for finals. After all that was done, I am part of a non-profit organization that takes up a large chunk of my summer! Being busy all the time, when I come home, I am definitely not in the mood to write fanfiction, which causes me to neglect this story as much as I have been! Anyways, I just reread it and have decided on a fate for dear Arnold.
I actually had to come up with a pros and cons list for both 'living' and 'dying' (I'm weird like that!) and I have finally come up with a decision. I hope it's a good one.
Helga emerged from the room with a look of disdain on her face. The friends that waited gave her empathetic stares, which comforted her to an extent.
And that was it. They had all said their goodbyes to their friend, now all they had left to do was go home. Truth be told, none of them really wanted to see each other at the moment. Everybody in the room felt that they needed some alone time now.
Hesitantly, they stood and stretched. In silent agreement, the teens headed for the door with their keys in hand. After a series of hugs and farewells, they were all going in different directions.
Eugene started his station wagon and slowly made his way out of the parking lot. His head spun and his eyes drooped but he couldn't stop thinking of Arnold and his white complexity and battered physique. The image would stay in his mind forever. He arrived at his house just minutes later. All the lights were off and not even the porch light was lit anymore. He had forgotten how late it was.
He crept into the house slowly and made his way to his bedroom. His mind was still cluttered with morbid thoughts and images as he crawled into his bed. He shut his lids tightly, hoping that sleep would overcome him soon but he was not lucky. The rest of the night was long as he tossed and turned in bed, wondering if that heart monitor was still going strong. He prayed that it was.
The sun rose slowly but surely within hours. He had not slept a wink.
Sid watched the rest of the posse depart as he stood outside the hospital, smoking a cigarette. Rhonda accompanied him, claiming that she didn't feel like going home. For a while, they watched the bare sky in silence. It wasn't uncomfortable, but it wasn't pleasant either. They both felt such an overwhelming feeling building inside of them.
"It's hard to believe," Sid commented, taking a drag of his cigarette.
"What is?" Rhonda asked.
"That he's just barely hanging on by a thread in there."
Sid stared at Rhonda, with her face smeared with mascara and eyeliner. His heart felt heavy. She didn't dare look at him; she kept her watering eyes on the ground.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be so morbid. It's just hard to think of anything else, you know?"
"No, no. I know where you're coming from. All I can think about is how tough it's going to be these next few days. I don't know how I'll stand it." She said shakily. Sid noticed her tension and put an arm around her shoulder.
"We have to stick together," He told her, "All of us."
She nodded, eyes filled to the brim with salty tears. A few spilled over, and Sid brushed them away with his thumb. Rhonda smiled, although it was barely visible, and wrapped him into a tight hug.
They pulled away after some time. Sid took one last puff of his cigarette before dropping it to the ground and stepping on it with his Converse.
"I better head home," Sid commented. Rhonda nodded in silent agreement. Once again, they wrapped their arms around each other before departing in separate directions. Sid approached his old, beat up truck and sped home.
He opened the door to the apartment as quietly as he could, trying hard not to wake his mother. When he entered, he noticed the numerous beer bottles on the dusty kitchen table and figured his mom had been drinking again. A sigh erupted from him and his heart felt heavy all over again. She told him she wasn't going to drink anymore. So much for that promise.
Slowly, he cleaned up her mess before grabbing himself a cup of water and retreating to his cramped room. He flopped onto his bed, which responded with a large creaking noise, and he felt suddenly drowsy. Within minutes he was asleep, dreaming of the hospital's white walls and stale smell.
Rhonda, on the other hand, didn't even try sleeping. She arrived home, feeling very empty inside. It didn't help that it was just her and her dad all alone in that huge house now. Her mother's jovial spirit no longer occupied the area.
Flicking on the light to her bedroom, she sat down on her couch and stared blankly down at the white carpet. The longer she sat and thought, the more vacant she felt. Scouring her room for something to keep her mind off of everything, she grabbed a fashion magazine off of her bureau and began flipping through the pages mindlessly. She stared at the pages but didn't comprehend anything they said. Her eyes became blurry as she lost focus of the magazine. Tossing it aside, she turned on the TV instead.
Her whole night was spent trying to keep her mind off of what had just happened at the hospital, which was so much harder than she thought. Sid's words seemed to ring in her mind. "He's just barely hanging on by a thread in there."
Phoebe hitched a ride home with Gerald, seeing as she did not have her own car yet. The ride was spent in silence, for both were deep in thought. After just a few minutes, they arrived at Phoebe's house. Gerald gave her a quick peck on the cheek.
"Get a good sleep," He added before she got out of the car. "God knows we all need it."
"You too." She called as she headed up to her front door and stepped inside. Quickly, she scurried to her room where she pulled out her diary and scribbled furiously. When Phoebe had something on her mind, she absolutely had to write it down. And so she filled pages and pages of her thoughts before the sun came up. Eventually, she fell asleep with her head on her precious diary and a pen in her hand.
When Gerald got home, he felt absolutely lost. What was he to do without his best friend? Who would he play basketball with on the weekends, or share a room with in college? Surely no one would ever be able to fill that spot. Best friends since kindergarten and now it might all be over in one measly second.
Absentmindedly, he slumped onto the couch and hit the power button on the remote. A sports highlights show was on but Gerald didn't pay attention to it. He stared blankly at the TV until his eyes burned and his mind was driving him mad. He thought about what he saw over and over again. He thought about his friends falling apart in front of him. He thought about what it was like to be in Arnold's state. He thought until his mind hurt and his eyes drooped. Finally, he drifted to sleep.
