I Get Along Without You Very Well
Updated: Apr 19, 2022
Dylan’s ecstatic to learn that his best friend, Eli, is coming back home. Nothing could ruin that special day for him. Everything goes smoothly until he learns the harsh truth when his childhood best friend comes back to him with tragic news. Will four days be enough to accomplish Eli’s wishes?
CHAPTER 1: UNCLE JACK’S
I guess the war wasn’t enough to kill Elliot Blythe, so he came home as a ticking time bomb, ready to go off.
10 years ago, on an ill-lit Friday afternoon, I scurried through the cobblestone road on Bluebell Street. The rain was heavy and poured down in torrents, creating shallow brown puddles. My vision was limited, and the hazy fog which masked the entire town was to blame. I was young and wide-eyed, dashing carelessly through the lifeless roads, slowly breaking my already worn-out Nikes. I had hoped to buy six apples from the quaint, homey store, ‘Uncle Jack’s, in an attempt to create an exceptional apple pie. I hadn’t brought a single jacket or umbrella with me, for it was bright and sunny when I had walked out that day. So I ran, and like a madman at that.
I laughed to myself as the crystal raindrops showered on my skin; besides, today was an incredible day. I arrived at Uncle Jack’s and took a break under the red and white canopy. I wrung my soaking black shirt, releasing a bucket of rainwater, and ruffled my damp hair. I wiped the soles of my muddy shoes on the mat, which read ‘WELCOME,’ and entered the shop. A bell chimed as I stepped foot inside.
‘Uncle Jack’s always gave me an earthy, serene feel, which is why I often visited the place. The heat from the fireplace crawled through my skin as I wandered the store. The place was dim yellow, and the lights flickered now and then as I looked through the array of fresh fruits and vegetables. The selections were colorful and pleasing to the eye. There were baskets full of ripe, juicy red apples, from which I picked six. I also admired the majestic dreamcatchers which hung on the wooden ceiling. Uncle Jack always told me that it reminded him of his childhood. “Well, you look absolutely cheerful, Dylan. What’s the special occasion?.” the store clerk remarked in a squeaky voice. I chortled, “It’s nothing.” I couldn’t help but let out a slight smile, “Eli’s coming back, that’s all.”
Eli was like an older brother to me, a brother that had left about a year ago to be an all-American hero. So, needless to say, when I received the message of him returning, I knew that my black and white life would be met with some color once again
In simpler words, I was ecstatic.
“That’s great news! So, just apples?” the store clerk repeated, noticing that I had zoned out. I laughed awkwardly while handing him a $5 bill, “Oh, yes, sorry.” He handed me the plastic bag full of apples along with some dimes. I thanked him and headed towards the bulky wooden door. Around this time, the storm had already subsided, and Bluebell Street was bustling with life yet again.
CHAPTER 2: THE PERFECT PIE
My respect for bakers grew that day as I watched myself fail and fail at creating an apple pie. Bowls of batter, spoons, and whisks, and cracked eggshells took over my cramped kitchen. I was already on my second attempt at a remarkable apple pie, and hopefully, it was my last. The oven dinged, and my face lit up in hopes of this being the one. “Please be good, please be good,” I whispered to myself. I slowly opened the oven, and a cloud of hot smoke puffed out. I looked at the supposedly “perfect pie,” and my smile quickly fell to pieces.
The crust was overflowing, and the apples looked inedible. It appeared mushy, and its flaws were overt. It looked absolutely horrendous. I took a deep sigh. “How in the world do you make a damn apple pie?” I cursed myself. I browsed through the few untouched cookbooks which sat on my shelves and scanned the television for any baking shows, and my tiny apartment slowly turned into the epitome of cluttered messes. I had no clue about what I was doing, and my ingredients were running low. It was not until 2 hours and three attempts later, that I created the apple pie I had wished for. Its aroma was like the warm kiss of cinnamon along with different spices. The crust was buttery yet flaky and sweet. It was the perfect balance of the bright floral taste of an apple and the warmth of a perfectly baked crust.
