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Remembering My Star
What they call hallucinations, I call flashbacks; portals which peek into another time and place. Back to a time when naptime was for everyone, not just the sick, and the only way to ruin your reputation was by stealing crayons or eating glue. Back to the day I met Toby.
I remember that day clearly for two reasons. First off, it was my birthday, March 5th. I was finally six years old, which meant I could count my age on both my hands. That faithful day was also the first time I had ever held hands with a boy, and this one was surely a keeper. I liked (since love was a grown-up word) everything about him, from his eyes like glimmering emeralds to the way he called me Tabby, since that was my favorite type of cat and I resented my full name, Tabitha. I remember what he said that day, which made me giggle and my cheeks turn the color of roses.
“You are the most beautiful girl in the universe,” he’d recited, “Might I have the honor of holding your hand?”
“Sure,” I responded, impressed by his sophisticated vocabulary and the fact that he had gelled his hair back that day, in honor of this very occasion. It took him three years to admit to the fact that his older brother had told him exactly what to say, and he’d practiced for hours before the big event. It was all worth it though, as we skipped off into an era of childish innocence and soft hands.
Now fast-forward ten years. Toby and I have reached the tender age of sixteen. We’ve been teenagers for a while now, enjoying life in the moment; kissing in the rain, sneaking out through the living room window, rocking out at midnight concerts. The rush of life was something we cherished, but we lost it all that afternoon. All it took was a hospital visit, and pretty soon our kisses became frightened little things, which occurred every day in case it was his last.
The boy I loved had become a prisoner to his own body. An aggressive form of cancer had spread to all the vital organs keeping him with me, tearing him apart a little more each day. Chained to the hospital bed, he can barely walk, and that rush for life was fading, I could see it in his eyes, which were beginning to lose their sparkle.
Seventeen days lag by until we receive a teary phone call, and it’s settled. He’s gone, evaporated into the air and floating away like dust in the wind. They say his body simply gave up, and everything shut down, just like that.
Except for that I know their lying, because the boy I know and love would never give up. In fact, he’s sitting right here at the edge of my bed, reminding me of all those moonlit walks on the beach and insane concerts which left a drum beating in my chest for days after. He’s sixteen, and he never had leukemia or anything seriously bad happen to him. I keep him safe in my heart, and part of it lies deep in his chest. He stops talking and I reach out to grab his soft hand, but feel nothing. Plasma, maybe? Except for that he’s not a ghost, he’s my own creation. I close my eyes and he’s gone again, but this time I know he’ll come back.
Mama used to tell me I should write movies with my vast imagination, but now she probably thinks I belong in the loony bin, just because my imagination’s come to life. I think maybe I’d like to write movies though, to plant magical ideas into peoples’ minds. Maybe I could end up creating a perfect world for someone, to ease their pain.
I’ve begun to write a movie for Toby, a story about a boy with eyes like glimmering emeralds who was just discovering life before it took an unexpected twist. About a girl named Tabby who was always there for him, who kept him safe. I write about a time before his lymphocytes stopped producing the ammo needed for survival, before his lungs collapsed and his liver failed. I write of all the wondrous moments we shared, before he was taken away and held prisoner in a cage for dreams. I write of a time when dreaming was the only thing to do in our spare time, and he sits at the edge of my bed and whispers to me what happened.
Soon I know he will have to leave, and that is when I will hook my projector up to the stars, after hiring actors and painting sets, so that he can gaze at my creation. So that he can look around him and still have that reassurance that I’ll always remember, I’ll always care. Only he knows that every night I gaze out at the stars and whisper his name, staring out at the light that shines the brightest, surrounded by a ring of emerald against the velvet night sky, remembering.