A little piece of him

Harrison stood under the magnificent sunlight, the light highlighting his mahogany hair. His eyes were squinted and his brows were knitted in concentration as he tried to snap a picture of the receding sun. He then jogged towards me and handed me his iPhone to show the picture. I smiled and said that it was beautiful. He grinned and said that I was way more beautiful compared to the sunset while tucking a strand of hair behind my ear. I playfully punched his arm and felt how toned his muscles were.

We then walked in silence towards McDonalds. The throng of people started to ebb as it was getting late. Harrison ordered a Big Mac with large fries and a large Coke while I decided to try the new McCafe. I was torn between choosing the banana muffin, chocolate cookie or blueberry cheesecake. Eventually I ended up getting all three and a caramel latte to go with as I have a sweet tooth. I sat across Harrison who was already having a bite of his Big Mac. The sound of cascading waves and the dim light gave a sense of tranquillity. “Don’t you think it’s ridiculous to pay RM10 for a slice of cheesecake?”

Ketchup was all over his mouth. I like how he is comfortable enough to not wipe his mouth when he is eating with me. “Well it’s my money, so I’ll spend it with whatever I want.” I sticked out my tongue and made a silly face. He tried to smile with his mouth full and I gave a dorky laugh. Upon having a taste of the cheesecake I immediately regretted buying it. The cheesecake was too dry and bland; not to my liking. The muffin and cookie weren’t that good either.

After having a sip of the caramel latte, I plunged in my earphones and listened to my mp3. I took a moment to really look at Harrison, to really take him in. Harrison has an athletic frame. He is tall, slender and sturdy. He walks with a confident gait and always puts on a broad smile on his handsome face, showing off those pearly whites. His crowning glory is mahogany and he always keeps it neat by cutting it short. This makes him look more mature than his age.

People say that the eyes are the window to one’s soul. You could stare into Harrison’s pair of eyes and get lost in his beautiful soul. He has prominent thick eyebrows which is something that I always make fun of. His complexion is fair, a little too pale and his veins are thick and bulging under his skin.

Munching on some fries, he fished out his phone from his pocket “Hey your mom just texted me. She said it’s almost your curfew. I guess we better hit the road.” I finished my latte before following him to his old secondhand car. I switched on the radio to break the silence as we wind through the road. I turned to look at him as he seriously paid attention to the road. I smiled to myself. After about half an hour, Harrison’s car came to a screeching halt in front of my house. After thanking him, I entered my house and was greeted by my mother’s worried face. “You are late.” “But mom, I’m only 5 minutes late.”

***

We were walking down the path when suddenly I had an idea. I asked whether he wouldn’t mind exchanging his watch with mine or not. Without saying much, he took off his black G-shock watch and strapped on my nude Swatch. I smiled as I looked at his watch on my wrist. It seemed bulky on my skinny arm. I like the idea of taking a small piece of him wherever I go.

Afterwards, we decided have some ice-cream as the sun was scorching hot. My watch glistened on his arm as it reflected the sunlight. As I licked my cookies-and-cream ice-cream, Harrison tried to say something but the words seemed to be stuck in his throat. I told him that he shouldn’t be reticent with me.

He shook his head and smiled a sad smile which I had never seen before. His eyes reflected sadness and dread. I didn’t want to force him or anything so I decided to let it go. Then the sky was suddenly over casted by black clouds, promising rain. I didn’t know that the sky was a bad omen. Something bad was about to happen. “What if someone gave you a new heart for free?” The question was so sudden and unexpected. I nearly chocked on my plastic spoon. “Well I would be very happy if someone was nice enough to do so.” He was quiet and his face was thoughtful. I’ve never seen this serious side of him. Then he sent me back with the excuse of wanting to rest. I said thank you and good bye and soon he was on his way.

***

Weeks later I received a letter from the hospital informing me that someone agreed to donate me his heart. I was over the moon as I was in need of a new heart. But suddenly the idea of using someone’s heart felt weird and repulsive. I mean, to be using a total stranger’s internal organ was freaking me out but since my heart was so weak and frail I guess taking a total stranger’s heart was the only way to stay alive.

Excitedly I rang Harrison. After 24 seconds Harrison answered. His voice was shaky and he was sobbing. I immediately forgot about my good news and asked him what was bothering him. He tried to sound firm but his cracked voice says otherwise. He then asked me why I called him. There was a long pause, the good news hanging in the thick air. I shrugged my intention off and said I’ll see him tomorrow.

