…But now, as I think back on it, I can't help but think someone was watching us.
I was awoken to the feeling of something moving, jostling the warmth that I was currently snuggled so intimately up against. What that warmth was, well at the moment I had forgotten but it kept moving, pushing me closer to awareness. Suddenly it was yanked completely away from me, causing my head to fall on the bed and my body to jerk awake. My eyes flew open as I tried to find the source of my unexpected awakening. I swiveled my head to the side looking for someone who wasn't there anymore. Light unexpectedly hit my field of vision making my eyes water and squint against it. The light was emanating from the single bulb in the bathroom across the room, the door propped open to show a hunched over figure, body convulsing, and making horrible gagging noises.
"Matt." My voice croaked out. He seemed to ignore me and his body didn't stop trying to heave up what wasn't there to begin with. I yanked the covers off me, stood up on wobbly legs and began to make my way over to him. The cold cement hitting under my feet with every step I took sent shocks of electricity up my body, forcing me to become even more alert. When I reached him he was starting to calm down and had been reduced to heavy breathing. I kneeled down next to him on the floor by the sink he was still clinging to and softly trailed my nails in circles down his back.
His breathing became deeper and his grip on the sink relaxed. I reached up and grabbed a hand towel that was lying on the side of the sink, turned the warm water on and placed it under the spray. Matt turned to me with a look of fright and hurt in his cerulean eyes. I gently took his hands from the sink and led him to sit on the edge of the tub. I then grabbed the cloth and wrung it out. When I turned back to Matt he still had that strange look that I wasn't used to seeing adorned on his face.
I kneeled down in front of him and lightly began to dab away the sweat that had appeared on his brow. I spent that time racking my brain for something to say. I had never seen Matt do that before because Aunt Sara always ushered me away when things like that would happen to him. When I placed the cloth under his chin he breathed out a sigh and relaxed. I still had yet to say something to him. My heart seemed to be lodged in my throat and I couldn't speak. Matt locked his eyes with mine and said, "And this is why I wanted my own bathroom. You can't even talk to me now."
My eyes widened at his words. Was what he saying true? Was I really that shallow I couldn't show some compassion and soft words for my cancer burdened cousin? I leaned back on my heels and lightly shook my head. "You're wrong Matt." My voice was cold and hard, declaring my confidence in my reply. Matt snorted and turned his face away from mine. "Really," The word rolled on his tongue, his voice dripping with malice, "then why are you shaking and looking at me like I've suddenly grown three heads?" He paused to look back at me like a lost puppy. "I hate having you see me like this. Hell, I'm even sick of the fact that everyone wants to wait on me hand and foot because it's not just a kindness act for the kid with cancer anymore. It's a job for them because they know I can't do it myself." I just looked up at Matt with sorrowful eyes.
"But do you know what tears me up the most?" I shook my head slowly. I wasn't sure I wanted to know because it might just rip me to pieces. Matt leaned in and gently placed his forehead against mine. "It's You Wendy." I couldn't wrap my mind around what he was saying. "I hurt him the most? What did I do? Whatever it was I didn't mean" My thoughts were cut short by Matt continuing to talk. "Your looks that you give me, they just make my heart break even more." His beautiful eyes had started to glisten with unshed tears. My heart might have just been breaking along with his. "You look at me like I'm a little bird without wings and can't do anything. It hurts because I remember when you would come to me when we were smaller and ask me to come outside and play hide and seek with you, or reach up and grab the last cookie for you out of the cookie jar 'cause you couldn't reach, and the biggest thing I remember is when you came home after the eighth grade dance crying your eyes out because Bryson Matthews had broken up with you and the first person you went to when you came barreling through the door was me. Not your mom or dad, but me. I was lying on the couch and all of a sudden there you were holding on to me for dear life in my lap. I went straight to Bryson the next day and sent him to the hospital." Matt brought his hand up and showed me his knuckles. "I still have the scars from where I rammed that asshole through the glass door at school."
I stilled, transfixed by his hand. I was true. Suddenly my breathing started coming out unsteady and my eyes stung from the tears that were now rolling down my cheeks. "I would take it away from you if I could. The cancer I mean. I wish I could so much Mattie. You don't deserve it. You don't. If God wanted to give it to someone he should have given it to me. I," Matt suddenly cut me off. "Don't you dare say that Wendy, don't ever say that. I would never switch places with you or anyone else." He placed his hand on top of mine and laced out fingers together gently. "I would die faster seeing you go through this then I am right now. It would tear me from the inside out." I tried to stop crying at that point because it suddenly clicked how much I meant to Matt but that just made me cry harder. "Wendy you have to stop crying ok because I didn't rent a boat to get us up to breakfast, alright? He placed his hands on shoulders and started to rub softly in circles. He knew that always made me calm down.
I took a deep breath and got to my feet. "You're right. We should get up there before all of the blueberry bagels are gone, yummy." Matt made a gagging sound and stood up. "Are you crazy? Any more of those things and you're going to turn blue and I won't find you nearly as attractive and I'm sure you don't want that." He gave a breathy laugh and winked before brushing my shoulder with his and making his way out of the bathroom and up the stairs to the kitchen. My eyes followed his figure until he stopped at the top of the stairs and turned to look at me. "Well doesn't the princess want to make her grand entrance of the morning?" I looked down and blushed even harder then when he mentioned how he found me attractive. I decided that I should just enjoy it because Matt might not make it another month…. No! I scolded myself. He was going to make it. He was. I just had to keep strong for him. Not that I was doing such a remarkable job as of late but what Matt needed then was belief. Something I think he had run out of at that time. I turned my head up to him. "Please, I was just planning my entrance speech. The commoners need to be dealt with on a personal level." I stuck my nose up at him and reached my hand out in front of me. "Now, if my escort would lead me up to greet my people please? I don't enjoy touching those banister things." I waggled my fingers at Matt, gesturing him to hurry up. I quirked an eyebrow at me for a moment then decided to humor me. He bowed as low as he could with his burns and replied, "Yes of course Madam. How could I possible think you would actually lower yourself as low to touch those putrid things," He glided down the stairs to my waiting hand and placed his below mine so I could rest my hand on top of his. He gently glided me upwards then out into the kitchen. How stupid we were acting then, to actually fool around like we were in a different world, not noticing the horrid things that were around us at that very moment, but then again, I suppose everyone deserves some indulgence once in a while right?