Should I? I shouldn't I? Shouldn't I? If only I had some sunflowers and a lot of time. I could spend the whole day plucking petals instead of sitting in the back of the car, trying not to notice what ever was in my stomach climbing up my throat.
"So…" my mom said, making me look up at her. She was peeking at me through the rear-view mirror. "You look a bit happier than usual today."
"Yeah…I'm feeling…" I looked back at my phone screen, pressing a miscellaneous button to make Cassandra's number come back to life. My eyes drifted over the many letters that made up her name that reflected the many parts that made her life. I wanted to know those parts, I wanted to know that girl. The one that liked a cancer kid like me.
"Feeling…?" mom asked, making me realize I had yet to finish my sentence.
I blushed a little as I looked at her in the mirror, "Optimistic."
She kept a laugh hidden in her smile. She had this all-knowing look as she asked, "It wouldn't have anything to do with that cute blonde who's number you've been staring at for the past half mile, would it?"
"What?!" I asked too loud, scoffing to play it off. The sudden use of my diaphragm made a spasm in my lower body. It started lifting inside me, feeling like little bubbles that would escape into a burp. But it was never a burp. I was never that lucky. I knew this Cassandra induced high wouldn't last long.
"Just text her!" My mom yelled encouragingly. I lowered my face to hide the blush and the face I made as I tried to swallow down the bubbles or the bile. I never once thought we would be having this conversation after leaving the hospital. It made me…hopeful again. "Come on, Matt. Just do it! It's obvious she likes you."
I shook my head, "I still don't know what you're talking about."
"Haven't we been through enough with each other?" she asked, making me feel guilty. I huffed to let her know she won, "What's her name?"
"Cassandra," I let her name out like I let out my vomit—unwillingly.
"Like the oracle in Greek Mythology," she noted. I nodded as I looked out the window, knowing she would see me. I looked at all the passing monotony and felt an increasing sense of doom. She wouldn't want this. She wouldn't want these trips. "She's beautiful…you know…she's not out of your league."
"Okay mom, "I said in the teen tone I hadn't used in a while. "Maybe we should stop the conversation here…"
"And further down the road…if you want to," I could see her planning how to say the next words, "express your love fear each other…I hope you know to use protection."
"That's enough mom!" I groaned, feeling not up for the conversation as the bubbles began to lift, "I don't have 'further down the road'…okay?"
"No. Not okay, Matt," she used her scary Mom tone. The one that made the teen in me shake a bit. "This isn't going to beat you. You are going to make it, Matty. You're going to survive."
"Yeah mom, "I said because I knew I had to..but her words fell on deaf ears. I didn't believe it anymore. Not believing didn't stop me from fighting…it just stopped me from being comforted. I looked down at my phone and made the dark screen vanish by pressing the center key. My eyes rolled over her name and number and I wished I had taken a picture. Just to prove she was real and really…into me. Suddenly a bubble made it too far up and I couldn't hold it back anymore," Mom…pull over…Now!"
Before I could squeeze out the 'Now!' she was parked along the shoulder of the highway. I ran out into the tall grass and dropped my hands onto my knees. I opened my mouth and it felt like everything that was in me just tumbled out of my mouth. I hated this part. I hated the fact my mother had to sit and watch me throw up. It made me feel worse, helpless, weak.
"Matt…are you okay, honey?" She asked. I stood up, sure I was finished with this episode until something else began to slide up. I hardly ate today.
I brought my hand to my mouth while the other waved her away, hoping she wouldn't look, "I'm fine! Don't look! I'm-"
I wiped my mouth only to allow another pile of throw up escape. I was disgusted with myself and I couldn't help imagine Cassandra watching me do this. I leaned forward to put my hands back on my knees. Why would someone like her want to deal with this? I let out a dry heave to be sure that was it.
I let out a deep breath and walked back to the car. When I got in I threw myself into the backseat, shutting the door behind me. I felt so weak and empty but this…this was a cake walk. This was a good day.
I looked around for my phone just to see Cassandra's name one more time but noticed something, "Mom…where's my phone?"
