"So, can anyone tell me the name of the assassin that killed Franz Ferdinand and indirectly sparked World War I?" asked Mr. Greene, turning his eyes to the class, standing at his podium. My hands shoots up. I know this stuff like the back of my hand. I spent all of last year learning European history. I have this down. Mr. Greene looks at me, and says expectantly, "Jane?" A few of my classmates turn to watch me. I don't answer questions that often, but when I do, I always get it right.
"Gavrilo Princip," I respond sharply, and Mr. Greene nods. I feel a surge of pride within me. It's stupid, but I always feel good when I answer a question correctly. Greene turns back to the board, saying, "Good. Now, after Gavrilo Princip shot Franz Ferdinand, the Austrians became enraged and threatened Serbia with an ultimatum..." His voice drifts off as I turn my eyes down to my notebook, and then to the right. I spot Tom across the room immediately. He's dreamy, really. Short brown hair and sparkling blue eyes, athletic and tall, and most of all, really sweet. I can't even think of a time when I wasn't into him. We've known each other since maybe third grade, when we were desk partners and shared pencils like elementary school kids do. We got married in third grade to, I had a crown made of flowers picked from the field and he wore one tucked into the front pocket of the big green sweatshirt he loved so much. Of course, the marriage wasn't real.
Tom and I didn't really start to be friends again until maybe freshman year, when we accidentally sat next to each other at one of our school's home football games, which I only went to because I was dragged by some of my friends. I don't have a lot of guy friends, really, so that made Tom kind of special. We went to freshman homecoming together, too, but of course, that was a big joke to him. Since then, we've hung out maybe three or four times a week, every week. With other people around, of course. Because girls and guys don't hang out alone together unless one of them is gay, they're actually doing homework, or they're having sex.
The bell rings, cutting Greene off. He smiles at the class, a rather jolly man, and says, "Okay kids, have a good weekend." We all grin at each other, and start packing up as fast as we can, desperate to get out to the parking lot before the traffic gets too rough. I'm halfway down the hallway before I hear a voice calling my name. "Hey Janie!" I hear Tom call. I pause, and turn as he walks over to me, grinning. "You're so slow, Tom, jeez." He laughs a little, and then says, "Sorry! But I wanted to ask you something kind of important." I raise an eyebrow, but let him lead me out of the hallway and into one of the wings of the school, where kids aren't walking by and shoving each other in the mad dash to the parking lot.
"So what's up?" I ask, as we walk into the little clearing beside one of the classrooms. He seems nervous. That's weird. Suddenly, he produces a little flower from nowhere and presses it into my hand, and says, "Listen, Janie. I like you. I really, really like you. I think I've liked you since maybe third or fourth grade when we first met. You're the smartest, sweetest, and prettiest girl I have ever met and you mean so much to me. But I want us to be something more. So Janie, will you be my girlfriend?"
I look up at him in shock, and then break out into a smile. "Of course, you dork," I say, and Tom grins wildly back at me. And then he pulls me in, and I kiss him for the very first time. And it's better than anything I could have ever imagined.
And then it fades to white.
"Jane?" a male voice asks. "Mrs. Wilde, can you hear me?"
I struggle to open my eyes. A bright flash hits my eyes, but soon it adjusts. I'm...in a hospital room, I realize with a start.
Four people with tears in their eyes stand at the edge of the room. Two adults, a man and a woman, and two small children. "Is she going to be okay?" the woman asks the man who first spoke to me, wearing a doctor's coat.
I open my mouth, trying to speak, and finally manage to croak out in a voice that certainly doesn't belong to me, "Where...am I?"
The doctor turns to me. "Mrs. Wilde," he starts. "You suffered a massive heart attack three weeks ago. You were in a deep coma until just now, you were on life support. We were worried you wouldn't wake."
"Life support?" I croak. "I'm only sixteen, I'm too young to have a heart attack."
The doctor shakes his head at me. "No Mrs. Wilde, you're ninety-seven years old." He turns to the strangers in the room. "I'm sorry, comas affect the brain in ways we do not understand. Maybe in time, her memory will return."
The same woman speaks up again, "How long does my Grandma have?" Once again the doctor shakes his head.
"I'm sorry, but she is very weak. She's conscious now, but only just. I give her a week, at most. "
I try to struggle in my bed, but the doctor is right, I'm too weak. I start coughing, my lungs feel like they're going to explode. Black spots appear in my eyes, dancing. I hear shouts, but then, everything is black.
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