Fugitive Firefly

Running away with the last bit of hope

Slowly leaving

"Now remember," my grandpa instructed. " She won't look quite the same."
"I know," I answered, not bothering to hide the annoyance in my tone. I know that dying people don't look that great when they're, well, dying. I took a deep breath and walked across the street to my neighbor's house. I wanted to just go in and see her and leave, to get this over with as quickly as I could. Debby and Amy were in the living room with my grandma. Emily, Amy's 2-year old, was asleep on her chest. There was some chatter coming from the down the hall. I would have to wait. I hate waiting.

I took my spot on the couch next to grandma and made small talk with our neighbors. I'm not even sure what we talked about but, finally, thirty minutes later, the nurse came out saying that we could go in now. Grandma jumped up as quickly as she could with her bad back and arthritic feet and I followed. "Now remember, she won't look quite the same," grandpa's words echoed in my head. But nothing, nothing could have prepared me for what I saw.

She laid in her bed, unmoving, the only sign of life being her chest rising and fall with shallow breaths and her big, blue eyes blinking every now and then. I knew that it would have been difficult for her to smile, to speak, but I thought that she would still have her nice perm. That she would be sitting upright in one of her sweaters. Instead her gray hair was slicked back, looking as though it hadn't been touched in days, and a pink satin gown covered her. She hated pink. She didn't even like satin too much. And yet there she was, dressed in a pink satin gown, as she looked to see who had entered her room now.

Grandma took the chair beside her and started talking. A conversation that, obviously, ended within 20 seconds. You try carrying on a conversation when you have throat cancer. But she did try, my neighbor, that is. Her words were softer than usual, and occasionally slurred. It didn't help that the oxygen machine was making all its clicks and whirs at all-too-frequent intervals. It took a minute for me to gain control of the tears (stupid things were falling without my permission) and I was fine...as long as I remained about a foot away from her. That didn't last long either. She looked at me and started talking, my cue to bend over and act as though I heard everything she said. I did catch a few words here and there and finally figured out that she was complimenting my hair and that she had always liked the styles. Now those salty drops were back again. Damn it. Grandma handed me a tissue, which only made it worse.

Then it was quiet for a few minutes, grandma and I at loss at what to say and our neighbor unable to talk. I managed to tell her that I was doing well in school and that I managed to get straight B's this semester (not completely a lie, but not entirely the truth). Her mouth twitched at what might have been an attempt to smile. Or an attempt to say something. But which it was, I wasn't really sure. She looked at me most of the time, not that I was able to really meet her gaze. I knew that if I did, even though I was outside my one foot bubble, that it would be too much for me to handle. I'd rather her see me looking down then looking at her with red eyes. She wished me a Merry Christmas and to tell Gail the same. I nodded, not trusting my voice to remain steady.

It was quiet again, except for the annoying machine. I shouldn't call it annoying. It was the only thing that was keeping her alive. And really the only thing that told me that she was, in fact, still alive. Eventually grandma and I left the room. I'd made sure the tears were gone before I faced Amy and Debby, but any sort of tough girl act I had was gone when I entered the living room. Debby gave me a hug, telling me all the things that you hear in sad movies when someone passes away, or is about to pass away, words I didn't think that I would have to hear for at least a few more years. We said goodbye to the girls and went back across the street, me serving as grandma's second cane.

I knew that people get old, that everyone dies eventually, and that a lot of times the death is sudden. And yet I couldn't wrap my mind around it. She had been healthy all this time, more agile than most women at her age. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, she was diagnosed with cancer and was suspected go very soon. "It's not fair!" was all I could think.

And we all come, tumbling down
No matter how strong
We all return to the ground
Another day gone, a day closer to fate
And soon we find it's a little bit too late.

Thanksgiving Kid

We were all packed in the car, ready to go to the Holiday Inn for our Thanksgiving dinner. Why we never have a home-cooked meal is beyond me, but whatever, it's their tradition. We get there a little early and, after having to endure much of my uncle's whining, we were seated. The waiter comes by some time later, asking how many seniors we had. He was polite and guessed two; my Aunt held up her fingers for "three."

