DANCING TOWARD THE SUN
"Psst- have you seen my wall post?"
My Facebook news feed is a blur I rarely consult unless someone beats me over the head with a tag or a 'psst.'
"Sorry, no. What's happening?" K's not the type to wrap herself up in "drama"—code word in the fandom for "something important to someone other than me."
"Go, read it. Please."
This was not good. My stomach dropped to the bottom of my pumpkin shell, and I clicked open her timeline with a heavy heart. "Hello, all…a dose of real life…twisted my knee…swelling…lymph nodes…oncologist…bones...6 month prognosis…"
I set my head down on my desk and let the relentless waves crash over me. I was going to lose my friend, my friend who had posted these tragic words and was waiting for me, right here in my kitchen, right inside my monitor, right now. I gathered myself so I could be there. I lifted my head and forced my eyes to that tiny chat box in the corner of my screen, her little green light burning brightly as I struggled to digest her tragic story and respond with the full measure of myself.
Every ounce of gathered courage dissipated as I took in the message she'd typed while I was reading.
"I need your help."
I stared at the words on the screen and they stared back. Murky waters, here we come. That delicate divide between fantasy and everyday—the fandom and "real life"—was being challenged.
I placed my fingers on my trusty keyboard, my instrument—for whatever that's worth.
They shook for a bit, fluttering over the keys looking for strength and direction. They even typed a few words…then erased them. Now, she must've seen that I was back. Born is typing…. her screen would reveal.
I can't say that I remember exactly, but I'm pretty sure the first thing I sent back was a colon-open parenthesis. I let the entirely inadequate yellow frowny face do my bidding, sending up an unwritten apology from my heart to hers. I'm sorry, K. I don't know what to say.
K's not one of my "fast typer" friends—the ones I can barely keep up with on chat. She's thoughtful in her responses, and there are times when I wait and wait between messages. This is one of those times. I looked at the damn screen some more and realized what I'd done. Could she possibly think that lame emoticon was the answer to her request for help? Shit.
"What can I do for you?" I typed. A question, but also, undeniably, an offer—tentative, but an offer.
She made me wait again. Pure torture this time. I pulled my hands off the keyboard so I didn't give her a quick response. (I guess I might be one of those fast typers, but this wasn't the time for that.)
Finally, the screen filled with words. K doesn't hit enter between sentences the way I do. She types out paragraphs of flowy beautiful poetry all at once. I read hungrily about her desire to get to LA to the premiere of BD2, her anxiety over whether her health would allow it. I did some math in my head, the kind you never want to have to do. I waited for the part where I could actually be helpful, because I don't have those kinds of connections, but K knows this. Finally, I saw it.
"I want to raise money for cancer research."
My fingers were already on the keyboard with the easiest answer I've ever given. Yes, of course, we'll organize a compilation. I can write, I can ask others to help. Easy. Done.
We chatted further about everything: her cancer, her children, her dancing, her husband. I stretched my mind to remember the wonderful details she'd shared with me through my stories and her lovely reviews over the year and a half or so since I began posting Once Upon A Desire. I'll admit; it's sometimes hard for me to keep things straight. We all have so many identities—one for the fanfic sites, another for Facebook, and of course, our "real life" names, so precious few of which I know. And my memory for even important details about people I love is sorely lacking, a quality that shames me greatly and hurts people I care about deeply on a daily basis.
But one thing I can rely on is my gut reaction to names. One day soon, when I have time, I'll sit down and search my review files and pull up all her reviews from all my stories and I'll remember everything. But without even looking, I know that her name conjures positivity. K's not simply a consistently supportive and insightful reviewer, she's become a friend through our mutual sharing of personal stories. She's one of the fortunate few with the kind of marriage to which we all aspire (or celebrate), and her comment during this conversation, "I want for nothing in my life," says it all.
As we talked, my gears were turning, as they are wont to do. (My husband claims he can see and hear them.) This compilation, how is it going to look? Directing her back to the topic, I asked if there were specific authors she wanted me to ask to participate. She listed some of her favorites right away (all of whom graciously and swiftly agreed to write). And the project began to take shape.
"What if we do this as an 'all-request' compilation, where each piece is an outtake or a story prompt given directly to the author by you?"
Her responses came a bit quicker now, excited by the idea and the possibilities of some of her favorite fanfic authors not only dedicating pieces to her, but actually extending her favorite stories in directions she might help direct?
"Really? Would they do that?"
"Um…yeah! So what's it going to be…a KEA outtake?" Of this, I was fairly certain.
No response. Where was my quick smiley face? Hmmm.
"I want you to write MY story."
My hands snapped back from the keys. I shook like a leaf in a thunderstorm. I knew there was no question I'd do it, but I was scared. And it got worse.
"This will be my gift to my husband. And later, when they're ready…my kids."
Tamping down my utter terror, I wrote, "Not TOO much pressure there, K."
"You realize, you're going to have to TELL me your story first, right?"
*smiley face* Yes.
Honored and humbled by the enormity of the privilege, I tossed out some initial questions, and we agreed to collaborate somehow in the writing of this love story, pieces of which had been doled out to me over the months we'd been getting to know each other. I asked if her husband would talk to me, and she sadly responded he wouldn't be able to, that "he was having trouble letting go."
"They'll never believe it," she said to me over and over again, amidst the deep giggles and airy sighs. Yes, I heard her voice on an actual telephone, and she heard mine. And I learned the name that other people in her life call her, and she knows mine.
I offer you this "Twifictionalized" version of Katalina's story, the best I can tell it in true collaboration with K. In many places, I used her exact phrasing, because there was simply no way to improve upon the sheer poetry of her love for her husband, "My Sunshine," as she called him repeatedly. In many other places, I've embellished shamelessly, painting with my broad brush the scenes she merely hinted at, endeavoring to create some reasonable likeness to the gorgeous tapestry that is their true love story.
As K wrote in that little chat box at the beginning of our first session (though we soon realized writing would be woefully inadequate):
"Let me get a drink and we'll start yeah?"
A/N: Dancing Toward the Sun, our true-ish E/B fanfiction version of Katalina's life and love story, is one of over 80 stories to be included in the Stand Up 4 Katalina compilation, a collection of Twilight fanfiction outtakes and one-shots written by your favorite authors at the personal request of our dear friend Katalina Roseph. Every dollar raised goes directly to StandUp2Cancer and provides necessary funding for cancer research to blot out this horrific disease.
To receive the compilation, visit our website at Katalina . fandomcause . info (remove spaces) and donate before October 25. Interested in writing, beta reading or banner making? Sign up by October 21.
Many thanks to Betti Gefecht for the gorgeous banner and chaya sara for her beta skills on this piece. And so much love to you, Katalina…oh, SURPRISE! xxx ~BOH