I had a friend once. Just one.
She was the kind of person who could make you smile just by walking into the room, the kind of person who volunteered to help other and never hesitated to stand up to a bully.
I knew her for 10 years before she got the news, a month before her 19th birthday. A routine blood test came back with unusual results, positive for leukemia. She was dying.
But even when she cried on my favorite shirt, I didn't say anything. I was her best friend.
Her doctors and parents immediately started planning an extensive chemo schedule. They planned to fly out of state for advanced treatment. But she refused to step foot inside the hospital.
Some bullshit about wanting to live her last weeks as free as possible. In reality, she was scared. She'd seen what cancer treatment did to people, turning them into shells of their former self.
She didn't want it to consume her, to leave her half of the person she was before.
So the night before the treatment was supposed to start, she grabbed her savings, 10 years worth of babysitting and chores, dragged me out of bed and together, we got on the earliest flight out.
It was pure luck that we ended up there, in a remote cabin in the middle of the woods, living in some backwater county in Minnesota.
People said that I shouldn't have encouraged her by running away with her, that I was foolish to support her decision to escape from her reality. But even when they did, I didn't say anything.
She was going to go, so how could I let her go alone? I was her best friend.
The next few weeks passed in a blur. We hiked up the highest mountain, sat on the edge and watched the sun move across the sky.
We swam in the river till our finger pruned up and hunger settled in our bones.
We sat still for hours in the middle of the forest, waiting and watching as a herd of deer passed by, glancing in our direction before running into the woods.
And when she held my hand and begged me to come explore the caves with her, I said nothing, silently nodding my response.
It didn't matter that we almost got lost in that maze, hundreds of feet underground, with no map and no phone. I was her best friend.
And on the days when she couldn't move without her entire body aching, I made her soup and hand fed her till she was full.
I sat next to her and we watched tv shows for hours on end, moving only to get dinner again.
And when she broke down, a month after we first got there, gripping her ribs and coughing up blood, when she screamed at me to leave her to die alone, I didn't say anything,
just held her closer as she shook apart in my arms. What else could I do? I was her best friend.
That night, when the moon was at its highest and the sky was clear enough to see the stars, we hiked up to the top of the mountain and sat at the edge.
As we sat in silence, gazing up at the stars, she started to talk. About all the thing she was going to do when she got better. It was the first time she had mentioned her plans to me.
She preferred to focus on the present, claiming that there was no point looking to the future when she didn't have one. But that night was different.
She told me about how she was going to go scuba diving in the Barbados when her lungs got better. How she was going to climb Mount Everest when her legs got better.
How she was going to ride every roller-coaster in Europe when her heart got better. She talked and talked and talked until she didn't.
Until she sat silent on the mountain. Until her breathing slowed and disappeared. Until her heart stopped beating.
And even after that, I sat next to her on the same damn mountain, silent. Because what was there to say at a time like that? I was her best friend.
Years later, I wonder what would have happened if she had gotten the treatment.
Would she have been sitting next to me now? Or would she have died anyway? These questions frequent my mind, as I sit on that mountain, next to her grave, beneath the light of the full moon.
But in the end, it doesn't matter. Because I'll never leave her alone. Because she was my best friend.
Thanks for reading!!! This is my first time posting a short story, so please let me know how it was!