By: Symone McCollum
It was a warm summer day in Funnyton village. The sun set perfectly on top of the hill while the cool breeze blew to ease everyone’s mind of how hot it was earlier in the day. The birds flew in the sky as though they were chasing each other. The stray cats were roaming the streets trying to find a place to stay cool. The kids were playing hopscotch in the street and the parents were home reading books. This suburban area was always peaceful, full of perfect people, and quiet. Little did the people of Funnyton village know that their lives were going to change quicker than they could imagine.
My family was perfect. There’s me, Anna, my mom Sally, my father Steve, my two little brothers Jake and Jaaz, and our dog Kenny. My father is a successful surgeon and everyone in town always goes to him when they feel bad about the way they looked. My mother is a house mom and takes care of my baby brother Jaaz. My mother and father have been married for 25 years. My mom had me when she was 19 and my father was 21. They often tell me that they fell in love the moment they laid eyes on each other.
“I can still remember how your mother looked the first time I saw her. She was wearing a pink shirt, half off her shoulder, half not. She had on these blue high jeans with these gold shoes. Her hair was in a brown curly fro. Her hair was blowing in the wind. When she noticed me, she kept trying to fix her hair after every breeze of wind. I thought it was cute. Man, your mother was gorgeous.” My mother raised her eyebrows as she walked into the room.
“Was?” my mother asked.
“Honey, you were and still are,” he said as he gave her a big sloppy kiss. Yuck! I walked away and went into my room.
I laid down on my bed, plopped my white earphones in and put on my favorite Beyonce song. Suddenly, I heard a big bang outside of my window. It sounded like thee tree outside banged into my window. I got up and went to open the door and crawled out onto my patio. I looked around and nothing was there. Thump! I looked around again and saw nothing. I plopped my earphones back in my ear and was walking back into my room. As I grabbed the handle I felt a hand grab me from behind. I tried to scream but it’s hand was over my mouth. I turned around to see who it was, and it was my boyfriend Mike.
“Jesus Mike you scared the crap out of me,” I yelled. I smacked him on the side of his face playfully and he laughed.
“I just wanted to surprise you.”
“Well congrats. How’d you get up here?”
“I climbed the tree,” he laughed. “I know you’re in trouble but I wanted to see you. Glad I got you not to scream before your parents heard us. Can I come in?”
Mike and I walked into my room and he started kissing on my cheek. I’m still a virgin and Mike knows I’m not ready for anything but he tries to test me anyway. Sometimes I like it, but sometimes I just want to talk to him without any of the extra stuff.
“Knock it off Mike. You know how I feel about that.”
“I’m sorry Annie. You know I don’t mean it like that.”
“It’s fine,” I said as I was pulling my shirt back up. “What did you come here for?”
“Well... sit down.”
I didn’t know what he wanted to say to me but I kind of didn’t want to know either because I knew whatever he wanted to tell me wasn’t good. Mike can usually settle for FaceTime calls when I was in trouble, but since he wanted to be face to face meant a lot.
“Whelp, what is it?” I asked calmly while plopping on my bed.
“You know those things you can’t control? Like the weather or when your mom tells you no?”
I raised my eyebrows. “Um, yeah. There’s a lot of things we can’t control like how you’re preparing me for this speech but won’t get to the point. What’s going on Mike?”
“Remember when we first met? Up at riverside park. You were walking your dog and noticed me staring at you on the bench? You kept trying to push your hair behind your ear but it was too thick so it just kept sliding?” Mike asked me. He started smiling, so I couldn’t help but to smile back.
“Yes. And Kenny kept barking at you so you got really scared and wouldn’t come up to me.” I laughed. I had to gather myself before my parents came upstairs to figure out why I was laughing so hard.
“I wasn’t scared Annie, that dog is just crazy?” He said while laughing.
“Yeah right. So what is the point of your story?”
“I just want you to know that I love you, no matter what. I will never leave your side okay? And I need you to promise to never leave mine. Promise me, right now Annie.” He looked down at me and his face was serious. His light face now showed cheeks that were red and his eyes now resembled eyes of hurt.
“Did you cheat on me Mike?”
“Dammit Annie! No. Just promise me.”
“I love you Mike. I will never leave your side no matter what. I promise.” I kissed his cheek. “Now, tell me what’s going on?”
“You know how I’ve been in and out of the hospital for months now. And they’ve been doing tests with my heart but yesterday they finally told me that I had a cardiac tumor. You know what that is right?”
I blacked out. This couldn’t be real. No, it can’t be. This had to be a joke. I felt my face go hot not because I was angry, but because I was shocked. My entire world was crashing down before my eyes. The love of my life could be dying! What could I do? What do I say? No...here they come. The water works.
“Babe, stop crying. It’s going to be alright.” He caressed my hand. He kissed my forehead and I decided that I had to get my shit together. If he was strong, I needed to be too.
