• Prologue: Betrayal

    I had no idea what I was doing.
    Why was I running away from these people? The people that had helped me. The people that had cared about me. The people I was betraying.
    It was just after midnight and I could barely see in what little moonlight there was, so there was no way to avoid the trees. Or the branches that hit my face as I ran.
    Not to mention the gravel beneath my bare feet that threatened to cut them with every step.
    I scraped my arms and banged my head a lot. The physical pain was devastating, but the emotional pain was worse.
    Why am I doing this? I asked myself again.
    The answer flashed in my mind before I finished asking the question. Because it's too risky to get involved.
    I was bad at comforting myself, or anyone really, so that thought left me little peace of mind, and it didn't change the fact I was a terrible person.
    No, it proved that fact because it showed I would rather run away than help these people, even after I promised I would.
    I couldn't stop myself, I had to pause for a second to look at the mansion one last time.
    I almost smiled when I remembered how on my first night here, I got lost on the way back from the bathroom and had to spend the night on an old gray couch rather than the beautiful canopy bed I had been provided with.
    Almost, but I didn't because just when I was about to, I remembered all of the kind, caring people I was leaving behind, soon to be just another fading memory.
    So instead of smiling, I cried.
    I turned back and continued to run toward the tall, iron gate I intended to climb.
    I shuddered at the thought of falling from the gate's twelve foot height, but it was the only way out so I'd have to take the risk.
    I was practically blind because of the tears that blurred my vision, but I didn't stop running. Not until I hit something.
    I isntantly thought it was a tree. I'd been running into those a lot.
    I was wrong, when I looked up, it was Henry, and I could tell he knew I wasn't out for a moonlight stroll.
    I just stared at him for a second. Than I collapsed into his arms. Still crying, still ashamed, still guilty.
    "I'm so sorry," I whispered.
    "Do you want to go back now?" he asked me, his voice very soft.
    Even though I had betrayed him, his face didn't. I couldn't see the slightest flicker of emotion cross it.
    His eyes were a different story. I could see absolutely everything he was feeling right now, and I was surprised at what I found.
    There was sadness and anger. That was to be excpected.
    What wasn't was the guilt or pity. Why would he feel guilty or pity me? Why would anyone feel guilty or pity me?
    The answer to that is: he's not anyone, he's Henry.
    Henry is the most selfless person in the world.
    If you steal something from him, he'll say it was his fault he didn't put it in a safer place. If you insult him, he'll say he feels sorry for you for having to take your anger out on him. And if you betray him, he'll feel guilty because he'll think it's his fault you turned out to be a horrible person, and he'll pity you because he'll just assume you've had a tough life and are acting out because of it.
    He was obviously wrong on both accounts.
    First of all, there is no way my being a bad person is his fault. I make my own bad choices.
    And second of all, other than finding out I was going to die, my life has been great.
    I stopped my train of thought when I realized it had started raining and we had reached the front door of the mansion.
    Henry held it open for me, and I quickly stepped inside. Eager to escape the cold night and all of the reminders of what I'd just tried to do.
    He closed the door and we started up the stairs, the only sound was our footsteps, breathing, and it was even quiet enough to hear out blinking.
    We turned right and went to the first door on the left. My room.
    The silence shattered as Henry said a quiet, "Goodnight," and shut the door behind him.
    I was alone in the dark. I hate to admit it, but normally this would have scared me.
    I thought about opening the curtains that hung over the one large windo I had in my room, but than decided not to bother. It was too dark for any moonlight to shine in and I didn't care about being in it anyways. Not tonight.
    I could tell I was going to have another sleepless night, but I didn't care.
    I sighed and felt my way toward my bed. I might as well lie down.
    I wondered if they were going to send me home, or if they were still going to try to help me. Would they give me another chance?
    A part of my mind told me to calm down, so I just stared at empty space as I awaited what would come in the morning.

