24 Hours

Original photo

“You got the letter too, huh?”
“Yea…”
Silence fell over us like snow in winter. I glanced down at her trembling hand and noticed her lip quiver. I could tell she was thinking, so the quiet wasn’t awkward like it would be on a date. I let us sit, not wanting to interrupt her thoughts. I think they were important then. Several minutes had passed before she spoke again.
“Have you told your parents yet?”
“No…”
My heart suddenly dropped, oh man, my poor mom. I wanted to ask the same question to her instead of talking about my guilt for keeping this secret from my family, but I didn’t. She looked like she’d fall to pieces if I said anything else. She was holding on so tight to that last grip she had. Anger and frustration took over me, bouncing my knee with the anxiety. 24 hours.
In a sickening way, I found comfort in seeing her much more terrified than I felt. Maybe because I wanted to protect her and that gave me strength. Not like I could, no matter what, in the next 24 hours we’d be gone. There was no telling when, or how, just that we would. Indefinitely. I lifted my head, feeling suddenly energized. I guess knowing you may only have minutes makes you a little less tired.
“Do you still have your bike?” I asked her with the first smile of the day between us.
“Are you crazy?” I blinked, shrugging my shoulders. She continued, “What if that’s how I die! There’s no way I’m getting on a bike. Not today.”
“You’re gonna die anyway…” I mumbled without thinking, I could almost see her heart shatter. “Besides!” I shouted, trying to keep the light in her eyes from going out. “Think of today like you’re invincible. Sure, there is no tomorrow but we still have today.” I put ‘no tomorrow’ in air quotes, rolling my eyes playfully. When I focused back on her, with my arms up in a shrug, she was smiling.
“Ok…”
Our first shared smile.

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