I was dead on my feet after baking for what felt like an eternity. Exhausted, I took a break and decided to lie down. My eyes were fixed on the clock, which ticked slower than usual. The faint ticks echoed in my ear as I waited for any sign of Eli. The pounding of my heart made its way to my throat as the tenth sheep passed the gate. Before I knew it, my eyes forced themselves shut into darkness.
Horns were honking and sirens blaring as I opened my heavy eyelids. I squinted at the sight of the blinding light coming from the television, which appeared to have been playing some guy’s talk show. My back ached from the uncomfortable position I seemed to have slept in, and I stretched my cramping arms outward. I rubbed my puffy eyes and licked my dried lips. “How long was I asleep,” I groaned. I trudged sluggishly towards my cellphone, which lay on the tiny coffee table across the room.
-Eli: Be there in 5 minutes-
“Already?!” I whispered to myself. I read it once more. A rush of serotonin shot through my veins as I frantically straightened my wrinkled gray shirt and fixed my red-checkered pajamas. My legs started twitching continually, and my exhaustion disappeared in a flash. I had anticipated Eli to arrive much later, so it came as an absolute shock. I wanted to throw him a welcome home party or even prepare a lighthearted speech. Unfortunately, the doorbell rang, and time stood still.
CHAPTER 3: ELI
I took a deep breath as my heart raced and palms sweated. Sure, I got to reunite with an old friend, but I wasn’t ready. The doorbell rang twice more, while I took a step closer to the wooden door which separated me and a brother I hadn’t seen in so long. My thoughts were clashing, yet my arm reached out. I held the doorknob with a firm grip and twisted it slowly, anxious but eager. It swung open steadily, and there, right in front of me, was Eli. He stood tall at 6’2, much taller than I ever was, in his green combat uniform. His arm was in a cast and the left side of his face, all bruised and patched up. Emotions rose inside of me, but the important thing was that...he was finally home.
I sighed with deep relief and instantly hugged him. Tears ran down my face as I embraced him. I was still shaking from disbelief and from the moment which had gone by so fast. It had been such a long time since I actually hugged someone, and I didn’t want to let go. I scoffed with tears still streaming on my cheeks and said in a raspy voice, “You bastard, guess you didn’t die then. ”
A series of bawling, hugging, and chatting followed. I let him taste my apple pie, and he praised me for my hard work. He told me stories of courage, in which he was able to save multiple friends’ lives, but that’s not my story to tell. We laughed and talked and dined, till the world went silent, with glasses of whiskey in our hands.
He suddenly talked about this recurring nightmare he had,
“Barry and Nick, my two closest friends from the troop, dragged me every night while I was asleep into the prison cell and held me captive.” He said shakily. “I would wake up all battered up, and they would feed me only a stale loaf of bread every day. And I couldn’t move in that hell of a dream; it never even let me dare escape. I was paralyzed.” He looked down at his fidgeting hands. “The whole camp would come and visit me just to mock me and spit on my face. They-” He hesitated and looked disturbed by the memory. “I don’t know, but when I woke up, I made sure to be extra nice and courteous to ‘em.”
I didn’t want to bombard him with any more questions about the dream or about what happened, since it was evident that he was still traumatized. The majority of his stories had me frozen in fear; they definitely weren’t for the light-hearted.
We talked about everything that day. We drank, and sang, and listened to a ton of vinyl records. They sure brought back a number of heart-rending memories. We chanted the words to The Beatles’ songs and played poker and blackjack. It was just like old times.
We were having a great time chatting and cracking up at each other’s jokes. It was the perfect moment until Eli, out of the blue, said, “Dylan, there’s um, something you probably should know-” The atmosphere quickly turned desolate. I looked at him bizarrely. What was it? Was it a girl he met, could I meet her? A military issue? He cleared his throat and rubbed his nape slowly. He then took a deep breath and cleared his throat once again. You could cut the tension with a knife. He stared at the glowing ceiling light, then looked me in the eye and said,
“I only have four days left to live.”
CHAPTER 4: FOUR DAYS
A minute of silence.
I sink to the floor, on my knees. The room starts swiveling around me as the walls appeared to move closer and closer. My throat starts closing up, and my head burns to the heat of a flame.