***

We sat across each other cross-legged under a huge tree. Harrison looked paler and he seemed to have shrunken. He doesn’t look healthy at all. His eyes were no longer the window to contented soul but a window dark soul. All live has been sucked out of him. He raised his left arm slowly to brush away a fallen flower from my hair. I smiled and he smiled back weakly as if it was painful for him to even smile. He rummaged through his backpack and brought out a neatly wrapped present. As far as I’m concerned my birthday is in another for months and it wasn’t any public holiday today.

Reluctantly I extended my hand and took his gift. He nodded as if saying that I should unwarp it. So I unwrapped it and soon discovered that he had given me his favourite book; “The Book Thief”. His father had given him the book on his 17th birthday and he had fallen in love with the story since he read the first page.

I was baffled why he was giving me his most loved possession, his treasure. I handed him back the book but he was adamant that I should keep it. He asked me to read the book and I nodded in agreement.

***

Slowly I opened my eyes and instantly I regretted doing so. The light was so bright I think my retina might have got burnt. Slowly I reopened my eyes and adjusted to the brightness. A constant beeping could be heard breaking the eerie silence. My head was spinning and suddenly it hit me. I was in the hospital. Moments later a nurse came in with a tray of food. “Good morning, love. Here’s some healthy food to revive your strength. You need the energy after all that sleep.” She put the tray of food on the coffee table next to my bed. She then left me alone in the room.

I looked at the soggy ham sandwhich, steamy hot chocolate and black grapes. I had no appetite to eat so I took “The Book Thief” instead. On the book was a piece of paper with my mother’s careful cursive handwriting. “Dear Rania, I’m out to get you some food since the food they serve at the hospital isn’t very appetizing.” I opened the book and submerged myself into its world. I could easily see why Harrison loved the story so much. Since the very first page I was mesmerized and enchanted by the writing.

A few moment later my mom came in with McDonald’s porridge and a bag full of snacks. She smiled and dropped the bags to her side and ran towards me. She was so glad that I had woken up. “Thank God you’re awake. Are you alright honey? You hungry?” She picked up the porridge and handed it to me. I took a couple of spoonfuls before before feeling nauseated. Suddenly Harrison came into my mind. I asked my mother where he was and my mother gave me a sad look.

***

Harrison noticed the first sign of cancer when he just turned 17. That was the year I gave him FIFA 2014 as a birthday present. Upon checking with the doctor, he was diagnosed with a rare cancer where the cancer cells spreads through his entire body. He decided to keep this news to himself and he never uttered a single word to his friends. He didn’t want his friends to be sad or people to treat him nicely just because he was plagued with a fatal disease that was killing him. So everything was as per usual. Behind those fake happy faces he was suffering all alone. But eventually the cancer had spread to his whole body and there was nothing the doctor could do to stop the growth. The doctors could only give him medications to reduce the spreading rate. Miraculously, only his heart wasn’t affected by the cancer. Since I was in need of a new healthy heart, Harrison decided that it was best to donate his heart to me. Now the heart that is beating in me used to be his. A little piece of him is in me, wherever I go. Just like his watch, ticking on my wrist, his heart is beating in my chest.

***

For the past few weeks I spent my days locked in my room. I didn’t feel the need to eat or socialize because what good is eating or talking with people when you’re on the brink of death? Death! Something that most people would like to avoid and loath. Since the very beginning of time people have come up with so many ways to cheat death but failed miserably in being mortal. Death is inevitable.

Harrison is on my mind, his hands extended as if expecting an embrace from me. Around him a bright halo of light blinded my eyes. He was smiling but I could see tears streaming down his eyes. I shook my head and stepped back to reality. Dazed, I lay on my bed. Since I could not drift to sleep, I took “The Book Thief” and read it. I was reading half of the page when the doctor’s voice echoed in my head. “It seems that somehow the heart you accepted was infected with cancer.” There was a long pause. Before the surgery, the doctors were adamant that Harrison’s whole body was infected with cancer but not his heart.

They were sure it was completely safe for me to accept the heart. I tried to continue reading but a fit of coughs distracted me. The coughing got worse and eventually page 333 and 334 was splattered with blood. I tried to wipe the blood from the pages but it got worst and now my hands are bloody. I am still coughing and blood is still coming out. My throat was on fire and my head was spinning. It was hard to read with all the blood on the pages. Harrison please open the door, I’m coming.

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