“What are you going to do? Like what’s the next step? Is everything going to be okay? What did your mom say? What’s going to happen to you?” I started crying again.
“Annie, I am going to be okay. I promise. My mom is fine, she is dealing with it like we all are. But, that’s not all that I had to tell you. I met with this other doctor after I found out the news and he told me something different than my regular doctor.”
“What was it?”
He rubbed his chin. His face turned red and he turned away from me.
“The second doctor, James, told me that there was only one option. He told me that...”
He stopped. I held his hand and told him that everything will be okay. His face was full of tears before I knew it. I didn’t know what to do. I mean, I could easily be selfish in that moment and cry too but it wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about his mother or his family, it was about him. His life was on the line. I didn’t want to push him anymore, so I just laid his head on my chest and let him get it out. He’d let me know when he was ready to.
After he left, I sat on my bed looking up at my ceiling. My ceiling was painted with yellow stars from when I was a child. These were the stars I looked up to when something bad happened in my life. Like when my parents were talking about divorce, my dog died, and when my cat ran away. When I looked at these stars I kept thinking about Mike. I kept thinking of ways I could help, but realized there were none. Maybe I could give him my heart...but then I wouldn’t be alive. I just didn’t know what to do, but I promised to be there for him through whatever, and I’m keeping that promise.
Later that night, I kept calling Mike but he wasn’t answering his phone. My hands were starting to shake. A broke out in a sweat a few times while trying to take a nap and get my mind off of him. Suddenly I got a text in the middle of the night that said “open up.” I ran to my bedroom door as quick as I could to make sure everyone in the house was asleep. I heard my father snoring louder than anything else and knew it was safe to let him in. I tiptoed down the steps and went to the front door. I opened up and he was standing there. His hair looked like he placed acid on certain places because they were going bald. His eyes were red and puffy and his lips were dry. I hugged him.
“Come in,” I said.
He placed his bookbag down at my feet and hugged me. He kissed me on the forehead. His lips felt soft but rough. I held his left hand and with his right hand he picked up his bag and followed me into the house. We sat down on the loveseat and he laid down on my lap. I wanted to ask him why he didn’t answer me earlier, but I wasn’t going to say anything until he brought it up first. He kept rubbed my arm. His hands were soft and moist. I knew it helped him cope, so I let him rub away as I caressed his ear. After about ten minutes of silence and rubbing, he finally sat up and looked me in the eyes. His eyes looked like he was in pain. I tried to look away but I couldn’t. I wanted to know what he was going to say.
“I’m sorry about earlier. I went to go see the first doctor this morning and the second one in the afternoon. I’m just now getting back in town. Neither of them had any good news for me man. I don’t know what I’m going to do.” His face turned red. He put his face into his hands and left it there. I held his thumb in hopes that he would continue his story.
“The first doctor said I have a week to live. We caught the tumor too late in and it was no pills or anything they could do to prevent it. The only option we have besides me just dying is to have a heart transplant.”
“What’s wrong with getting the surgery?” I asked.
“It cost one million dollars Annie. I don’t have that kind of money. My mom doesn’t have that kind of money. No one can have that much money in a week man.” His eyes started to water but I wiped them before anything fell.
“What did the other doctor say?”
“Annie, what I tell you, you can not tell anyone. Can you promise me that?” he held my hand.
I knew something was up, but nothing could be worse than trying to deal with his death if I lost him. If the doctor had any news that could save him, I was game.
“Well, I went to the second doctor and I went into there scared of my mind. Annie, I’m afraid to die. It’s too soon for me to die. So, when I went to him he told me the same thing as the other doctor but he offered me one more option. He said that I can have someone else’s heart but I would have to get it on my own and the machine. The machine costs $10,000 but he said I didn’t have to buy it if I knew what he meant.”
I didn’t know what to say. “Do you mean...steal someone’s heart?”
He looked at me and grabbed my hand. “Uh, yes Annie.”
I brought my hand back from him. My face got hot. My hands started to shake. I started to get up but he grabbed my arm.
“So who’s heart can you get?”
“That’s the thing. And you can not tell anybody! But... I took Joey’s.”
My heart stopped. Joey was Mike’s little brother. He was only seven. Before I could even talk I started crying. I tried to get up and run away from him. He was no longer the boy I knew and loved. He was a monster! I know he’s sick and needs help, but how could he end his little brother’s life?
“So where is Joey?” I asked while tears poured from my eyes.
“I hid him in the basement. Mom thinks he ran away... I feel terrible Annie I really do but there was no other choice. He was right there.” He started crying. “And you promised to help me out and be there for me. Remember? Remember Annie? I need you right now. I need you to get that machine for me. Please Annie there is no other option. Do you want me to die? DO YOU WANT ME TO DIE?” He started yelling. As he yelled, tears poured down from his hazel eyes. I wanted to hold him, but I couldn’t bring myself to. He was a monster.
