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Amongst my Thoughts of Luna Valentina

I sat, my legs fidgeting, bumping against each other.
“Does anyone have a story they would like to share with the group?”
A girl raised her hand. Isaac looked down at the clipboard sitting on his lap. “Yes, Glynn?”
“I tried to kill myself last week,” she said without hesitation. My eyes widened as she tried to go on.
“Oh, let’s try to stick with some positive thoughts, okay?” Isaac spoke over her. She shrugged and continued her blank stare at the floor.
“Anyone else?” His voice was low, and sounded tired. I figured I would say something,
“I got a cat.” Eyes glared at me.
“No one cares, Asshat,” a boy said from under a large, black hood.
“Anthony, please,” Isaac said now with an angry tone, “Angelique is new here.” I took a deep breath in, and plastered on a fake smile that did not fit in with the other expressions. 
“Ok, well, I suppose we’ll meet back up this Friday, again here at the church.” People were already trickling out the door, he raised his tone “So, be safe and give me a ring if you need anything!” I could see he was trying hard, but kids like this seemed difficult to converse with.
“Thanks,” I murmured, flashing him a slight smile. He did not hear my shallow voice. I nodded my head, and quickly heaved my backpack over my right shoulder.

I gave a little wave as I shuffled out the exit. I saw my mom’s Civic in the shade. I shielded my eyes from the hot sun as I open the passenger side door.

“Hey, Hon.  How was it?” She did not look up from her magazine as she spoke softly to me.
“It was fine.”
She looked at me and placed her fingers on my arm.
“You have to get to know them;  I’m sure you’ll appreciate it.”
I really wasn’t in the mood for her common talk of how I need to be more
social. I shook my head,
“Thanks, Mom.”
The car engine was quiet and smooth as we drove.
As we edged up the concrete drive.  Mo, our new little cat scurried away from the moving vehicle. Dad’s car was already resting in the garage next to our rusty red tool box.
We walked into a not-so-pleasant feeling, the air felt thick. I peered around the corner and saw my dad sitting on the old kitchen stool, head in his hands. His briefcase slumped on the tiles.
    My mom’s smile faded  when she saw my dad.    
    “Oh Hon, what’s wrong?” His head stayed put in his palms. Her eyebrows were shriveled as her wondering expression was lingering on her pale face. He looked up at us, alternating eye contact with my mom and me. He paused.
    “Bunny passed away.”
Bunny was my grandma’s nickname that I gave her when I could not pronounce her real name, Bonnette. My heart sunk to my stomach. I ran to him, embracing him into my sweater-covered arms. I was terrified.  I felt my breath becoming short.  Panic flooded my mind.
Bunny had been struggling with thyroid cancer for 8 long years. I could faintly remember the day she was diagnosed, but the recent memories of her suffering were bold in my mind.

    I crawled into my cold bed as I flipped off my bedside light. The floral pattern of my sheets embraced me as I thought about my grandma. I was to see her this weekend for her 78th birthday. I had already purchased her gift. A little white box containing a gold necklace sat on my desk waiting to be opened. I pushed the sheets off of my now-warm body and made my way to the desk. I found myself holding my breath for no apparent reason.
A tear rolled down my face as I gently open the little box, placing the chain into my palm. I exhaled sharply, my breath jostling the delicate golden links. My hand is unsteady as my fingers clip the two ends together behind my neck. The little golden bunny charm slipped down my shirt, halting to an abrupt stop as the thin chain would not let gravity pull it further.
    I grasped the chain lightly, still looped around my neck. My eyes fell to a close, as I felt my heart beating in my chest, slowly, one beat after another.  I was living. The thought of how all of this could just stop at any moment was like fire in my head; it hurt to think about such matter.
    I toss my body onto my bed once again, and pull the still-warm sheets over me.
I feel my eyes shut, and my mind fade away.

    Breakfast was weary. I rubbed my eyes, a few lashes dropped, bringing pain. I jolted up, and scrambled to the mirror.
    “You okay?” My dad asked, swallowing his slightly soggy cereal.
My mouth was open as I rubbed my red eye. “Um, yeah.”
    Two little brown lines were wedged in the crease under my eye. My eye watered up and dripped down my cheek, washing the pain and lashes with it.
I let out a sigh of relief and went to finish my cereal.
    My spoon whirled in the ceramic bowl, as I talked, “What are we doing today?”
    My parents looked at each other with slight concern in their eyes.
“Well, that is really your choice, but we were thinking of going over to Bunny’s house and, well, picking up around there and maybe taking a little keepsake to remember her by.” I swallowed hard, biting my tongue.
“Are you sure?”
I nodded my head and murmured “Yes.” My voice didn't sound certain, but I knew that it is what she would want us to be doing.
“Whenever you are ready, we can head over there.”
She lived close to us. Only a couple miles East. 
I poured the remnants of my cereal into the sink and watched it whirl against the shiny metal walls, residue clinging, surface tension doing its job.
I had done it again, let my mind slip into the distance. I took an exhilarating breath and kept my emotions to myself.

