I screamed, running away from my best friend as he chased me around the playground. It was a friday afternoon and Mase’s mom had let us go to the park by ourselves after a lot of pleading and promises to be careful. I had just narrowly escaped a tickle attack and could barely run fast enough to stay away from him.
Glancing behind me, I saw Mason steadily gaining ground as I weaved through the equipment. I climbed up the ladder that led to the monkey bars and swung across them as quickly as I could before dashing through the water section. I continued running around, now soaked in water, until eventually I ran into something. Upon impact, I fell on my butt, groaning in pain as Mase caught up to me. I looked up, only to find Levi glaring down at me.
“Watch where you’re going, brat.”
“I was! You’re the one that needs to watch it, jerk!” I stood up and glared right back at him, hiding the fact that he had upset me. He hadn’t even offered a hand to help me up.
“It’s not my fault I was blinded by the sight of you.”
“No, It’s your mom’s fault for giving you such bad sight,” I countered.
“Feel free to tell her that in hell.”
“I would, but I think you’ll see her first.”
“I’m not too sure of that,” he growled and tried to knock me back to the ground but before he made contact, Mase got in between us and shoved Levi back. Levi stumbled, not expecting the push, and crashed into Asher, his best friend. They both glared at us and without warning, Levi charged Mason, sending them both hurdling to the ground. They rolled around in the mulch, sending blow after blow at the other.
After minutes of yelling at the sixth grade boys to stop with zero reply, I just stood there next to Asher, watching them. He would mostly keep his eyes trained on our friends, just glaring, almost as if even he was annoyed with their idiocy, but every once in a while, he would glance up at me, making eye contact. We had an understanding just between the two of us. We didn’t want them to fight- and held nothing against each other- but as long as our best friends didn’t get along, neither could we.
We parted, deciding to pry the boys off of each other. Without another word, I dragged Mase away from the scene, silently assessing the damage. From behind me I could hear Levi yelling out insults but I didn’t have the energy to respond. Mason had quite a few injuries and at this rate we would never be allowed out of his house ever again. His nose was bleeding, I could guarantee he would have a black eye tomorrow, he was limping on his right leg, his knuckles were busted, and there were bruises littered over his skin. My curly-haired bestie had gotten hurt trying to defend me when I could defend myself just fine. I was pissed.
We barely made it into his room without getting stopped by his mom and I started the strenuous process of cleaning him up while also making sure he knew I was mad at him. After shoving him into the bathroom and telling him to shower, seeing as he smelt like mulch, I called my mom to come get me. I just wanted to go home.
“Mom, can you come get me?”
“Of course Artemis, but can I know why I’m driving to Mason’s house at 8 o’clock at night to pick up my daughter?”
“I’ll explain when I get in the car, but can you please just wait to ask questions until after you get here?”
“Sure sweetie. I’ll see you soon.”
I hung up with her and proceeded to lounge on Mase’s bed, watching Fuller House and eating his stash of candy while waiting for him to get out of the bathroom.
When he did, he sat down with me and we proceeded to get lost in the humor and junk food, completely forgetting about the time and my mother.
Hours passed, and it wasn’t until I looked back at my phone that I realized my mom wasn’t here and hadn’t texted me. I stood up, glancing at the time to see it was well past ten and it only takes 20 minutes to get from there to here. Mase seemed to realize the same thing and we bolted out the room to find his mom while simultaneously trying to dial my dad’s number and failing.
As Mase talked to his mom, my phone started ringing and I sighed in relief when it was my mom’s name that popped up on the screen. I quickly swiped up to answer the call and see where my mom could possibly be.
“Is this Felicity’s daughter?” My worry swelled.
“Yes! Where is my mom?” I practically yelled at the poor woman on the other side.
“She’s been in a terrible car accident and her husband hasn’t been answering my calls. The ambulance just left but uh….. She’s lost a lot of blood. I’d suggest getting to Kindred Hospital as soon as possible.”
“Oh my god! Umm okay, okay. Thank you. We’ll be there soon.” I rambled before hanging up.
“We have to get to the hospital, now.”
“MOM! Mom! Where is my mom?” I pleaded with the nurse as I ran into the hospital.
“What’s her name, sweetheart?”
“The doctors are trying to stabilize her right now. It will be a little while before you can see her. I suggest waiting with your family over there,” she advised, pointing towards my father.
“Thank you, Nurse.”
I walked over to my dad, Mason and his mom trailing behind me, and collapsed into him. I sobbed in my father’s arms, praying to a god I don’t believe in to save my mother. I am too young to lose her. My mother is everything to me. My life had always been just my brother and my parents, the perfect little family. On the days my dad took Emerson to football games, my mom would drag me to the mall and the spa before taking us to the movies. She is the most considerate and honest person I have even known and doesn’t deserve to die. A girl should never have to lose her mother.
After what felt like hours of waiting for answers, a doctor came out to us. I didn’t have to hear a word he said to know that the news was bad. He quickly explained that my mother had mere hours left, if that. And of course his explanation ended with the classic we did all we could.
As soon as we were let into her room, I rushed to her side. I grabbed her hand, holding it in an iron grip, and just broke. I barely noticed my mom waking up, almost as if her daughter in distress had interrupted her sleep, but I immediately pulled myself up to her, laying on the small bed with her. She motioned to the bedside table and I handed her the glass of water. My dad stepped out of the room to give us a moment.
“N-no…. Mom please d-don’t leave, don’t leave me, us,”I begged, sobbing into her shoulder.
“Oh sweetie,” she began weakly, “I’ll never leave you.”
“Yes, yes you a-are. They said you’ll b-be gone soon.”
“But I’ll always be with you, I’m always going to be your mother.”
“B-but It’s all my, it’s all my fault!” I cried.
“Baby, my sweet sweet girl, It’s not. I came to get you. I was driving.”
“I called you, you never, you never would h-have left the house if I hadn’t. If I had just been stronger.”
“I would rather be here, lying on my deathbed knowing I had taken care of my daughter, knowing that I had made her happy, than having you upset and uncomfortable.” All I could do was cry harder as she sat me up to look at me. “My beautiful daughter, you are a gift to this world and to anyone who has the pleasure of knowing you. You did not cause this.”
“B-but mom, You’re dying. I can’t lose you!”
“You’ll be okay, eventually. You have your brother and Mason is such a good friend. But I do need you to do one thing for me.” I could see her energy draining from her face. She was deathly pale and her eyes almost empty. I had never seen her like this. She was always radiating warmth like the sun and spreading joy to everyone around her. My mother was truly going to leave me, bit by bit until the line falls flat.
“You have to take care of Emerson and your father for me. They need you now and without you here to hold the family together, everything will fall apart my darling girl. You have to be strong now.”
“I will. I’ll be strong and take care of everyone.”
“Good girl. Now lay with me.” I lie still next to my dying mother, knowing it would only be a matter of moments now.
“I love you, I love you so, so, so much mom,” I mumbled.
“To the moon and back my little moon goddess.” And with those last words, her line fell flat.