    Chapter One: Migrains

    I groaned and clutched my forehead as I sat down at the kitchen table for breakfast.
    Another headache. Were they ever going to stop? I'd been getting them for a little more than a month now.
    It felt like someone was taking a hammer and banging it against my forehead, it felt...painful. No duh, it feels painful, I told myself. It felt so painful, it was hard to think.
    What was for breakfast? I looked down at my plate, eggs, bacon, and a homemade smoothie for a drink. Somehow, that made the headache worse.
    I vaugely remembered hearing from something that bright colors made a headache worse. That was it, all the bright colors. Where had I heard that from? The internet? A friend? School?
    I groaned again, I didn't want to think right now, it hurt too much.
    I noticed my mother leaning against the kitchen counter, frowning at my pain. She had her coffee mug in one hand, keys in the other. She was debating on whether to drive me to the doctor's or go to work.
    I guess she made up her mind, because she said, "Today's the day you're finally going to the doctor's. You promised."
    "Mom, I'm fine, it's just a little headache," I tried to give her a reassuring smile, but the pain contorted my expression, and I grimaced instead.
    "You promised," she repeated. "This is more than just a headache, maybe even more than a migrain, if anything were to happen to you-" her voice trailed off, and I could tell she was thinking about my father.
    I never knew my dad, he died while my mother was still pregnant with me. He had been driving home from work when a drunk driver crashed into him.
    The car was totaled, and it put him in the emergency room for five hours before he finally died, and to make matters worse it happened on my parent's anniversary.
    However, since it had happened on my parent's anniversary, my father had two heart shaped lockets with him, one for my mother, and another for her unborn daughter, me.
    My mother put that locket on me as soon as I was born, and I still haven't taken it off for thirteen years.
    I couldn't help but touch the locket now, as I remembered the story I had heard hundreds of times.
    I noticed my mother was touching her locket too. I also noticed she was on the verge of tears.
    Was it right to do this to her? Of course not. Why not just give in? It would show her there was nothing to worry about, and what if there really was something wrong with me? This trip could save my life.
    "Okay mom, you win, but I'm just doing it to prove there's nothing wrong with me," I surrendered.
    Relief flooded my mother's faces as she got out her cell phone to schedule an appointment for me.
    One hour, three tests, and four scans later, I was sitting back in the doctor's office.
    I usually felt very comfortable at the doctor's since our doctor is a close family friend, and because of this fact he never makes me call Dr. Goodmen, or Mr. Goodmen, I simply call him John. Except for sometimes I call him Dr. Pepper, since whenever I see him, he's a drinking a can of it.
    Add that to his friendly blue eyes, soft blonde hair, and the smile that's always on his face, going to the doctor's is one of the least stressful things that I've ever had to do.
    This time was different. John wasn't smiling, in fact, he was frowning as he looked at my test results.
    "Is everything all right?" I asked.
    John looked up, and pasted an obviously fake smile on his face. "Of course, I'd just like to talk to your mother out in the hall alone for a second. Do you mind waiting here for a little, Kaytlyn?" he asked me.
    "No, I'm fine." I lied. This was definately suspicious, and if he thought I was staying here, he was dead wrong. I was following them. Discreetly, of course.
    "Alright," he said. "Ms. Harrow, would you follow me into the hall?"
    My mother nodded and followed him out the door.
    I waited for a minute or so, and than pressed my ear to the door, to see if I could hear their conversation from inside the room.
    I had to strain, and it was faint but I could, and what I heard sent shivers down my spine.
    "How long does she have to live?" was my mother's tearful question.
    "About a month, I'd say."
    "Should we tell her?"
    "It's probably best not to, especially since she's a minor, we don't want her panicking, this can really effect a young child's brain. Just let her enjoy the time she has, there are some things we can do to try to reduce the pain of the headaches, but not much else. The disease has progressed for too long."
    "But what is it? What's causing this?"
    "A brain tumor."
    I stood frozen at the door, my brain refusing to register what had happened. I was in shock, and couldn't hear anything else, and I wasn't sure that I wanted to.
    I was overwhelmed by fear. A fear that I had never known before, and had never thought I'd have to know.
    It was the fear of reality, and the reality was I had a brain tumor that I wasn't supposed to know about and I was going to die.