I drop my head down, breathing short, heavy breaths. “4 days left to live, four days left, four days,” I muttered, over and over. My mouth trembled every time those painful words exit my lips. I cover my head with shivering palms and stare into oblivion. My hands wipe down my forehead, unto my eyes, dragging the beads of sweat. Eli was about to...die?
“No…this has to be some sick joke,” I laughed. “This isn’t funny. What do you mean?”
He took a deep breath, “I don’t know what to tell you.”
He watched me as I knelt there, like a beggar. My eyes were pitch black and soaked in tears, all squished under my hands. I stayed there, motionless, wanting to disappear. I had no clue of what Eli thought of me, but I couldn’t care less.
“Sorry,” he whispered solemnly. “Sorry that you..had to find out this way. But, Dylan, that’s the whole reason I came back..you know? The doctors told me I have a brain tumor...it’s too late.”
I was too angry and overwhelmed to respond. Why didn’t he just leave me in the dark? Why did he have to get my hopes up? Why was he...about to die?
His deep sigh and faint sniffle broke the suffocating silence. I could hear the slight crumpling noise of paper. He took a note out of the pocket in his pants and gently placed it on the table.
“I wrote down some things I..hope to do before- you know. Here’s all of ‘em written down, I hope you-” He gulped. “I hope you consider helping me do these.”
He scoffed and smiled shallowly, “Night, Dylan.”
How could he be so...calm and composed.
I didn’t dare look at him as he walked out the door that day. I heard his heavy, muffled footsteps and the slight creak of the door opening. It shut abruptly from the heavy wind, and the chilling breeze blew on my face. Eli was on the verge of death, and there was nothing I could do about it.
CHAPTER 5: THE NOTE
The following day was dull and cold. The little piece of paper Eli had left on my table remained folded and untouched. My thoughts kept me up last night. I mean, your mindset can really change when someone tells you that they won’t be there anymore in a matter of days. I lay in bed, covered by a heavy white comforter, staring at the concrete ceiling. The cycle went on for hours. When Eli had broken the news to me about joining the military, I thought it couldn’t get worse than that. I couldn’t have been more wrong...I felt numb and frozen in place... paralyzed.
Hours later, I steadily got out of the chains of my bed and walked to the living room. 3:51 am. My eyes were drowsy from the lack of sleep, and my legs were heavy blocks of cement being dragged. I sat down on the rough cotton sofa and stared at the jagged piece of paper. I hesitated, but a piece of paper couldn’t be that bad, right? I sighed and quickly grabbed the note. Written in a disorderly manner, was:
THINGS I WANNA DO:
Try eating a plate of spicy wings
Go on a road trip to the beach
Eat a steak
Go to Cosmic Pins
Bike around town
Visit Bright Fields Orphanage
I stared at the ripped piece of paper dolorously.
Regardless of my effort, I sat there, motionless, like a statue made of stone.
The last request especially sent chills up my spine.
Bright Fields Orphanage.
Huh, I haven't heard that name in a while.
My chest tightened as I placed the paper back in its original place. I rubbed my forehead back and forth as I contemplated...
The final wishes of a man.
“Ugh, damn this guy,” I mumbled. I was no genie, but these simple things...though the reason behind them hurt like hell, I had to help him. I let out a deep sigh. His life clock was ticking; maybe I was being too egocentric.
I swiftly searched for the contact ‘Elliot Blythe’ on my phone and clicked it. It vibrated as the ringing carried on. I held the phone closer to my ear, patiently waiting for a response. Seconds later, I heard a faint click and a buzzing from the other end. “Hello?” He said in a hoarse voice. “Hi- um, I know it’s like 4 am right now, but about your note-” I gave out a brittle laugh.
I felt awful for the way I’d reacted to the news, so I sincerely apologized. Undoubtedly, I also imparted my openness to whatever he had planned or wanted to do with his remaining time.
We talked for a few minutes; however, I could hear from his voice that he was half-asleep. Ultimately, we decided to meet- up later at 9:00 am. I had no idea what his plans were, but he told me to pick him up at that time, punctually might I add. He also told me to wear something light, which hinted that we weren’t going somewhere cold anytime soon. I agreed and assured Eli that I’d pick him up as we said our temporary goodbyes.