"Oh…I was just looking for the time…I think I sent a message or something…"she said as she handed the phone back to me, beginning to drive again with a satisfied smirk,"You know I'm technologically illiterate."
I grabbed the phone hungrily and looked in the outbox, "Mom!" She sent Cassandra a blank page.
"You act like I did it on purpose!" she shrugged, trying to hide a grin. I looked at her through the rear-view mirror,"Okay…so maybe I did…Well hurry up and say something!"
I looked back at the screen and opened up a new message to her. I felt like throwing up but I wasn't sure if it was in a good way or a bad way yet.
I wasn't sure what to send so I just texted: Hey
In thirty seconds I got a reply: Miss me already?
My face exploded into a huge smile. It was so sudden I didn't have time to hide before my mom saw me threw the mirror,"Did it work?"
I looked up to her smiling face with a blush,"What do you think?"
Laying on the shag carpet in the back of my van wasn't enough. Although it felt like plush and clouds, I still couldn't drift to sleep with my thoughts on tour. I had been thinking about the van itself to distract my mind from what I knew I really wanted to fantasize about. I wasn't ready yet to let it escalate in that direction.
But even sturdy mechanics, false bottoms, and shag carpets couldn't keep things innocent for very long.
The name brought the face and for once I was able to picture him without recoiling from the unavoidable future. I wanted to talk to him. To put the voice with the face as I let my minds eye trace the features of it with my invisible finger trailing down from his forehead and over the bridge of his nose. The pad of my index finger sending tiny waves of tingles as I pressed it to his lips telling him to "Shhh…"
I couldn't think about that. I had to plan, prepare, prevail. First: I had to think about his gentle state. He was sick…he was-I couldn't think it. This meant he was sensitive. Unlike mediums, the people in his…condition…were constantly being tampered with and pushed around by any spirit that was strong and smart enough to realize they couldn't fight back. At any second Matt could be possessed by anything from a dead bird to a demon. I had to take that into account.
Second: I had to assess the relationship between him and his family. If they were neglectful my job would be easy, but if they were a good family—caring, nurturing, wonderful— I could do nothing. Well…that was an exaggeration. I could do close to nothing. I would have to constantly take into account what they were thinking, what they were being exposed to, how much they could actually take. Normal people were just so …prissy.
And third: I really liked Matt. I couldn't help myself but get excited when I thought about him! When I looked at my cell phone and saw his name there, when I thought about him giving it to me, when I remembered him smiling. I couldn't help but let my mind roam.
I could imagine myself guiding him backward into the van. I could imagine myself dragging him in and shutting the door behind us. I could imagine his smile as he held onto me and I teased him with my kisses. I could almost imagine what he was packin-
I couldn't do that. I couldn't think about that. I had to be serious. But I couldn't be serious. I had never been in a relationship. I had never been kissed. I had never done so many things that I never once thought twice about. That was, of course, until I met him. He was handsome, he was cute, he was…insecure, and sick, and doomed.
Damn Matt, I thought to myself as I looked at my phone. Why didn't he text me? I wanted to call him myself but he was with his mom…I hoped that our conversations would be private. I hoped he would want to keep me locked inside of him like I wanted to keep him. I hoped our conversations would be things so secret we could never repeat them twice. Well…they had to be.
I mean, at one point I HAD to tell him. I had to tell him about what I was, what I saw, and what that meant. At one point he had to find out the truth. And he had to leave me. But why did that have to be now?
Suddenly my phone went off and I rushed to look at my phone with excitement…but it was only a blank page…What did that mean.
A new messaged arrived from saying simply: Hey.
God did that make my heart go wild. I looked back over the messages and felt an intense sense of love and hope and good nature and the second nervousness and uneasiness. I realized his mother must have seen him looking at my number and while he was away, probably releaving himself, she sent the blank message making him have to send something.
Man, did I love her already.
I replied quickly: Miss me already?
Although I was new to this thing I still had some idea of how I should act. While I looked over his "Hey" I smiled and blushed wildly, realizing vaguely: He kind of did.