8:07am. Just under three hours. Her hands tighten on the steering wheel as she takes a shaky breath. Get your shit together, Litzy. She clenches her jaw before reaching for her coffee. Her short brown hair falls into her face as she glances down. She takes a sip of coffee before readjusting her hair. 8:11am. Time crawls by as she flies down the interstate.
10:38am. Time to go. Mom….who the fuck takes this long to pee? The long limbed beauty shifts from one foot to the other, cursing her young age and therefore inability to drive. "Mom, we're going to be late!" She pounds on the bathroom door, willing her mom's bladder to empty faster.
"Calm down. She'll still be there if we're two minutes late, Kaitla. " The dark haired beauty shakes her long tresses out of her face and rolls her eyes as the bathroom door finally opens. Finally, she thinks, all but sprinting to the car.
11:01am. Litzy glances at her watch before returning to her book, nearly falling off the park bench at a sudden loud squeal. She barely has time to mark her place in her book and set it aside before being swept into the arms of her taller best friend. Her face breaks into a wide grin and she begins to laugh as Kaitla's uncontainable excitement becomes contagious.
"Oh my God it's so good to finally meet you." Kaitla draws back to get a better look at Litzy.
"You, too honey. I'm sorry it took so long." Kaitla shakes her head and puts a finger to Litzy's pale lips.
"Nope. No more apologies, Litz. We're here. That's all that matters." Litzy smiles up at her best friend before hugging her again. Kaitla glances at her mom. Seeing that she's involved in her phone, she lowers her voice and lowers her head to meet Litzy's. "What the hell, bae? We agreed to get better together." Concern shines in her eyes, rubbing her hands down Litzy's arms. Litzy drops her eyes before replying in a whisper.
"I know. And I did get better." She begins to shiver in the cool November air.
"Honey, you're too thin." An unasked question hangs in the air. Litzy finally brings her eyes up to meet Kaitla's again, hollow and sad.
"I'm only going to get thinner. But you can't let it affect you. I kept to our promise. I got better. But…."
"But what? Honey, please tell me…"
"No shit, we both were."
"No, not like that. Not anymore at least. Remember how I told you one of the patients needed bone marrow, and I was a rare match?" Kaitla nods, brows drawn in confusion. "Well, some shit came up when they tested my bone marrow."
"Spit it out, Litzy. What's going on? You're scaring me." Litzy squeezes her eyes shut and takes a deep breath. Her green eyes, suddenly filled with pain and fear and compassion, flare open.
"I have cancer. I'm dying." Kaitla gasps as the world around her collapses.
"Are you ready?" Litzy waits patiently by the door as Kaitla finishes fixing her hair.
"Are you sure you're up to this?" Kaitla joins her in the doorway, covering Litzy's hand on the door knob, making sure she answers the question. Litzy rolls her eyes, though concedes a small smile.
"Yes, for the fiftieth time, I'm sure. Now let's go." They grasp hands as they step out into the cold February air, walking the short distance to the bus stop. The bus arrives shortly and they board, choosing a seat near the front. Kaitla slides into the window seat, allowing Litzy to curl up next to her, recovering some much needed sleep on the several hour bus ride from across Ohio. Kaitla puts in her earbuds and cranks the music up, trying to trick her mind into believing her best friend is wearing a hat purely because it's the middle of winter, not because there's nothing underneath it.
The bus ride flies by and before they know it, Kaitla is shaking Litzy awake and they exit the bus, grinning like mad at the beautiful theatre in front of them.
"Come on, let's go." Litzy grabs Kaitla's hand and drags her inside. They make their way to their seats early and settle in to enjoy the show. Kaitla's second time seeing If/Then, Litzy's first. An unforgettable experience for both girls. The show ends and they give a standing ovation, wiping the tears from their eyes. The lights come up and Litzy grabs Kaitla's hand, dragging her against the crowd. They make their way up to the stage, Kaitla protesting in confusion all the way. "Shh! Just go with it!" Litzy glances around them before swiftly swinging her thin frame up onstage and motioning for Kaitla to do the same. Kaitla begins to protest but then follows quickly as Litzy disappears behind the curtain.
"Litzy? Where'd you go? Dammit, Elizabeth." Kaitla searches backstage for her best friend. The smaller girl comes up behind her.
"Boo!" Kaitla gasps and turns around, her gaze murderous. "Oh, come on. You'll forgive me." She takes off confidently down the hallway backstage.