CHAPTER 6: THE DRIVE
It was an odd sultry mid-morning, and I had arrived at Eli’s driveway right on time, just as he had requested. I sat on the driver’s seat of my relatively new car, restlessly tapping the steering wheel. “Where is he?” I whispered as I placed the ziplock bag of a chicken sandwich I’d eaten for breakfast in the car compartment. I stared out the window at Eli’s elegant-looking house, waiting for him to walk out the seemingly tall door. The AC was blowing harsh chilly air as the local radio played its usual songs.
Next up on our list, is the newest hit by OutKast, “Ms. Jackson.”
I vaguely bopped my head to the beat and smiled to myself as I sang along to the radio. It continued for a number of minutes as I bounced to the beat unknowingly. The radio was on full volume and blasting with music. Unfortunately, Eli had been right outside the window of my car door and was braying with laughter as I gave the song my all.
I realized that he was losing his mind out there only halfway into the song. I stopped singing and slowly turned my head to my left. My shoulders loosened, and I rolled my eyes. I unlocked the car door, and he walked to the opposite side and struggled to open the car door, as though he were drunk from laughter. I could hear his snickers as the door swung open. A wave of muggy air rushed in, along with the breathy chuckles which he attempted to hide. I scolded him as he bombarded the back seat with heaps of random items.
I raised my eyebrows as I looked at him fearfully, “What are you? An insane hoarder?” I scoffed.
“Well…” he stated. “First of all, you’ll thank me for all that stuff later. Second of all, today...I’ve planned for us to go to the beach!”
I quickly turned my vision to him, and my eyes widened. “Oh, what beach do you wanna go to?” I beamed.
I sighed in relief and looked down as I smiled. Romont Beach was the first-ever place where I touched sand for the first time and experienced the tranquility of waves gently crashing towards the seashore. Eli and I had gone there about four years ago to celebrate his birthday. It's a shame that the reason we were going there after all this time was...well, the opposite.
I straightened my posture, placed my hands calmly on the steering wheel, and stepped on the gas pedal, preparing myself for the long trip that lay ahead.
CHAPTER 7: CAR RIDES
Eli had been chattering nonstop about wanting to adopt a dog. He told me that if he wasn’t about to die, maybe he would’ve gotten himself a sweet Golden Retriever. Then, he could play with it every day and have himself a loyal companion. I was exhausted from last night, especially since I hadn’t slept a wink, but seeing Eli so passionate about such a simple topic, gave me some hope that he would be fine. The ton of bags he had placed in the backseat also proved helpful. Who knew that someone could be that hungry at the start of a road trip. By the time we reached our first traffic jam, Eli had already devoured two sandwiches and a pack of Skittles.
We had to make a pit stop since our gas was running low. Thankfully, I had noticed while we had a chance. Eli volunteered to fill the tank as I rushed to the nearest washroom like an escaped convict. I cringed at the small bathroom which stood before me. The walls were somewhat rusty, and the paint-job was messed up. I took a few dubious steps inside and looked down at an army of ants that crawled on the ceramic tiles. Who am I kidding? I don’t know what I was expecting from a gas station washroom. I rushed out of that disgusting place and saw that Eli had finished putting gas. We quickly sat back inside the comfortable car seats and pulled the door shut, ready for another round of endless driving.
10: 38 am
I can’t tell if Eli was a big fangirl of the Backstreet boys or if he was secretly the sixth member. He’d been singing all their songs word-by-word while stuffing his mouth with salt and vinegar chips. The unpleasant sour, tangy scent circled the car’s atmosphere, along with Eli’s terrible singing. I snickered at him as I chugged a can of Coca-Cola. The drive after our stop at the gas station was smooth sailing, although some deranged homeless man persistently knocked on our car window. We found ourselves stuck in a roadblock, and this man didn’t refrain from bothering our peace and quiet. We had already given him some spare change, but he threw a tantrum like a toddler and demanded additional food. Thankfully, a few minutes later, the cars started moving again, and he was forced to search for another victim.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, if you look to your right, you will see ROMONT BEACH!!” I hollered enthusiastically. The sun shone brilliantly that day, and birds soared in the clear sky with zeal and zest. Palm trees danced in the wind, and the beach was engulfed in joy. The weather was perfect, and the crowd which occupied the coast was just right.
