• I’m running. I’m back home, a million blissful miles away from the bleep and tick of machines, years behind me. I hear him laughing, and I squeal as we kick up the leaves around us, scattering the wildflowers underneath the shade of weeping willows.

    Yellow and gold shafts of sunlight cascade through the canopy, polka-dotting the green grass that brushes my bare knees. I see a flash of shiny ebony, and he pulls me close, twilight eyes glistening as his nose presses into my hair. He smells like always; roses and cocoa butter. I’ve never smelt anything like it. His chuckle echoes around the clearing, and my eyes shine like stars. First love, they say there’s nothing quite like it.

    Pure devotion.

    “You really are beautiful.” Again, his breathtaking smile melts my thudding heart, and my eyes close is pure bliss. His soft, warm lips are suddenly on mine, as if his words hadn’t been enough to make stars explode across my vision…


    Bleep. Bleep. Bleep. The machine sounds erratic now. I wonder what the room will sound like when it finally stops. Being here, it gives me a lot of time to wonder. I wonder who painted the steel gray room. I wonder how many people lay here like me. I wonder about him.

    But that hurts, you see. To know I won’t see him again. Why would he want to remember me like this? White, fragile, so pallid and breakable. I choke, and my dry lips crack, I taste crimson. Horrible, metallic. Tears begin to seep again. It’s over, and I can feel it. I don’t want it to be over. There’s so much I’m going to miss. I’ll never wear a wedding band, or kiss a baby goodnight. This is it. A hospital bed and some drawn blinds. 20, and already the sun is setting on my life.

    Nurse bustles in. She doesn’t say anything. Why would she? I don’t blame her. I couldn’t say anything to me if I were her. What does one say to someone who is about to die? No, the nurse squeezes my hand instead. I recognise her. She’s always looked after me. There are tears in her eyes. I suppose this is marginally as painful to watch as to live it.


    “Would you sit quiet!” he says.

    I grin and stick my tongue out at him, so juvenile, but he laughs again. How can he put up with me?

    He slides the little gold band over the soft skin on my knuckle, and smiles the most heartfelt smile I’ve ever seen any human being wear. Just a few months and I’ll be walking down the aisle in a white dress. My mother will give me away, and my father and her husband will be smiling within our jubilant hearts. I might have a spray of flowers in my hair, if my friend has her way. And he‘ll be there, angelic in black, smiling at me as I walk towards him…


    The door creaks, and my heart hammers, as a sheen of ebony hair peers around the door, cautiously. He finds my eyes, and he smiles, but his heart isn’t in it. And we know why.


    “There isn’t anything we can do, but give you time.”

    “How long?” his fingers lace with mine, and I see him blink his tears away.

    The doctor sighs, and rests his chin on his fingers. He’s old, he looks older than he did when we first met. But I suppose, this isn’t an easy job to do, delivering news that shatters lives.

    “With therapy, we can give you six months. Without therapy… there won’t be much difference. The cancer is too advanced. It has advanced to your bones, and you will be too weak for treatment or surgery.”

    I’m not sad, just…blank. Like someone has just taken me out of my body and left me sitting across the room looking at myself. I see how sick I look. How my skin clings to my bones for dear life. Six months?…


    “How are you feeling?” he asks gently.

    “Great.” I smile, and my lips crack again.

    He looks like someone is twisting a knife inside him. His face just isn’t him. There’s not spark or smile, just a shell.

    He reaches out and touches my face, tears escaping his eyelids.

    “I prayed…every night this week. Just that you wouldn’t feel pain if you can’t stay with me.” he says hoarsely. He leans impulsively to hold me, and stops, afraid that I might break. I press one kiss to his lips, and fall back onto the pillow, exhausted by that one movement.

    He lies beside me. He’s warm, so warm. I must feel glacial to him. And his skin. It’s brown. He was always pale as a child, but now, even though he is ivory skinned, he looks so different to me.


    Flashing lights and sirens. People yelling.

    “What happened?”

    “She just…fell.”

    “You should’ve been watching her!”

    “I was! I just looked away for one second…” someone begins to sob.

    “Get her to the hospital!”

    I wake up looking at the same steel gray roof.


    I struggle with my eyelids. They don’t seem to want to stay open. So heavy, as if the lids are magnetized.

    “Please don’t leave me.”

    “I wont.” I wheeze.

    And then I hear it. He hears it, and the nurses come, feet pounding on the tiles. My heart monitor is making funny sounds. The beeps are irregular, and I hear my heartbeat, realising that the time between each thump is growing slowly.

    He’s crying, and the nurses rush to stop me from slipping. I see black. Just a black. My eyelids have just slipped shut without me noticing.


    “I won’t leave.” but the words don’t come. There is no connection between my brain and my lips.

    And suddenly, the pain just stops, and I don’t hear their voices. I don’t see his tears, or hear him pleading. I don’t feel my body; I don’t feel.

    And it isn’t black. It’s just… nothing.