    Chapter Two: Good News

    My mother and John were all smiles when they came back into the room. I tried to smile back the best I could. After all, I wasn't supposed to know anything.
    I could tell that their smiles were fake, I could tell that they could tell that my smile was also fake, so why were we all sitting here and pretending?
    "Well, Kaytlyn," said my mother. "Why don't we go home?"
    "I heard," I replied.
    For a second my mother looked confused, but than shock took it's place, and than fear, and lastly, the most devastating, heart shattering sadness I had ever seen.
    She looked toward John, as if for guidance, but he just sighed.
    "I'm sorry Kaytlyn, we can try to reduce the pain of the headaches, but other than that, my hands are pretty much tied."
    I could've sworn I saw his eyes water up when he said that, but he blinked and any moisture that had been there vanished.
    I said goodbye, and off my mother and I went.

    I wasn't ready to die yet.

    I was only thirteen, it didn't seem right that I should die at such an early age.

    My mother kept on telling me that, in a way, I was lucky. There were plenty of people like me who didn't get a month of precious time on Earth.

    But all I could think about was all the people that had had more time. All the people that had had a chance of survival. All the people that had survived.

    My mother told me this as we drove home. I just stared out the sindow, fighting back the tears that threatened to overflow my eyes and make my mom even more worried.

    I lost, and I started bawling my eyes out in the backseat.

    It felt good to let it all out, finish what I had been holding back. I felt completely helpless, yet powerfull all at the same time. It was like screaming to the world, "Yeah, I have a tumor. What are you gonna do about it?"

    But the world couldn't do anything about it. And that's what kept me crying.

    When we got home, the sun was shining, the sky was a perfect blue, and the birds were chirping.

    I hated it.

    Whoever's in charge of the weather must really hate me, because whenever I'm happy, the day's dark and depressing, and whenever I'm not, I'm given a perfect day that I'm too angry or sad to appreciate.

    I knew I should be thankful for what time I did have, be thankful I was still breathing, but I wasn't.

    As much as I hate to admit, I've always been like that. My mom always tells me I need to count my blessings more, and she's right, I do, but it's always been hard for me. I guess I'm a bit of a brat because of that.

    I opened the car door the second we came to a stop, I didn't even bother to close it as I ran inside the house, not shutting the front door either.

    I ran all the way upstairs and I didn't stop running until I had reached my room and buried my face in my pillow, muffling the screams and sobs that involuntarily came from my mouth.

    I heard the car door close, and than the front door, I heard soft footsteps coming up the stairs, and than I felt my mother place a gentle hand on my shoulder.

    "Kaytlyn, it's all right," my mother muttered, even though of course it wasn't. Whenever someone says it's all right, it means just the opposite.
    "I"m so sorry," I told her.
    "Oh Kaytlyn! Don't apologize, it's not your fault."
    My mother hugged me.
    "I just want you to know how much I love you, and nothing is ever going to change that. I could never be more proud of anything than you, and no matter what you are because you'll always be my little Kaytlyn."

    It was a scene straight out of a Chicken Soup for the Soul book.
    I didn't know what to say. My mother had told me she loved me tons of times before, of course, but it had never been like this. Never choking back sobs. Never with clear pain in her eyes because she knew I wasn't going to be around much longer. Never with a broken heart.
    So I did the same thing the people do in movies. I started sobbing and I hugged her and told her that I loved her too.

    That's what started the three hour long heart-to-heart that followed.

    During that time there was a lot more crying and hugging and when it was over, my mother kissed my forehead and left my room.

    That night, I felt a lot better. Yes, I was going to die, but at least I still had the time that I did, and at least, now, I could appreciate it.
    I fell asleep with a smile on my face.
    The next morning my mother woke me up early.

    This was strange. She never wakes me up unless I'm late for school and seeing as it was Sunday, I didn't see how this could be possible.

    I glanced at my alarm clock. The neon blue numbers infromed me that it was 4:30 a.m.