I parallel parked the vehicle and took the keys out of the ignition, causing the AC to weaken. I encouraged Eli to get any beach items he had packed in the backseat, while I tidied up the car seats. When I had gotten out of the car I saw Eli wearing the most hideous thing ever. I stared at him for a good second before bursting into laughter. Despite my efforts to hold it in, I was taking short quick breaths. Apparently, one of the many objects he had brought was this humongous sun hat as big as Dumbo’s ears. Fortunately, he knew it made him look mad and saved himself from embarrassment.
We soon stepped on the soft, fine sand and did what a normal person would do at the beach. We swam in the turquoise clear water and played beach volleyball. There was a group of friends who’d also joined us in our game. In the end, the score was 26-22, clearly, Eli’s team had won with their freakish heights. They also offered to scuba dive and even provided us with the equipment for free. We saw a bunch of colorful fish that day, and, surprisingly, one of the members of that group told us information about almost all of the creatures we’d encountered.
Soon, the heat got to us, and we both agreed that we were genuinely drained. Eli told me that he had seen a spicy wing restaurant around the corner, not to mention that eating spicy wings was also on his wish list.
CHAPTER 8: NICK’S WINGS
The loud crowd at Nick’s wings got my stomach all twisted up, but I was excited for what was in store. Two waiters wearing red shirts with a chili print on them greeted us, saying, “Welcome to Nick’s wings! Do you dare try our flaming death specialty?” They handed us these large menus, which showcased their special buffalo wings and a gigantic picture of their specialty. Afterward, they seated us at a small wooden table with two red stools. They instructed us to press a shiny red button when we were ready to order, and we happily agreed.
They had a wide selection of food there, ranging from wings to fries, burgers, and many more, but how could we not be tempted to try the flaming death specialty. Besides, neither of us would back down from a challenge. We pressed the red button, and sometime later, the waiters came with two plates of greasy, sizzling, bright red buffalo wings.
They required us to sign a waiver stating that we wouldn’t sue them for any allergies or side effects. Sure, it was intimidating that the words expressing how dangerous this was were in bold letters, but once we both signed the paper- there was no turning back.
The rules were:
You have 5 minutes to finish 10 spicy buffalo wings.
You are allowed to drink water during the challenge,
The bone should be somewhat clean to be declared a winner.
Spicy wings will be on the house if all is finished in 5 minutes.
I took a deep breath after the waitress had finished reading the rules. They handed us each a tall glass of icy cold water and a pitcher to refill it with. They also gave us plastic gloves to put on.
The waitress firmly gripped a timer in her hands as Eli, and I glanced nervously at the plate of wings.
“Okay, are you guys ready?” The waitress asked.
“Yep,” we replied with anxious breaths.
We quickly stuffed our mouths with the burning buffalo wings. It was decent at first, quite tasty, actually, but then the spice kicked in almost immediately. My throat begged for water, and my face was burning, but I kept on going. Regardless, I was gasping for air, and I could not put into words how spicy those wings were. I sniffled and wiped my tears as I ate one wing after the other. The plastic gloves I’d worn already turned bright red, and so did my lips. My mouth went numb after gobbling only three of them, and I had drunk about half of my glass. I looked over at Eli, and he looked like he was having the time of his life. Sweat trickled off my forehead as I ate the fifth one; my mouth had become a fiery pit.
“Two minutes left,” the waitress announced.
Eli only had three left, while I had five. I gobbled up two more wings as fast as I could. Time was ticking. Tears streamed down my face as I chugged down glasses of water, refill after refill. The other customers had also started to cheer us on. Based on the waitress, someone had yet to complete the challenge for today. The customers began to gather up and chant while waiters paused to watch. Eli had one more left, and I had two. The whole area around my lips was smothered in sauce, and my mouth was in utter pain.
“One minute!.” she yelled excitingly.
I gave it all that I had and started chewing hastily. Eli was slowly finishing his last wing, taking it slow. Slimy, hot sweat dripped down my forehead, and the crowd’s cheers had gotten even louder.
“30 seconds!” The waitress stated.