    Walking into her house it seemed as if everything was slowed down. My breath was deep, yet quick.
The photo hanging on her wall was brushed with a layer of dust. I ran my finger through this slowly. The faces trapped inside the glass looked cheerful, so full of life. The expressions around me did not match. My lip quivered as I walk. More of the empty house was revealed to my eyes.
Everything was so surreal; I felt like I hadn’t been here in years because  we usually visited the hospital.
I remembered this place well, though. My family used to stay here when the economy was not in our favor. I say “stay” because my mom would not refer this place as our home. It was “all just temporary,” she used to tell me. Reflecting back, I realized it was just the sheer fact that she was embarrassed to be staying here.
I heard a voice in my head, the words being spoken to me were reassuring
“Keep your head up, My Dear, for this too shall pass.”
My grandma would say those words to me whenever I was feeling down.

    I felt a panic attack coming upon me.  It was compelling me to listen and follow the storm of emotions. I resisted with the clench of my fist. “Just this time, please let me win, let me take over everything.” My head hurt. The voice bursting in my head was not mine, it was constantly criticizing my every move, just waiting for me to give in.
    “Are you sure you are okay?” I sat down on the hard tile floor as my mom spoke.
    “Mmhmm, yeah I will be fine. Go ahead.” She looked worried, but nodded her head and shuffled past me.
    I proceed into Bunny’s bedroom. Her bed looked worn, and had small pellets of mouse poop. I picked up her jewelry box and peered inside. Among the heap of chains and little diamonds, one small bracelet caught my eye. I pulled against a bit of unexpected resistance from the bracelet’s side. The other pieces let go and I placed it on my left wrist, for the other side had hair ties lined up.
It fit well enough not to slip off. I felt pleased and put together. This would be my little keepsake.
    Hours passed as we shed tears, showed happiness was shown, and rejoiced in memories.
    “Are you interested in that support group tomorrow?” I scratched my neck.
    “I’ll give it another try” I said with reluctance. She gave me a kiss on my forehead as we walked out the door.

I watched my parents eat, their mouths in some strange unison; I was not hungry. I pulled a hangnail off with my teeth. The taste of blood spread around my mouth as I was immersed in my thoughts.

I woke up to my alarm loud in my head. Waking up early makes me feel accomplished.
I poured the coffee into my mug and add a packet of stevia. The sun rose up into the blue cloudy sky as I settled in the old rocking chair on the front porch. Cigarette smoke wafted into my nose. I looked over to see Arnold Bell grinning at me from his front porch across the street. I look away quickly with a glare.
“Hey Beautiful, wanna come sit around with me?”
I shook my head and gave my usual response: a finger up in the air and a sharp “No!”
“C’mon, it’ll be fun.”
I threw off the warm blanket shielding me from the slight wind and made my way into my house with aggravation.
I tipped my cup letting the steam and coffee slosh into the drain.
Getting dressed was simple for me. My wardrobe was mostly black with some light colors thrown in here and there. I pulled out a pair of leggings with a yellow shirt with “NIRVANA” printed on the front. This will do, I was not looking to impress anyone today.
I flashed on my phone, 10:46 looked back at me. At this point I was going to be late, not uncommon for me.
“Let’s go!” I yelled down the staircase. My mom sat on the carpet tying her shoes.
“Get in the car, you know how much I hate being late!” I smirked and twisted the brass door knob to reveal our car in the garage.

As I walked into the old basement church, it smelled of wax and sweat. A girl walked in. She was wearing a flower dress and she had a little smile. I couldn’t look away from her. She looked so perfect just standing there. Her eyes scanned the room and soon came to meet my blue eyes. Her smile widened as she walked over with her arm extended.
“I’m Luna Valentina.” Her voice was smooth and soft as she spoke.
“I new here, can you help me understand what it is like?” My mind was blank, I felt my cheeks blush. She does not seem to mind my embarrassment.
“Uh, yeah I’m pretty new, too.  It’s, um, just boring, I guess.  We just talk about our problems and have him talk about how Jesus will help us through.”
Her laugh seems contagious and makes me chuckle as well. Loud claps come from Isaac’s direction.
“Let’s go, guys.  Sit down!” I took a seat next to Luna as Isaac started off about how Jesus made us who we are and we need to accept that and pray for his help.
I felt something touch my hand. I look down and see that Luna had grabbed it. Taking a deep breath, I wrapped my fingers around hers securely. She squeezed my hand for a couple seconds, then loosened her grip. I felt my palm becoming sweaty; I stressed some more.  I didn't know what to think of this. I felt uncomfortable and strangely satisfied at the same time.
The hour proceeded with more of Isaac's talk. He announced that he were to play us a song on his guitar.

