‘If you have any dirt, speak after the tone.’
‘Hi Sue. Sorry if my voice is very quiet. The nurse – Sheila – she’s really nice – is holding the phone close to my mouth.
‘All is crap and getting crappier. The docs give it fancy names and don’t know what to do. The physio has given up; my bones are too bendy and she thinks they’ll just break. As it is they freak people out while they turn me over. I’m not getting pressure sores but there’s nothing to make the pressure. I was always thin but now I’m made out of overcooked spaghetti. Once my ribs have softened I won’t be able to breathe.
‘It’s not that I’m talking about though. I need you to listen about Joe. He’s not dead. Really: honest. He comes to visit me every day. I must ask him why he didn’t come back to school. Look, I got it all wrong about him. You remember I thought he just wanted … you know … well, I still think that was part of it but…
‘When he visits he doesn’t hold my hand but slips his fingers under mine so it doesn’t hurt, well, I don’t even feel it really. He tells me about his day and, Sue, this is going to screw him up. He winces every time I get pain. I don’t think he can cope with the speed this is all happening. Like he thought we’d have months instead of weeks … days perhaps.
‘He loves me. How did that happen? I mean it’s not like I had much to offer. We both knew I was going to die when he picked me up after the second set of tests.
‘That’s when I saw that hungry look in his eye. I still liked him though.
‘I wish I’d let him. It would have been our high point. But I needed time to, you know, make sure he was sincere. Now I’d break if he even kissed me.
‘Look, when I snuff it get Chantelle to go out with him. She’s got the strength he needs and he’s got the love. Oh, and make sure Casey doesn’t take over as head girl. Let’s face it, if she organises the end of year dance she’ll be two years late and say the tarot cards guided her.
‘And stop believing in all that spiritual crap yourself. There is life and death: that’s all. Trust me I’m an expert: I’m right in the middle.
‘Am I sounding like a control freak here? Telling you what to believe and how to organise everything?
‘Do you remember that time, last year, with the fireworks? When I told everyone to light them all at once and people got angry because they were all trying to hide from the blast and didn’t see anything? Am I like that all the time? I am, aren’t I?
‘Sorry, I went a bit dizzy there. It’s happening more and more. You know, if I press my jaws together they bend. I can feel my teeth trying to fall out. I must stop doing that.
‘Make sure Miss Maxwell takes over the lizards in bio. Freakface will either forget to feed them or eat them. He’ll come to school wearing trousers made out of their skins and think he’s cool.
‘And Joe’s not dead. Did I tell you? He’s really nice. I thought I wanted tall, good-looking and clever. I remember being embarrassed when I cheered him on in that rugby match. Everyone thought I fancied him.
‘Sorry, I went a bit vague there. I hope you can still hear me. Maybe I fell asleep for a bit. Look, I reckon you should take biology, chemistry and maths advanced highers: you could be a doc…
‘You still there? Sorry if I’m being a bit bossy; you do what you think is right for you.
‘Hang on, Joe is here now. He’s holding the phone for me. When did he get here? Where did Nurse Sheila go? I feel a bit peculiar. Very weird. Stronger. I’m not flopping everywhere. I can move my arms. I can move my legs… Sue, I can move!
‘Joe is helping me out of bed. Lol, that’s the opposite to what I expected.’
©Gary Bonn: 2013