My throat felt like it was closing up, but I was so close to victory. I clenched my teeth from the intense pain crawling up my tongue. The spice would not leave, no matter what I did. I gasped for air and swallowed my second to the last wing. Eli’s face was sweating tremendously, but he was almost done chewing. “3, 2, 1!” the crowd roared.
I swallowed the last piece. “WE DID IT!!” Eli and I cried out. The crowd went wild, and the waiters brought us these shades which read, “Spice King.” They gave us big bowls of ice cream, which we both quickly shoved down our throats. Once the pain had eased up, we laughed at the waiters, who congratulated us, with tears in our eyes. The waiter offered to take a picture for us in our “Spice King” sunglasses, and we thanked them for the experience. Our stomachs both felt like exploding after that, but it was a moment I’d never forget.
We went home that day, content and definitely full. Eli had told me that he would pick me up tomorrow at 2:00 for another day planned. We said our goodbyes, and once again night fell.
CHAPTER 9: BRIGHT FIELDS ORPHANAGE
Rain pummeled down the car roof, quick like arrows. I sat in the passenger’s seat of Eli’s car as he drove me to an unknown place. The sky was dark gray today. Who would've thought that colorless water would turn the sky so dark? We sat in silence, for Eli insisted on withholding the intention of our drive. The radio played songs yet again, but today’s mix was just plain ol’ jazz.
We’d been driving for about 45 minutes now. The air was cold and silent, certainly the opposite of yesterday. I looked out the window, bored out of my mind, with nothing to do. All I could see were rows of buildings and trees. It was then when a wave of deja vu hit me. I furrowed my brows as my heart rate slowly increased.
What was this place?
I concentrated on the dying oak trees and the gloomy houses.
Well, I’ll be damned, we were at Bright Fields Orphanage.
I took a deep breath and fluttered my eyelids. No wonder Eli had stayed silent. Bright Fields Orphanage indeed wasn’t something you’d be proud of. I don’t know why he even wished to visit the place. After all these years, the streets and the ambiance hadn’t changed. It was still...somber and straight-up horrible.
Eli parked the car on the side of the street, and we walked out in silence. “So...I’m guessing you know where we are,” he noted.
“Yeah, who would’ve guessed,” I chuckled awkwardly. “Bright Fields Orphanage, huh?”
We walked inside the dim orphanage as the children gave us the side-eye. Visitors were always welcome there, without the need to inquire or notify the elders. I quickly glanced at Eli, who wore a serious expression, and stared coldly at the halls. We entered the dining hall and saw the similar long wooden table where we had eaten from back in the day.
I still remember the exact date, June 2, 1985. My parents had unexpectedly died from a substance overdose. I never really understood what happened to them, but people came into my house that day and told me the news. They had asked most of my relatives if they were willing to take me in, but they all had their excuses. The next thing I knew, I found my eight year- old self in some man’s car, and we were driving to an orphanage. I hadn’t been entirely miserable since my parents weren’t around much. They would often greet me good morning at 8 am, then vanish for the rest of the day, only to have come back late at night.
The orphanage was where I met Elliot Blythe or Eli, who was thirteen at the time. His mom had died in a car crash, and his father left him not so long after. We’d become close friends there, and he gradually became a brother figure to me. We both stayed there until we were eighteen, and as time passed by, we watched our friends get chosen one by one by men and women who were willing to adopt.
Eli and I walked around the orphanage for several minutes. I’m guessing he just wanted to visit the place he’d called home for so long. Unfamiliar faces replaced the caretakers who’d taken care of us during our childhood. Although the site hadn’t changed in the slightest, their way of things had improved. Everyone seemed much more likable.
The kids were extremely delightful to talk to once we got to know them. We saw them play basketball on an outdoor court, and some were reading books. We stayed there until we felt that we’d overstayed our welcome. The kids even showed their unhappiness as we left while bidding us farewell.
CHAPTER 10: A GOOD MEAL
We both left the orphanage, dispirited from the memories, but elated that the children were having a good time. Eli drove us to this cool steak place in the city for lunch, and luckily, this time, the car ride wasn’t just deafening silence.
