Why did I have to be left with Adam?
The floor was littered with paper, glass, and other gunk. The party got out of hand, people throwing bottles everywhere and yelling. The glittery streamers that once adorned the room laid forgotten on the ground, shredded and muddy. The tables were smeared with stains from the wine. The room smells like sweat. The lights were flickering, making the room look haunted. Some chairs were turned upside down. The room looked like a tornado went through it.
I had a plastic bag in my hand, trying to pick up the glass without cutting myself. I already have enough cuts. Adam is busy cleaning the tables, looking everywhere but me.
We work in silence for a bit, not wanting to start a conversation, the possibility of a fight lurking in the corner like a beast, growling slightly, its body ready to pounce.
“Where can I put this?” I ask finally, holding up a bag and looking at a spot above his head.
“Over there,” he mumbled, pointing to a trash can.
Oh, how I want to talk, but I know times have changed. I know that we will never be like how we once were, carefree and happy. But I can wish, and maybe, one day, my wish will be granted.
Finally, Adam sighs and looks at the ceiling, his voice strained.
“I’m happy you recovered.”
I can’t help it. I snort, annoyed at his statement.
“As if,” I say indifferently, my voice sharp and cold.
He glares, his eyes still on the ceiling. “I am.”
I resist the urge to laugh bitterly. “Sure, we’ll go with that.”
He finally looks at me, his green eyes as bright as I remember. “Why are you like this? I said I’m happy you’re cured, and you turn all bitter.”
I think mockingly. “Yes, I got cured, and, hmm, let me see… I think you abandoned me halfway!”
His face turns red. “So what if I did? You were always sick and moaning, if it were me, you would have left.”
I cackle, trying to keep my tears to myself. “I depended on you! I needed you, and what did you do? You packed your bags and moved to Mexico! Do you have any idea how much I suffered after?”
He glared at me. “I didn’t move to Mexico.”
“You might as well have! I begged you to come back! I called you, texted you, trying to make you come back, and you ghosted me.”
I sank into a chair, my toughness running away from me, tears slowly running down my arm.
Silence threatened to tear the room. The monster in the corner roared, happy it got what it wanted.
Adam squeezed my hand, his eyes reassuring, smiling a weak smile that I couldn’t return. We both know what’s going to happen.
Dr. Barn walked in, his expression grim, his hands holding a piece of paper, his eyes piercing mine.
“I am so sorry. You have stage four lung cancer.”
I wake up, IV tubes tugging at my arm. Adam is sitting next to my bed, his expression unreadable. I smile weakly, but he looks away. I could have sworn a tear rolled down his cheek.
“Please! Please, don’t do this!”
Adam looked up, his eyes different. He had a bag slung over his shoulder, his hand on the doorknob.
“I will. I am sick and tired of taking care of you every single day. I have a life too, you know, and I intend to live it”
“Please, please don’t go… I need you,” I plead, tears running down from my bloodshot eyes.
He scowled at me. “You need me, but I don’t need you.”
And with those last words, he left me melting in the foyer.
I gasped, my lungs trying to get some air but failing. I try to grab my portable oxygen, but like the idiot I am, I left it in the living room. I can’t get it. I grabbed my phone off the kitchen counter and called Bart.
“Hello? Chels?” Bart’s crackled voice called. He sounded worried. He knows I only call him if it’s serious.
“Bart, come. Quick,” I manage, the phone falling from my hands and onto the carpet.
I park my car, looking at the building in wonder. It’s been forever since I have been to a party.
I walk in, people greeting. Zetta runs towards me, wrapping her arms around me in a tight hug.
“Chels… you’re cured!”
She pulls me toward a group of old friends, and soon I am laughing, my new lungs greedily getting all the oxygen they can.
I felt a warm hand on my shoulder. Adam. I look up and am surprised to see that he too is crying.
“Chelsea, please, listen to me,” he whispered.
I stood up, tears still sticky on my cheek. I manage a weak glare. “I’m listening.”
He takes a deep breath. “There’s something I didn’t tell you. You got diagnosed with lung cancer, and two weeks later, I was diagnosed with colon cancer.”
The earth paused as he spoke. My eyes widened. I never knew that…
“I was scared. You were too weak and I was going the same way. I thought, in leaving, I was helping you. I now realize how wrong I was.”
“After I left, I got a job. Ever wondered why you got weekly envelopes filled with money? It was me. I was trying to help you while staying away from you. I was in touch with your mom, and she said you were recovering. She said you were coming here, and I wanted to see you again because I knew you were alive and healthy.”
He paused, his eyes sad and moist.
“Do you still have it?” I whispered.
He nodded slowly. I felt like crying again. “How much longer do you have?”
He thought for a moment. His eyes regained his old look, that intensity coming back.
“A year,” he said finally. I gasp softly. That’s barely enough time.
“Look, I understand if you hate me. I would too. I just want you to know that I- mphh!” the rest of his words were cut short by my lips on his. It felt good to do this, like old times. I pulled away and whispered in his ear,
“Then we’ll make it our year.”