"We are so going to get in trouble." Kaitla reluctantly follows her best friend, wanting to make sure nothing happens while also not wanting to get banned from the theatre.
"Nope." Litzy raps on the door.
"Password?" A smooth male voice answers and Litzy rolls her eyes.
"Do I have to?"
"Absolutely." The male voice replies, mischief in his voice.
"Let her in James!" A female voice argues from behind the door. Kaitla's eyes widen.
"Password first!" James insists.
"Fine," Litzy concedes, leaning in closer to the door. "Fuck." The door swings open. "Thanks James." She says sarcastically as she enters the dressing room.
"Anytime!" The good looking tenor grins back, earning him a punch from the short haired blonde next to him. Kaitla stands in shock in the doorway.
"Oh….my….God." Her jaw drops as she takes in the sight.
"Welcome to my dressing room, Kaitla. Please ignore the mess." The dark haired beauty sitting a maroon chair stands to hug the girls. Kaitla remains in shock.
"Oh my Oz, Kat. Idina, James, Jenn, meet Kat, the wordless wonder." Kat snaps out of it to stick her tongue out at her best friend.
"Oh shut up." Litzy throws her head back in a laugh. Kaitla blushes as a grin spreads across her face.
"So…" James begins. "I hear you like Cards Against Humanity?"
"Yes! Do you play?" Kaitla joins the circle as James deals the cards. Hours pass, Litzy at some point switching from the floor to sitting on Idina's lap. She smiles as she sees her best friend entirely happy and healthy. Exhaustion overtakes her and she falls limp against Idina. Idina opts out of the next round, beginning to grow tired as well. Kaitla remains in her element, holding her own against Jenn, beating the pants off of James. Idina gazes at the frail body in her arms, much lighter than she should be, though her heart hasn't shrunk at all. She readjusts the girl's fleece cap to cover her bare head better. The round ends and James yawns.
"It's getting late. You guys about ready to head out?"
"You're just tired of getting the pants beat off of you." Jenn tries to bite his ear and he leans away, laughing.
"Omo I ship you guys so hard." Kat blurts out, causing the two of them to laugh even harder.
"Do you guys have a place to stay tonight?" Idina asks Kaitla, rubbing Litzy's back softly to wake her.
"Um, to be honest I'm not sure. I didn't know we we're staying after the show."
"Do you want to crash at my place? It's just me at the moment so there's plenty of room." Kat's face lights up.
"Really? You wouldn't mind?" Idina laughs, happy to make the young girl so delighted.
"I wouldn't mid at all. One of us can sleep on the couch or we can all pile onto my bed. It's cold outside. The extra body heat would be nice." Litzy speaks up as Kaitla is once again at a loss for words.
"If you're sure we wouldn't be an inconvenience we'd love to." Idina grins and rolls her eyes at Litzy.
"Not an inconvenience at all. It gets lonely there sometimes. I'd enjoy having you guys." Litzy smiles gratefully. "So it's settled. You guys'll come home with me and I'll drop you off at the bus stop some time tomorrow. Sound good?"
"Sounds amazing." Kaitla confirms, all smiles.
Rain patters against the window pane, machines whir. The monitor on the beside beeps an even sixty two beats per minute. Two bodies are curled on the narrow hospital bed, one normal, one sickly and too thin, attached to an IV, weariness apparent in both. Litzy draws in a shallow, shaky breath.
"Kaitla…." She breathes a whisper to her best friend, lifting a weak hand to cup her face.
"What is it, honey? Do you need me to go get the nurse?" Worry and fear cloud the younger, stronger, healthier girl's eyes as she takes Litzy's hand.
"No…no….I just wanted to say…." she pauses to breathe.
"No no no honey. You're gonna be okay. It's alright." Kaitla draws her best friend nearer to her chest, as if trying to hold on to the life fading inside of her.
"It's okay…it's my time…." Litzy looks at their intertwined hands, thanking heaven for her best friend, her undeserved blessing. Kaitla begins to cry.
"No, baby, please. Don't leave me. I can't do this without you."
"I have to…you'll be okay…you're strong….please….don't forget me…."
"I could never forget you….you're my best friend." The sobs wracking her thin figure shake both of them. Litzy struggles to draw in a few more shallow breaths.
"Even more….don't forget….I love you." Litzy closes her eyes, falling limb against Kaitla. The beeping falls into a flat stream of sound. Kaitla's sobs echo through the room.
"I love you too…..I lost you…..I loved you."