Sneaking Away – Part Three
Maisee died before her parents even made it to the hospital. An acute lung infection that had been misdiagnosed as asthma. There had been a fluid build up and it was too late. There was nothing they could do. I lost the girl I loved in a matter of forty five minutes. She had just kissed me and then she was gone.
I watched Maisee’s mom fall on the floor when she got there. After her husband scooped her up, I heard her screaming all the way down the hall. She had made me grilled cheese only a few days before.
We left the hospital and went home. My parents didn’t make me eat dinner but they did make me shower. They let me watch tv and fall asleep on the couch. I clenched Maisee’s clip in my hand and heard them talking in the kitchen. My mother kept repeating the word therapy and my father was mostly quiet exept for the occasional low grunt I couldn’t understand.
I looked at the tv without seeing which cartoon was on. I let the light flash over my eyelids and pretended I was in the forest. I would find the fairies Maisee always talked about. I would beg them to use their magic to save her. To bring her back to me. But I fell asleep before I got my make believe answer. I don’t remember what I dreamt, but I woke with a violent start and tears drying on my cheeks.
On the morning of Maisee’s funeral, my mother sat me down on my bed. I was wearing a stiff suit that was a too big. My mother had insisted I would grow into it one day. That particular drizzly Friday was not that day. The material was itchy, but I tried to sit still.
“Maisee is up in heaven now, baby.” She said, her voice breaking. “She’s in a much better place, okay?”
I nodded even though she was wrong. Maisee was dead. And if there was a place to go after you die, Maisee would have gone to the forest. She would have joined the other fairies and finally have been able to use her magic.
There were so many people at the funeral home. They burst out of every door and the lines wrapped around on the sidewalk outside. When we came to the little coffin, there was a picture of Maisee resting on top. She smiled wide, her daisy clip pulling the hair out of her face. I blinked at it and shoved my hands into my pockets. I had brought the clip with me. I hadn’t let it go since I picked it up off the tile that day. I was going to give it to her mother when we went to shake her hand.
Maisee’s father was crying big tears that fell slowly down his rough cheeks and dropped into his moustache. Her mother wasn’t crying anymore though. Her eyes were heavily glazed over and she seemed unaware of everyone passing before her. Neither of them could look my parents in the eye when it was our turn to shake hands.
Maisee’s mother looked down at me, but I didn’t take my hands from my pockets.
“She liked you best.” Her voice was flat and I clenched my teeth so hard it hurt. “And you got to be there with her at the end.”
“Okay, honey. That’s enough.” Her husband took her elbow and my father’s hand came around my shoulder.
“And what did I get? What did I get, John? No goodbye! Just-”
“I’m sorry,” Maisee’s father said and led his wife from the room.
My parents quickly shuffled me through the funeral home. They stood on either side of me, shielding me like soldiers from the strange looks that were thrown at us on the way out.
The person beside me lets out a peaceful sigh and I am suddenly back in her darkened bedroom, away from my childhood, away from the girl I try never to think of. I slide off the bed and pull on my clothes. I grab my keys and slip away without turning back.
It’s early. The sun is just peeking out over the trees and I climb into my car. The gym will be empty at this time and that comforts me. I need to spend a few hours in the weight room, sweating and working and making sure I’m strong enough. I banish ridiculous thoughts of fairies and drugged up mothers and chest tubes and I drive away from the apartment complex.
From the rearview mirror a long string sways with the motion of the car. At the end of it, swinging before me like a pendulum, hangs an old faded daisy clip.
previous: Sneaking Away – Part Two
more by NOELLE CURRIE
photograph by Ondrej Supitar