Helga was a wreck. Her whole body was limp and tired, and she felt as though she wouldn't even make it home in her current state. However, just a few minutes later she pulled up to her house and dragged herself through the front door.
The first thing she saw was her mother, Miriam, asleep at the kitchen table with a glass of brandy in one hand. Then, she heard Bob's snoring ripping through the otherwise quiet house. He was in his favorite chair near the television. Typical.
She entered her very pink room and stepped into her closet. Calmly, she pulled a box of all her diaries, from kindergarten to the end of middle school. They were all love poems written to or about Arnold. She remembered that when she stopped writing in them, she vowed to keep them forever. But she couldn't. She grabbed each one and ripped it down the seams. When she was finished, she took the remains of the diaries downstairs to throw them into the fireplace.
She didn't exactly care that she wasn't thinking very clearly. She just wanted them to be gone. To read those words again would be too painful. Feeling somewhat pleased, she crawled into bed and stayed there until she could see the sun peeking through her blinds, illuminating her tear-stricken face.
Everything is dark around me.
It is the weirdest feeling I have ever felt.
I feel suspended in midair, but yet I feel very grounded. My eyes do not see a thing, not even myself. I cannot blink. Come to think of it, I cannot breath, either. Yet, I don't feel at a loss for air.
I hear a quiet voice in the distance. It echoes.
"It's like there's no more air,"
The voice says.
"We can't breathe anymore."
And then silence. Pure, undisturbed silence. My ears seem to be the only thing working at the moment. The darkness around me engulfs my very presence. It seems as if I don't even have a body anymore.
"Do you know what you've done for us?"
A raspy voice cuts through the silence like a knife. Oddly, I feel like I can recognize this voice. Yet my mind can't conjure up a name or face. The feeling of familiarity comforts me.
"You have always been the only person I could talk to,"
The voice is soft, and it sounds distraught. Almost like it's pleading.
"No one else ever listened!"
The sudden loudness catches me off guard. This time, the voice is strangled and choking. Crying for help. Desperate. It upsets me.
My mouth feels dry. I move to lick my lips but I can't. I don't have control over myself anymore.
"…Nothing to shake the laughing heart's long peace there
But only agony, and that has ending;
And the worst friend and enemy is but Death."
A different shaky voice recites a poem. The tone is quiet and timid, yet strained. I can barely make out the words of this voice.
"I'm not giving up on this. And deep down, I know you aren't either. I don't know how I know it, but I just do. Trust me on this. I love you man, you know that? It'll all be okay."
The deep voice gives me a sense of reassurance. Unlike the others, this one is somewhat calm, although still shaky and uncertain. All of them have been so uncertain. But this voice has been the only comforting one. 'It'll all be okay', it said.
"What else can I say? I miss you? Yes, of course I miss you. Although I'd rather stick a pen in my arm than tell you that. But it's true. All because you were the pair of ears that listened. I had so many people surrounding me but they were all idle relationships. No one listened to what anyone else had to say, except you."
This person's voice is angry and coated with grief. I can literally feel the pain radiating off of it, even in my state.
"You listened. And you cared, and you helped, and you solved. I think so many people are shook up because you might have been the only pure, selfless and considerate person left in this world. At least, I know that's why I'm so shook up."
It becomes softer, the voice. Gentler. As if it's picking out the words very carefully and trying not to become worked up.
"I…love you. I love you, Arnold. Yes, me, Helga G. Patacki, loves Arnold."
My feeling of weightlessness disappears. I feel like I'm falling. The darkness around me remains. I still can't breath. My throat feels tight.
I fall for what seems like eternity. And slowly, but surely, I begin to see a light forming below me. My throat closes tighter, my head spins. An overwhelming sense of fear engulfs me.
And then it all stops.
It had been a week since all of the friends gathered in the hospital lobby. That is when they got the phone call.
First, the hospital had called Arnold's grandma, who called Gerald. He proceeded to call Phoebe, who called Helga, who called Sid, and so on. Within minutes they were at the hospital, standing in that same lobby that they had all spent hours in. Eugene was the only one to notice Sid timidly gripping Rhonda's hand for dear life.
They approached Arnold's room just in time to see his eyes flutter open.
Instantly, a feeling of overpowering joy filled them all. The first genuine smiles in days emerged onto their faces. He was alive. Ignoring the nurse's orders, they all rushed in at once. The room instantly became filled with words of elation and cheering. Some cried from ecstasy (mostly Rhonda) and some just held a simple, authentic grin on their lips.
Frantically, they asked him a series of questions (mainly, "How do you feel?" and "Are you okay?") His voice came weak but his beaming smile let them know that there was nothing to worry about anymore.
"Children, children, please clear out!" A nurse shouted from outside of the tiny room. Grumbling, they filed out, Helga being the last in the room.
"Wait," She heard Arnold whisper, barely audibly. She turned around and gazed into his bright eyes.
"Yes?" She asked, coming a bit closer to his cot. Despite his cut, bruised, and tattered body, he looked absolutely blissful. He opened his mouth, clearing it a bit, and then continued in his soft voice:
"I love you, too."
A/N: Yay! I finished! I really hope you guys enjoyed the path that I chose to take. I just couldn't let him die! Anyhow, let me know how you liked the ending!