    I could remember only one other time my mother had woken me up, and that was when my grandfather had had a heart attack and passed away.

    "Mom, what's wrong?" I asked, suddenly wide awake, worried and suspicous.
    "Oh Kaytlyn! Nothing's wrong at all!" my mother said laughing. "Something blissful, amazing, wonderful, phenomenal has happened! I'm not sure how to describe it but-"
    She gave me a huge hug.
    "John just called, and he said he knows some people in Oklahoma who can treat you! Oh, Kaytlyn, you're going to live!"
    I started laughing too, and than we both started hugging each other and running and dancing around the house. If somebody had walked through the door right than, they probably would have thought that we were both a little crazy.
    We weren't thinking about people bursting into houses, though, we were thinking about life, and while we were dancing around, somehow we landed in the backyard.
    We stopped laughing, mainly because it had started to get hazardous to our health, seeing as we couldn't breathe. But partially so we could just lie down in the grass and do something we hadn't done since I was about two.
    Cloud watching.
    It was the usual, dumb cloud naming.
    "That one looks like a bunny!"
    "Nah, it looks like mashed potatoes."
    "Do you know what I think it looks like?"
    "A cloud."
    Strangely enough, it was there, lying in the grass that I realized it. I realized my life was changing, and for the first time in what felt like forever, it was changing for the better.

    Chapter Three: Where the Grass, Where the Wheat

    Since I've been born and raised in Utah my entire life, I didn't know a whole lot about Oklahoma except what I learned from the song.

    Oklahoma, apparently, was where the wind comes sweeping down the plain. Where the grass, where the wheat, something, something.

    Needless to say, I was a little nervous about going to a foreign state all by myself, but one of the doctor people in Oklahoma were supposed to meet me when I got off the plane, and a flight attendant was supposed to help me find my seat and everything so I figured the worst thing that could happen is the plane would collide with the ground and explode in a fiery crash. And if this was the only thing to save my life and make my mother happy again, I was all for it. (And the fact that I was missing school on a Monday helped a little bit too.)

    I hugged my mom goodbye at the airport and got on the plane, clutching my luggage and ticket tight, and praying that I wouldn't drop either.

    The second I stepped on the plane, a flight attendant appeared right next to me. Her nametag informed me she was called Judy, and she flashed me a dazzling white smile.

    Judy had springy blonde curls, turquoise eyes, and that look of being overly kind that you see in supermarket employees, daycare teachers, and, of course, flight attendants.

    "My name is Judy and you must be Kaytlyn," she said in a voice that reminded me of chirping birds.

    I nodded and she led me to my seat, still smiling at me. I smiled back at her the best I could.

    Judy was very chatty and polite, not to mention persuasive. She convinced to buy not only one, but three packets of pretzels, which I don't even like. I didn't even realize I had spent all of the ten dollars I had with me until I got off the plane.

    When I got off the plane, other than being mad at myself for my wasting my money on pretzels, I was also worried that I wouldn't find the doctors from Oklahoma.

    My worry was short lived because after surveying the ariport for a little bit, I saw someone carrying a sign that said, 'Kaytlyn'.

    I hurried over and saw that the person carrying the sign couldn't be any older than me. It was a boy with light brown hair, hazel eyes and a smile almost as bright as the flight attendant's.

    I stood kind of akwardly in front of him for a second until he finally spoke, "Are you Kaytlyn?"

    "Yes," I replied. "Um, are you the doctor?" I asked, feeling confused and a little dumb.

    "No," he said. "But I am the doctor's son, speaking of which we should probably hurry or else the doctor will get impatient."

    As if on cue, a car horn loudly honked and the next thing I knew I was buckled tightly inside a sleek, silver Lamborgini.

    The car ride was...strange. Every now and again we would pass by a hospital, but every time we would just drive right past it. No one even looked twice at the hospitals, and I'm pretty sure I was the only person in the car that seemed to notice or care that we were driving farther and farther away from the city.