He looked around the table, notepad in hand "so that's three seniors and...one child?" Before I could protest, I got a swift kick from beneath the table, my aunt speaking before I had the chance to. "Yes, three seniors and one child."

I shot her a look once he left. "I hope you're not too offended," she said.
"That depends. What's the cut off to be considered a child?"
"Oh don't worry about it. They go by rations, not by actual age.

I'm not entirely sure how much truth was in her words but how could one not be offended? I'm 20-years old and people still mistake me for someone quite younger. Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if the waiter wasn't younger than me. . . .

Thump thump and bump bump and oh no

Thump! Thump! What was that? I asked myself. It was late at night and I was getting ready to crawl into bed. Thump! Thump! it went again. There was no way sleep would come easy until the noise was investigated.

Maybe it was from watching too many horror movies as a child that caused my mind to race, but none of the thoughts had a pleasant ending. It was just me and my aunt in the middle of nowhere in a big, old house--a classic setting for many slasher flicks. I grabbed my yellow Bic pen--the sharpest object at hand-- and clicked it into stabbing position. Thump! Thump! Was it a clumsy burglar trying to find something valuable in the kitchen? Thump! Thump! Or was it my aunt’s body being dumped down the stairs and into the basement? Morbid, yes, but it does happen off the big screen.

Armed with a yellow tube of ink poisoning, I crept silently down the stairs, thankful that I’d lived there long enough to know which boards creek and which don’t. My eyes strained in the darkness, looking for a shadow that might spring into action. The door was still locked and the windows shut. I was almost to the living room where I’d left my aunt. Thump! Thump! She was laying perfectly still on the couch, face hidden behind the cushioned arm. A finger twitched. Oxygen entered my lungs once more.

Thump! Thump! “What’s that noise?” I asked her.
“Huh? What noise, dear?” It sounded again, right on cue. “Oh that,” she answered, and gave me the news.

My predator/burglar/anythingelsethatsbad was a fireworks display at a distant fair. For a school.

Slightly humiliated I plodded back up the steps, not caring if I stepped on every weak board. The fireworks gave a mock greeting as I entered the bedroom. I guess that Thump! was really more of muffled Crack!

You got me feeling like a child now

Everyone has something that they obsess over, something that takes a shameful priority in their life. For me, as embarrasing as it is to admit, mine is Hanson. Yes, the three siblings with long blonde hair who made several of my guy friends question their sexuality. They mmmbopped their way into the hearts of millions back in '97 and haven't left mine since.

They released another album after Middle of Nowhere, but it wasn't as successful. They disappeared soon afterwards, struggling with a record label that was more concerned about a fat paycheck than the creativity levels the brothers wanted to explore. For years I was deprived of fresh Hanson music. But just as death reached out a bony hand, they released a new CD. You can imagine the relief on my part, as well as on the ears that had to endure my complaints.

Now with their own label, 3CG, Hanson is creating the music they always wanted to. They've added several instruments and even allowed Zac to take lead vocals on a couple of tracks. One thing they kept, though, was their wonderful lyrics that had hooked me in the beginning. Now here's the exciting part. They're getting ready to kick off their tour and will be making a stop in Pittsburgh! This tour is unlike anything they've done before. As a way to raise awareness of the poverty-striken kids in Africa, Hanson will gather concert-goers for a mile walk . . . barefoot. They walk with and talk to their fans during this walk. Now picture a little girl who just found out she's going to mingle with celebrities. That's me only ten years older. And I don't even have a ticket yet! But when one does come into my possession I'm sure to make everyone within earshot either sick of Hanson or create another fanatic. The possibility of meeting one of the guys, talking to them, exchanging e-mails (hey! a girl can dream) has me on the brink of insanity. I'll leave you with some of my favorite lines by this awesome band and a quote referencing them.

You have so many relationships in this life, only one or two will last. You go through all the pain and strife and you turn your back and they're gone so fast.
- "Mmbop"

Sitting on the corner of nowhere road, just between I wish I could and I don't know.
- "Sure about it"

I find hope in your hate for me.
- "Great Divide"

"Jonas brothers are Hanson2008 with Disney behind them. How can you compete with that?"
-Aaron Lewis of Staind