Just for Fun: “Terminal”

Photo courtesy of Lorettaflame, morguefile

Photo courtesy of Lorettaflame, morguefile

“Terminal”

by Rebekah Postupak

Written for Trifecta Week 78 

275 words

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.

♦♦♦♦♦

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24 thoughts on “Just for Fun: “Terminal”

  1. I’ve seen this happen. I don’t know why people feel like they have to get in the action. It’s kind of sick, if you think about it.

    I felt sorry for her because it feels like she was squeezed out by those who didn’t really care for him any deeper than the illness.

    • It IS sick, isn’t it? Our twisted fascination with celebrity in all its forms. Thanks so much for your comments.

    • Thanks for the reblog! I agree; we are generally so self-absorbed, we make even others’ problems about ourselves. The few people who are truly others-focused stand out in stark beauty.

  2. I don’t think a friend is truly lost. She needs to stick by his side and stay with him through whatever comes. He’ll remember who was always beside him when it mattered.

    Thank you for linking up. Please don’t forget to come back to vote.

    • I love your optimism! That’s what I think too. Or at least if Patrick doesn’t come around, that she will find a way to learn from the experience and perhaps change her own once-pedantic future. 🙂 Thank you for commenting.

  3. Oh I so hope he will remember who his true friend is…I think that facing your own mortality would, in the end, force you to look at those around you and really see those that count. I have a friend with terminal cancer, she and I used to be polar opposites – she the tight-lipped, ‘never letting emotion show’ type, and me the emotional dreamer….her cancer has toughened, angered me (selfishly), and softened her and we have met in the middle with more of a connection. I’m not sure I’m one of those people in the story (I don’t believe I am) – it’s more how we have evolved. Sorry to ramble. A great thought-provoking read. 🙂 x

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’ve long been fascinated by our responses to death. This particular story idea came from watching a video of a teen dying of cancer, and how everyone responded to him/talked about him and his songwriting (which wasn’t very good–but you wouldn’t know that by listening to his fans). So both aspects struck me–our own obsession with celebrity and tragedy; and then the boy too, how he responded so vibrantly to his short-lived celebrity.

      To me both responses seemed only to compound the tragedy.

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