    I tried several times to make polite conversation. Just a little bit of small talk here and there, but every time I was rejected and completely ignored, so I had nothing to do but look out the window as we drove to what I assumed would be a dark, depressing hospital straight out of a horror movie.

    We drove on like this for four and a half straight hours.

    When we finally stopped, we were in front of a large gate with a shiny padlock on the front. The doctor stepped out of the car and picked up a rock in front of the gate. It was one of those trick rocks that you could put keys in, and that's exactly what was in it.

    Almost the moment the key touched the lock the gate swung open and I was now exposed to whatever lay inside.

    In the five minutes it took us to drive up to the house, I found out that 'the doctor's son's' name was Henry, that he had never lost a game of Chinese Checkers, that he hated Sprite and other useless tid bits I forgot the moment he told them to me.

    I was only half listening to Henry, I was mainly looking out the window. I noticed that it was a gravel driveway, if you could call it a driveway. It was like the gravel drive way at your Aunt Lily's house multiplied by a thousand. On either side of the gravel driveway, there were exotic trees and flowers, and right when I thought this couldn't be anymore magnificent we arrived at the front of the house. Although house was the wrong word for it, it was a mansion. And I was just staring at the outside of it.

    It was exactly like your Aunt Lily's red brick house multiplied by a thousand. It was a red brick mansion. Every window had a flower bed hanging below it, and the bricks were bright and happy. The door was a cheerful creamy color, that was just begging to be knocked and there were several stain glassed windows.

    And than there was the rest of it.

    Completely surrounding the house was the most beautiful arrangement of shrubbery I have ever seen. And in the center of it all was a fantasticly crafted bird bath. It seemed more like a shrine, than a bird bath it was so magnificent. The sun hit the water at just the right angle, so the water looked like liquid diamond. Completely surrounding the bird bath were rose bushes. The roses were red, white, yellow, and pink.

    To make the scene complete, the smell of freshly fallen rain was in the air, and dozens of butterflies and humming birds were flying around.

    I wasn't sure what type of dark depressing hospital this was supposed to be, but I liked it.

    We stepped out of the car, and as we were walking up the steps to the front door I was a bit reluctant to leave the front yard. (Or more like the front forest.) But when we took our first steps inside, I decided I could live either way because my breath was taken away in astonishment.

    The first thing I saw was the staircase. It was made of pure silver and gold, and it twinkled brightly. The banister was made of crystal, and etched deep inside it were delicate swirls that ran through the entire length of it.

    To the right and left of the stair case were glass doors, and from what I could see through them, they led to an enormous dining room.

    On the ceiling, there was one of those old fashioned chandeliers, and all the candles were lit.

    The walls covered with cream colored wallpaper, and on there were two enormous framed pictures on each wall to the right and left of me.

    The first picture on the left was of Henry, and the golden nameplate, just below the painting declared so. Next to it was Henry's father The nameplate below his picture said Jacque. On the right wall was a portrait of a young girl that I assumed was Henry's sister who looked to be about sixteen. She had long blonde hair that came down to her shoulders in gentle waves. But her eyes were unusual, they were so dark, it was impossible to tell where the pupil began and ended. Her name plate said Victoria. Next to hers was the last portrait, of someone who was probably Henry's mother. She had light blonde hair, just like her daughter, but her eyes were a brilliant shade of blue, instead of black and unlike everyone else in their pictures, she was smiling. Her name was Minerva.

    Everything about this place screamed elegance, and I hadn't even seen the rest of the house. The one thing that seemed out of place was an out of place gray couch in the center of the room, that looked like it had gotten mauled by a bear instead of purchased by a wealthy family.

    But something was bothering me, why would they bring me to their house? Wasn't I supposed to go to a hospital? Maybe this was a hospital. A very fancy hospital. I decided to ask.

    "I don't mean to be rude, but what kind of hospital is this?"

    "This isn't a hospital, this is my home," replied Jacque.

    I had guessed that from the very start, but now it was beginning to frighten me, and I guess it must've shown because Jacque sighed and gestured toward the old gray couch. "Sit down and I'll explain everything."