“God is faithful to us all, he loves each and one of ye’all.”

There were smirks on all of our faces. I shook my head and laughed a little.  When the song ended, applause came from Luna. We all looked at her, Isaac seemed surprised.
“Thank you!” he said with a little more confidence in his voice.

I walked out of the old brick building towards Mom’s car. A voice spoke from behind me.
“Hey, wait up!” I see Luna skipping towards me. My mom’s head emerges from the driver’s side window, and with a smile, tucks back in the aquamarine car.
“Do you wanna hang out?” I was again, unfortunately, left with no words. I nodded my head and replied with,
“Let me ask my mom…” I started to run over to her. “Can this girl I met today come over?” She looked happier that I had seen her in a while.
“Yes, of course, Dear.  Ask if she has any allergies.” I left that last part off as I  gave the answer to Luna.
We walked into our cluttered house. I had not noticed the mess until this moment. I directed her into my room not lingering in the messy hallway.
“You have a marvelous room.” I shrugged with hidden admiration for her comment. Talking to her always had a deal of excitement. Having that said, I have only truly talked to her a couple times, but her personality was presented in a way that was noticeable compared to others.
The time went on. We just talked, just purely talked about life, gently getting to know so much about each other.
We talked so long that we didn’t notice that we had missed lunch.  Instantly, hunger set in, and we went to the kitchen.
My mom and dad sat at the table both with cups of coffee in their pale hands resting gently on the grey tablecloth. They smiled when they saw us walking down the stairs.
“Are you two hungry?” my dad asked, not breaking his persistent grin. I gave Luna a glance of approval and nodded my head
“Yes.” I spotted the pizza box on our counter. Directing my gaze towards the cardboard box.
We sat on my roof. The wind whistled in through the window, now behind us. My hands were greasy as I chewed. I felt at ease when I was with her, like nothing was going to happen.
“I’m dying,” she whispered candidly. I paused my breath turning my head slightly towards the brown-eyed girl.
“What?” she repeated herself with the same mellow tone as the first time.
“It’s a shame because life is so worth living right now” she spoke, admiring the starry sky. I reached down to hold this strange girl’s hand as I closed my eyes.
I cleared my throat, “How much longer do you have?” Parts of me did not want to know the answer.
“I was sent home to die.” She unlatched her fingers from mine and started pulling at her hairline. It became to separate from her scalp. Remaining was a very thin layer of blonde hair. I swallowed my tears as I thought of my grandma.
It’s hard for me to think that this girl I just met was making me feel such pain.
“Luna, what happened? I thought you said you were only just depressed…” She smiled.
“Sometimes you just have to say what you wish was the truth. I have Hodgkins Lymphoma. At first I was going to live, no doubting it.” She paused.  “Then things went downhill.” I sighed, letting a single tear roll down my cheek. “I have done chemo, seven rounds now. Fourteen treatments each time.  I’m done.”
I shook, my head full of pain. I wiggled closer to her warm body.
“God, I was so sick, so sure I was going to die at any moment just a month ago. Chemo is a bitch.” We lay there, our clothes clinging to the rough shingles.
“Luna Valentina, you have changed me. I’m impressed.”
She began to climb back into my room.
“I should go.” She announced, placing the red wig securely to her head. I saw the time on my old alarm clock, 12:19 a.m.
“Uh, yeah do you need a ride, or something?” She shook her head, and walked down our oak staircase.
She embraced me with warmth.
“If you need anything, call me,” I say, still holding the odd girl close.
“We’ll see.” She winked, cracked open the door and shut it behind her with a breeze being washed in towards me.

My parents had already fallen asleep. I went to the kitchen, comprehending the day. Swishing a sip from our milk carton in my mouth I walked up the same stairs that she had just been on.
I hadn’t recognized my sleepiness until this moment. I didn’t bother to take my pills, tomorrow would be hard either way. I kissed the little golden bunny charm, dropped it back into my shirt, and fell into sleep.

I looked around me. There seemed to be two expressions you could be showing, a dull lifeless expression, or you had tears flooding down your face.
The open casket sat with flowers overflowing the table surrounding it. My uncle was at the wooden podium. The sheet of paper he was reading from was crumpled and stained. He shifted his weight as the mournful eyes watched him carefully.
I attempted to be present, but amongst my thoughts of Luna Valentina it was difficult.

“Keep your head up, My Dear, for this too shall pass.”

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