I couldn't understand where it went wrong.
My whole life just collapsed with one sentence no one should ever have to hear.
" My hair is impossible!" I whined, the brunette head of hair I owned becoming a rat's nest. Maddy laughed, grabbing a brush.
" Girl, do you even brush your hair?" she teased her own glossy curtain of hair.
My name is Noelle, but I go by Elle. My best friend is Maddison, but she goes by Maddy. We have been best friends since the third grade, but we are almost polar opposites.
Her hair is a blonde, when mine, as you know, is brunette. Her eyes are green-hazel when mine are a light blue-grey. I like more goth, skateboarder clothing when she prefers comfy casual. She's quieter and thinks before she speaks while I have a tendency to be hot-headed.
But opposites attract I guess.
Elle is my best friend, even though we are so different. We love doing the same things though. We love reading, hanging out at the boba tea shop during her shift. We also like rollerblading and making pillow forts in our houses.
Right now, she's tying her hair back in a fishtail, ready to go to the boba shop. " See you at the boba?" she asks. I shake my head. " I have to make a stop at the library first, but I'll be there in a half-hour."
"M'kay." she coughs again.
" You need to check out that cough."
" I'll be fine." She rolls her eyes and blows me a sarcastic kiss.
Honestly, Maddy can be such a worrywart, I think, as I sip on a Lychee Coconut Boba. I swirl a lone pearl around my tongue, satisfyingly crushing it.
I just feel a bit off is all...
I cough again, feeling extremely tired. Its almost empty, except an adorable old lady eating her boba one pearl at a time. I lean my elbows on the counter.
Maybe I'll just close my eyes for a few minutes.....
I was in the library, looking in the baking section when my phone buzzed with an incoming call. From Elle.
" Yes, is this Maddy?" It wasn't Elle, it was a man.
" Yes, this is her, why do you have Noelle's phone?" I demanded.
" My name is Dr. Aisling, and we took Noelle to the hospital because she collapsed at work."
What? The world seemed to be spinning.
" You were the only contact on her phone, miss. We're going to need you to come."
" How is she?" I was whispering now, my voice losing power.
" She's in critical condition, we advise you to come as soon as possible."
Noelle had leukemia.
I sat at her bedside, her face scrunched in pain. She tried hiding it by smiling, but she yelped as another needle was administered.
" She may lose her hair along the way through chemo.." I felt my eyes burn with unshed tears as I thought of her beautiful mantle of ebony hair would be gone.
"Hey, at least I don't have to brush it anymore!" she joked, but I could see her wilting inside.
Knowing I have leukemia is somewhat an "I-told-you-so" moment, and I feel guilty not listening to Maddy sooner.
But I'm not sure how long I'm going to live, because I have a secret I'm not even sure Maddy knows about, because I can't afford chemotherapy.
Once Noelle confessed, I was really mad that she never told me, but in the end, all I can feel is fear.
Right now, she's laying on the couch in my mom's apartment, while we watch Ghost Adventures, but she's fallen asleep, which she never does.
I'm worried because she doesn't have money to afford chemo.
And now, finding out she's homeless is a huge slap to the face,
that my best friend didn't tell me anything about her tough life at home merely to protect me from the harsh reality.
My birthday, when she remembered my favorite band and got me tickets to their live show when she probably took the money she didn't have, or when she bought all those snacks for Abigail's surprise party when I was sick and couldn't buy them like we planned. How did it not connect it when sometimes she'd wear the same clothes for a week, or that she always made excuses not to go on the school trip to downtown?
She gave me everything, and she got nothing in return.
I listen to Ambition, the soothing music tinkles in my ears as the doctor finishes with my needles. He smiled softly, plugging the syringes in.
" Sir? I can't afford chemo. I'm supposed to leave now."
" Miss, your friend paid for it just for two weeks." I was surprised. " Maddy?"
"No, your sister. Lilith, I believe?''
I nodded fervently, too tired to correct him that I didn't have any siblings, but our friend at school was named Lilith. I only had the strength to sip on the water he brought me.
Maddy came in a few days later, with the rest of our friends followed, all wearing orange shirts.
" Suprise!" they screamed, holding huge presents with orange ribbons. I was shocked but laughed. I opened them one by one.
Lilith had got me an orange bandanna with a steampunk print.
I laughed at the huge stuffed boba plush Xander had bought.
And I cried when Mandy handed me keys to her house.
Noelle was crying in the bathroom when I came home from work one day, the door locked. I knocked on the door.
"Elle?" I asked, hearing her sob. She unlocked the door and was holding huge chunks of hair in her fists.
I held her in my arms, kneeling to the floor until all you could hear was her uncontrolled sobs and the sound of Mxmtoon in the background singing of wanting more than restless mornings.
While Elle was at chemo, I ran to Xander's house, with all of us there hanging out. I asked him where his razor was.
In a few minutes, all the silky wheat that sat atop my head like a crown now lay on the floor like thrown socks. Lilith stood in front of me.
"Me next," she said, determined. I was shocked. She was really vain of her red curls.
I shaved a line and wanted to cry. She let out a tear, but it was too late. " Keep going," she said, brave as all her scarlet waves fell like feathers, the past now behind us, faded like an old photo forgotten in the wind.
My friends came in, Maddy had dyed her hair a bubblegum pink, Xander had rainbow highlights, and Lilith had frosted tips.
" Hey girl! How's our favorite rock star?" they yelled. I smiled weakly. " Nice hair guys," I said, feeling left out with my now-shaved head. They smirked like they had a dirty little secret.
" Thanks, except-' they pulled their hair, or wigs off, revealing shaved heads. " We don't have any hair!"
I laughed and cried.
I don't know if I'll make it. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't.
I have been given this mountain, so I can show others I can move it.
As long as I have Maddy though, whatever happens, I'll be okay.
Maddy stared at nothing, her boba drink untouched.
" You okay, Maddy?"
She shook her head like a mosquito had flown in her face.
" Sorry, Lilith. Just thinking about Elle. I miss her is all."
"We all do." We stared outside, the orange bandanas on our heads hiding our hair that we knew would be replaced, unlike our friend.
She could never be replaced.
" Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending."