I can’t help it.
It was something I was born with.
Not something I could have controlled.
But they say I only have two weeks to live.
It was benign before.
Now it’s malevolent.
Spreading across my cells like a tidal wave of death.
Doomed to spread disease to whatever it touches.
Mama always tells me I have a flair for the dramatics.
I think that’s why I write.
To get all these ideas out of my head so that the world can enjoy them.
Before I’m gone.
That’s another thing mama says.
To live a life where people remember you for what you did.
Not the money you made.
I tell her I have exactly forty-three dollars in her bank account and it’s not worth much anyway.
She laughs and tells me that I crack her up.
It’s only when she turns away that I see the silver lining her eyes.
I walked downstairs today to see streamers everywhere.
Mama tells me it’s my honorary birthday party.
As the doctors told me I’d die four months before my sixteenth birthday.
I think death day is a better name.
I tell mama so and she looks like she wants to hit me for a second.
And then her face sort of crumbles and she turns away furiously.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen her that sad before.
Not in my entire life.
Not when we got the news.
Not when the doctors told me that I had two weeks to live.
But when I told her that I was dying.
When I accepted my fate.
I think she was holding on to the idea that I wasn’t going to die.
That if I didn’t think it myself, it wasn’t going to happen.
But I cemented the idea into place.
I pushed her into the frigid cold waters of reality where she had no choice but to sink or swim.
Like a rock.
The streamers remind me of the last bloody entrails strewn onto the butcher shop’s floor.
Fitting too, seeing as my intestines are shutting down.
Maybe it’ll be mine up there soon.
Pink and gooey and fleshy.
And dripping blood like bright red punch.
Strung up for people to gawk at.
The cake looks like it was carved from marble.
Looks as gritty as if it was too.
I don’t think mama can bake to save her life.
But it feels somewhat good that she tried.
Even if it looks like semi-liquid cement.
People start arriving in bunches.
Twos and threes.
I wonder why we only know people with only children.
Is it a ‘birds of a feather flock together’ kind of deal?
Regardless, everyone looks at me with pity and sorrow as if I’m already dead.
Deathday is a better name.
At least we're upfront about it.
Pity is something that I, unfortunately, am quite familiar with.
Someone with more eloquence than me could say we were intimately acquainted.
If I were standing next to that someone, I’d smack them.
Stupid eloquent people and their stupid eloquent pity.
I got pity when I couldn’t concentrate in school.
Because my brain was sending me messages of death.
Images of blood-strewn battlefields that I had never seen before.
My fingers ached to put it to paper.
I got pity when I showed up to the writing contest and was disqualified because my writing ‘was unfit for a six-year-old and that I shouldn’t copy other people’s work’.
I got pity when I finally had to drop out of school because I was in the hospital every other damn day.
I got pity on my fifteenth birthday when I got presents that I would never be able to use because I was too goddamn sickly.
I hate pity.
I think if there’s one thing I hate more than pity, it’s a party.
That's what this is.
Not a birthday party.
Not a deathday party.
A goddamn pity party.
Did I mention I hate parties?
I never understood them.
The people are a major issue.
I don’t like people.
And then the food always sucks, the company is poor, and honestly, I hate everything about it.
No, no, no.
Hate is too weak of a word.
Despise. Loathe. Detest. Abhor. Resent.
All of those work equally.
Parties are not my thing.
Alright, I'll say it.
I was never invited to parties.
I was the odd kid who everyone hated.
I wander my house, smiling politely at the people who murmur at me sympathetically.
Internally hating them inside.
I see people that normally would avoid me in the hallways.
You know those people.
The popular kids.
The fashion queens.
They all turn to me as if I'm their...God or something and smile at me.
I shudder inside.
Mama calls me to the table after several rounds of mingling on my part.
I reluctantly make my way over to her.
She tells me to read something of mine to the group.
I stare at her as if she's grown two heads.
This is the same group that mocked me over my writing.
The same group who told me not to plagiarize.
She smiles encouragingly at me, and because she's my mother, I can't really say no.
I mean, I could.
But it'd break her heart.
And her heart is already fragmented into a million pieces, shimmering like broken glass on a velvety red cover.
So I groan to the laughter of the group and go upstairs to grab something to read.
I settle on Death Song.
It was either that or Silent Struggle.
Something I wrote when struggling to get said gory battle scenes out of my head.
Death Song is about my...well disease.
I come back down and sit down at the table while everyone else crowds around me.
And I read.
About the disease.
About my mind.
About how I hated myself sometimes.
About how I wish I’d never been born.
My voice cracks every so often, but I soldier on.
I talk about my mama.
How strong she’s been.
And how broken she’ll be when I’m gone.
I talk about my childhood.
The damn pity party I’m in.
I add stuff that wasn’t there before.
I pour out my soul to this group.
And...surprisingly it feels good.
I've had all that bottled up in me for so long that when it gets out, I feel impossibly light.
I look up from my paper to see not a dry eye in the group.
People that I've only ever seen sneers from are wiping their eyes and sniffling.
They look at me as if I was Moses reading the Ten Commandments.
And then they clap.
They applaud my story.
I've somehow become the star of the show.
But...it feels good.
To have something positive related to me.
So as everyone makes their way home and starts bringing up the excuses, I make sure to thank each and every one of them for coming.
Because life's short.
Unbearably short in my case.
But it's too short to hold a grudge.
Too short to complain.
Too short to not care.
And as mama drives me to the hospital.
As mama takes me to the ER.
As I feel my body relaxing and my organs failing, I turn to the window.
My eyes welcomed the sunrise, that iris of fire so pretty in its mascara of pure light.
I closed my eyes.
And walked toward that goddamn light as if it had wronged me, and I was going to shake its very foundations.
Because by golly, it had.