The steak place or “The Medium Cook” had the best steak I’d ever tasted. They served us medium-rare steak on these dark blue plates, and it was incredible. When sliced, the juice spilled out effortlessly, and the steak was grilled to perfection, served with a glass of cabernet. They also served us scalloped potatoes, which complemented the steak wonderfully. We sat at the restaurant for about an hour and thirty minutes, enjoying the delicious meal. Eli also decided to explain exactly what was happening to his body and why he would die soon. We had a profound and heartfelt talk at that restaurant since- I guess, I still couldn’t wrap my head around him...just passing on like that. He said that the doctors weren’t absolutely sure that he had four days left to live...or three now, so there was hope that he could live longer by a month or drop dead this second.
I took a cab home that day, as those words played on and on in my head. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but what if God had given him a chance to live?
8:00 pm was the time I’d been dropped off at my apartment. My mind was scrambled, like that static noise a TV would make. It was full of everything but full of nothing.
I told myself that I had to express my gratitude before he left this Earth.
I rushed inside my home and grabbed the nearest pen and paper I could find. I sat in my dining room chair with a yellow lamp shining brightly and started writing everything I had to say to him.
CHAPTER 11: A LETTER TO ELLIOT BLYTHE
Dear Elliot Blythe,
Crazy how time flies, you know? I can still recall the days in the orphanage when we were dumb and immature. Don’t even get me started on that Captain America comic collection you stashed under your bed. I have so much to say, yet I can’t put them into words. By the time you’re reading this, you might leave Earth soon. Who knows, you could be reading this in a month or two. Anyway, I hope you know that if I were offered a chance to switch positions with you right now, I would accept without a doubt. You’ve always had more ambition than me, and you deserve a long, full life. People will say death is inevitable, but I didn’t know it would come so soon. I can’t wait to meet you up there sooner or later. I hope you get to see your mother again, after all these years. I bet she’d be proud of how far you’ve come. Nonetheless, I just want to thank you for these incredible 16 years and for befriending me that day I stepped foot in Bright Fields. I’m glad that you’ll finally experience a life with no pain. Rest easy, Eli.
I made the letter in hopes of giving it to him on his last day; little did I know that it would never even reach him.
CHAPTER 12: THE HOSPITAL
My head was pounding as I smashed my beeping alarm clock shut. I rubbed my heavy eyelids and looked at the time. 9:30. I let out a deep sigh. Thank God it wasn’t late.
Eli had planned to go bowling at Cosmic Pins today and forced me to pick him up at 10:00 am. I had no choice but to agree- today was his last, after all.
I slowly walked towards my phone to check any new messages I’d received last night. I squinted my eyes at the sudden bright screen and looked through my contacts. I scrolled through several missed calls, which had me confused. I thought it was a mere mistake, but on my screen was a message that read:
Sent at 7:57 am.
Greetings, we are texting you on behalf of Elliot Blythe. He has experienced a seizure and has been brought to Willow Green Hospital. Please come here immediately once you have received this message.
I was paralyzed on the spot, lips trembling. Fear and anxiety crept over me, immobilizing my thoughts and body. My muscles tensed up as I took short breaths of panic and bolted to my coat rack, grabbing whatever jacket was nearest.
I sprinted out the door with car keys grasped tightly in my trembling hands. The color had drained out of my face, and everything was moving at a speed my body couldn’t keep up with. I was on the verge of tears as I waited for cars to move in the dreadful traffic jam. Nothing was going right, and I had no idea what was happening to Eli. I beat myself up for not hearing the ringing of my phone sooner or for waking up earlier. It had been more than an hour since that message was sent, and I had to be there. I had to hurry.
I dashed through the hospital doors as everyone looked at me like I was a maniac. I was biting my lips anxiously and moving my head left and right, trying to find the receptionist.
“Elliot Blythe? Elliot Blythe?!” I stammered shakily.
One of the nurses had noticed me sprinting around the hospital, desperately looking for a specific patient. She instructed me to go to room 432, and I thanked her hastily before running through four flights of lengthy stairs. My hands were still shaking in a strange trembling rhythm, and my heart throbbed in my ears.
Once I had reached the fourth floor, I sprinted through the long hallway.
427, 428, 429,
I looked to my right and saw room 432 and immediately rushed inside.
I stood for a couple of seconds, my stomach icy cold. My back was soaked in unpleasant, sticky liquid, which brought a deeper color to my shirt.
