by Rebekah Postupak
Written for Trifecta Week 78
Before the cancer diagnosis, Patrick was quite possibly the most pedantic student at Central High.
“Sometimes I bore even myself,” he told me one day at lunch. This epiphany didn’t stop him from picking all the pepperoni off his pizza, though.
My friends called him RB behind his back, after the cases of Red Bull they swore I needed to hang out with him. Nobody understood why I loved him, how I could have found his unpretentious plainness… relaxing, I guess it was, or his quirky obsessions endearing. I didn’t bother trying to explain. How could I? Our love was deep. Extraordinary. Eternal.
If the cancer hadn’t suddenly seized him in its jaws our senior year, however, no one except me would have remembered him at all.
But “That sweet dying boy,” they called him now.
And “my good friend, the one with cancer.”
Or “this popular kid at school—yeah, I know him pretty well—he hasn’t got much time left.”
Even “Sure, I’ll talk about him on camera. What do you want to know?”
No one ever asked me anything.
Girls swooned over Patrick, walked around humming the stumbling tunes he played them on his clarinet, quoted his awkward phrasings like poetry. Boys were no better, clapping him on the back like a star quarterback, inviting him to sit on the bench during games as a good luck charm. Teachers, equally susceptible to the bewitchments of youthful tragedy, nudged occasional As into his report card just because they could.
The day we found out Patrick was dying of cancer is the day he began to live.
And the day I lost him forever.