“You are a monster Mike. You killed your little brother! Anyone you could’ve chosen and you killed him! What is wrong with you!? You’re a monster. I hate you and get out of my house!” I pulled him by his shirt off the couch and tried to push him towards the door. He didn’t put up a fight. He let me. I started slapping his chest crying in frustration. How could he do that to his little brother. And imagine what he could do to me!
“I’m sorry Annie. I’m sorry. But you promised to help me. You have to help me.” He grabbed my arm to stop the blows. He put his hand on my chin and lifted my head up to look him in the eyes. When I looked at him I saw a little boy afraid of what was about to happen. There was a weakness in his eyes I couldn’t help but to feel for. I pulled my head away and asked him what he wanted from me.
“I need you to get the machine for me. The place is right up the street. They only have one security guard so it’ll be easy to sneak in. I can’t go because I’m becoming weak. I will get caught. Once I get this machine I’ll be alright Annie. Please. All I have to do is put the circular machine on my brother’s heart. It’ll suck his heart into it and hold it in place. Then, I place it on my heart and it sucks my heart out, shoots it on the ground and puts his heart in the place of mine. The doctor said it’s painless. Please.”
He kissed my forehead and held my hand. I couldn’t look him in the eyes though. Now I was stuck. Should I save my boyfriend’s life? Should I report him for killing a child? Would he betray me? Would the machine accidentally take my heart instead? I didn’t know what to do.
“If you do it, it has to be tonight Annie.”
“I’m sorry. I can’t Mike. Please, leave.” I took my hand away from his and opened up the door for him. He bent his head down and turned around. Then, he faced me, kissed me on the forehead and turned back towards the door.
“I never meant to hurt anyone Annie. I love you.” He walked out and I closed the door behind him.
As I laid down in my bed, I started crying. I wanted to know what could’ve happened if I would’ve gotten the machine for him. I would’ve saved his life, but I would’ve been committing and condoning a crime. I loved him, but because I loved him I needed to let him go. I didn’t want to apart of that. I kept thinking about him until my eyes closed. When I woke up the next morning, my mom was sitting at my bed side.
“Mom? What’s going on?” I stretched out across my bed and rubbed my eyes. She sat there with a blank face. Her eyes were red as if she was up all night. Her face was pale.
“Something happened with Mike. Get dressed I’ll meet you downstairs.”
Although I was done with Mike in my mind, I wasn’t done in my heart. I brushed my teeth as quickly as I could, threw on a top and some shorts and ran out my door downstairs. I grabbed my mom’s arm to get her attention because she wasn’t facing me, but she didn’t turn around.
“Mom? Hello? What’s going on! Look at me!”
When she turned around I jumped. Her eyes were now black. Her nose was missing and her mouth had green snake like features coming out of a hole. Her skin was purple and when she opened up to say something to me, it came out as a dry moan. Within seconds, she fell out on the couch. Her eyes closed, she lay there still. I ran around the house to find everyone else. I found my father in the kitchen, laid out across the table. His face was turned towards the wall. When I titlted his head towards me, his eyes were opened but he wasn’t moving. He looked exactly how my mom did, but the snake things in his mouth were still moving. I left his head dangling over the table and ran to find my little brothers in their rooms. They were still in bed sleeping. As I turned around to run and find help, Mike was standing behind me. He looked like my parents, but stronger and taller.
“Mike... what is going on? Did you do this to my mom and dad?”
He started walking closer towards me. “Yes. You hurt me Annie. I had to hurt everyone around you. Your brothers are next, then you.” He kept walking towards me.
“Before you kill us, how did this happen?” I asked, backing away slowly.
“Joey had a a good heart, but I grabbed the wrong machine. The one I took was nuclear and instead of leaving Joey’s heart as it was, it leaked nuclear acid on it that formed me into this monster. If you would’ve gotten the machine for me none of this would’ve happened. I just needed you for one thing Annie. How could you hurt me?” He kept walking towards me while his snake like features were snapping towards me... ready to bite.
Without hesitation, I took the baby’s stroller in the room, swung it at Mike and he fell back. I grabbed the boys and we ran downstairs. Mike wasn’t too far behind us.
“Come back here!” He shouted.
We kept running. I pushed the boys out of the way as Mike kept chasing me. I ran into the kitchen and saw my father had a knife in his hand. I snatched it and kept my body turned away from Mike. When I felt him on me I turned around and put the knife into his stomach. I twisted it and as his soul was escaping his monster features disappeared and his regular face was showing. When I realized it was Mike and not a monster. As he fell to the ground, I ran.
I grabbed my brothers and we ran out the door and up the street. We didn’t stop running. I didn’t know where we were going. I just had to get out of there. As we were running away the only thing I could hear in my ear was Mike’s voice saying, “Annie...why couldn’t you help me? I thought you loved me?”