“Hi sir, are you Dylan Wright?” The doctor asked.
“Y-yes,” I blurted.
“Yes, um- Mr. Blythe has a very irregular breathing pattern at the moment,” He continued. “And, his blood pressure has dropped significantly. We don’t know what will happen, but we are trying our best to help him, okay?” I nodded apprehensively and quickly sank into the chair beside me due to my exhaustion. I looked around the room and saw a bunch of medical stuff, tubes and tests, which intimidated me. Eli lay there, unconscious, while I looked around the room. The nurses had all left the room to do some more tests or whatever they had to do. I sat there for what felt like hours. I did nothing but ponder on Eli’s state and if he was going to live. I would’ve liked to believe that there was still an ounce of hope left in me, but I was never much of an optimist.
CHAPTER 13: ROOM 432
Room 432 was an echo chamber.
My thoughts replayed back and forth, for there was no one to listen, but a man who lay senseless.
I found myself placing my hand over my dry lips, trying to stifle a scream.
Nurses came back and forth, trying to check up on Eli, but it seemed as if their medicine wasn’t working.
Why wasn’t he better now? His heart was still beating, but he wouldn’t wake up.
Today was supposed to be our last day together, not his last, no. We were supposed to go bowling, I was supposed to pick him up. Why were all these terrible things happening to him?
Regrettably, I’d lost hope in the doctors, the nurses, and everything in that room which struggled to keep Eli alive.
He was gone...sooner or later it would’ve happened anyway.
I saw family after family walk out of the hospital that day through the clear window from the door. They were all cheerful and most likely had received good news.
It was the orphanage all over again, but this time- I had nobody to relive it with.
Three hours later, nurses came rushing in with tools and other doctors. My head was spinning, and everything seemed so fast-paced. All I remembered was seeing Eli get shocked by a defibrillator. The doctors said he had a cardiac arrest.
I never understood the purpose of certain medical tools and devices, but experiencing the panic and rush during that cardiac arrest was terrifying.
The room was plain chaos, and I had backed away from the professionals in order to keep them focused. The doctors were ordering people around, and his heart was beeping unusually. I had no idea what was going on, but the next thing I knew…
There was a prolonged loud, beeping noise.
Everyone turned silent.
“Damn it, Eli,” I whispered under my breath.
“I’m so sorry,” the nurse whispered,
The words strangled my throat, pulling the energy out of me. I nodded, understanding what she meant. My head dropped down, ears ringing. Tears welled up in my eyes as I forced them shut. I had known this day would come but it still ate me alive. My lips were trembling and so were my chilly hands. The nurses wore a frown on their faces, realizing that they had failed. I sat back down and covered up my face for what felt like an eternity, hiding any sign of weakness. Soon, every nurse and doctor had left the room. I didn’t even get to hear his last words...or say goodbye. Today was supposed to be a great day. Everything I did, every move felt like sharp needles. I sat there with red swollen eyes, slumped into the chair, feeling miserable and alone.
I recalled this single quote I’d read in a book from the orphanage nine years ago.
It was a quote that goes, “It kills me sometimes, how people die”
I never really understood that. My parents were rarely home, so their death hadn’t entirely affected me, but look at me now.
That day could’ve been summed up with this single sentence.
It killed me that a brother who was always there now isn’t. It’s certainly awful when a person you know becomes a person you knew. I was familiar with the term, death, ever since age 8. I knew that one day, all of us would end up covered in a sheet, never to wake up, and though I never feared my own death, I never realized how much I feared a friend’s.
Deep down it felt like my veins had been injected with ice and electricity, wired straight to my brain. I found myself sitting in that warm, austere chair for 4 hours, still in disbelief. There was a part of me waiting for him to wake up and say it was all a joke, but unfortunately, that was nearly impossible.
“Soon enough, I’ll get over it,” I thought to myself. But that time wasn’t now.
I’d only left the hospital, 6 hours later, when I forced myself to go. Little did I know that I would find myself in the place where it had all started.
Once again, it was an ill-lit Monday afternoon, and I sauntered through the cobblestone road on Bluebell Street but having just lost a friend and the only family I ever had.