||[Jun. 21st, 2006|09:30 pm]
Scribite -- Write, you!
Michael's girlfriend in high school was a military brat with curly, fluffy red hair and a wide mouth. Liz's smile seemed to stretch forever across her face. She was spontaneous, funny, athletic, and smart, and Michael was in love. He often caught himself planning his future contingent on her plans. She wanted to go to Columbia. He worked hard so he could qualify for Columbia. She wanted to be a doctor. He decided to be an engineer, so he could get employed straight out of college with a well-paying job and support her through medical school. He daydreamed about her when she wasn't there -- just daydreamed of talking with her, touching her, making her laugh.|
That summer, the summer between their junior and senior years, something went wrong. Her energy drained from her. She started to sleep ten, twelve, fifteen hours a night. When she was awake she was irritable with him and everyone else. And then one day she just fell asleep and just -- stayed that way.
Unable to rouse her from sleep, her parents took her to the hospital. The doctors hesitantly diagnosed her with Kleine-Levin syndrome, though even those suffering from Kleine-Levin tend to wake up for four to six hours per day. They took blood tests and MRIs and more blood tests, but simply couldn't figure out what was happening. She wasn't in a coma, she wasn't dying. She was simply asleep.
Michael went and visited her in the hospital, first frequently and then more and more rarely as June waned towards July. It was summer. It was hard to sit in a hospital, shivering in the blast of the central air, watching Liz grow thinner and more transluscent day by day, IVs threading her veins, knowing his friends were at the pool while he was miserable.
As he watched her one day, he was struck by a thought. Kiss her. He immediately shook it off. That was ridiculous. Besides, she had a mask of some kind over her mouth, and they'd get mad at her. He took her hand instead, his fingers tracing the blue lines underneath her pale skin.
It turned out that was his last day at the hospital. The summer just caught up with him. He went out of town, and then started a temporary job, hung out with his friends more. And before he realized it, it was August, and he was walking his friend Jennifer home in the dark. The crickets were chirping, bugs hovering in the heat. They normally had no trouble talking up a storm, but for some reason, they were silent. Jennifer looked at him shyly, her dark hair brushing the side of her face with a soft touch.
It just seemed inevitable. They stopped at her porch, turning awkwardly to look at one another.
"Well, that was fun tonight," said Jennifer. "We should hand out more often."
"Yeah," said Michael, and leaned in to give her a hug. He often hugged his friends goodbye. But this lasted longer, and he felt his heart rate rise a little bit. "We should."
She pulled back to look up at him, but stayed in his arms, smiling shyly.
He leaned in, and they kissed.
The next day Liz opened her eyes, and swung her feet out of the bed. Her ever-pale skin was paler than ever, the blue and green trace of veins beneath her skin clearly evident. She was transparent. She shone with an otherworldly light. She was more beautiful than seemed possible.
At school that fall, Michael tried half-heartedly to resume a friendship with Liz, though things were forever changed. He caught a deep disappointment in her eyes when she looked at him, and it stung his heart. But she started dating other guys, and the shame he felt eased enough that they could start hanging out together as friends.
One day he asked her, "Do you remember what you were dreaming, all that time?"
She looked away, and said, "No."