I’m dying.

I’m not afraid of it. I’ve accepted the fact, I’ve been dying for a while. They made it official a couple months ago, they gave me a year, maybe. A brain tumor, not that it matters. My father died from one, as did his mother. They tell me it’s not hereditary, I find that hard to believe, but I digress.

They first discovered it when I was 13, after I collapsed during an 8th grade choir concert. It was the size of a grape then, just a tiny little mass, growing in my cerebellum. It was a simple, low grade tumor, and without getting into the details, it was removed easily with surgery, and I was sent on my merry way cancer free within a few months.

About a year ago, the headaches started. They weren’t so bad at first. I’d just started college, so I figured it was stress and ignored it. Gradually they got worse. It was a constant dull pain, but it was distracting. My neck hurt, I felt disoriented and confused. I was suddenly dizzy all the time, and had trouble focusing in class. It was when my fingers went numb one day in a history class, that I knew I couldn’t ignore it any longer. The doctors said surgery wasn’t an option this time. I had let it go.

There were 2 tumors this time, one, wrapped into my spinal chord at the base of my skull. The other had invaded my parietal lobe. They’d have to start me on chemo immediately.

It was the third week of the treatment that I started to see them. They were small at first, like toddlers. Shadows, moving in the corner of my eye. They would flit about, watching me, whispering to each other. They were everywhere I went. The hospital, my apartment, my parents house. I thought it was a symptom, but I still watched them, watching me.

When I told the doctor, they stuck me back in the big machine and peeked at my brain, but nothing had changed. Eventually the things got bolder, running in and out of my direct vision. They were more than shadows now, they were still fuzzy, but I could make out pale, almost slimy looking skin, bald heads, big, black eyes, tiny pink mouths, and curious, almost innocent expressions. I couldn’t hear them, but they seemed to giggle wildly when I caught them. I was never afraid, they were like children, and I even laughed at their antics once or twice. My mother thought I was crazy, but I swore I KNEW they were hallucinations, and she seemed to let it go.

After several months of no changes in my brain, of misery and pain and puking and sleeping and dropping out of school, I was fed up. The children didn’t look as happy anymore. When they came around, they seemed to almost mope, to peek at me with sad faces. I started to talk to them when I was alone. They were my constant companions, my friends. I would vent about my over-bearing mother, the cold doctors, my own pain. They would listen, sitting on my furniture just out of focus, leaning on each other, playing in my room as I slept. When I first started to HEAR them, I was ecstatic.

I wasn’t scared, I even decided not to bother telling my doctors. They whispered to each other, never to me. I didn’t understand them, it was like they were speaking a different languages. Some of their words were in little squeaks and clicks. It was fascinating, to sit and listen to them talk to each other. This went on for months. I eventually taught them to say my name, and they would whisper it to me when I cried myself to sleep, or when I said hello in the morning. They were my little imaginary friends, they never left my side. I loved them, and they loved me too.

It was after the cancer had spread that the big ones appeared. They were tall, lanky creatures, with long, thin limbs and wide mouths. They stood just out of view, behind the little ones, watching, listening. At first I was excited. Never mind that my outlook wasn’t good, I had new friends! I tried to get them to come closer, and the little ones seemed to be doing the same, but they stayed far away, watching, waiting solemnly, for what I don’t know.

I’ve been reluctantly going to my appointments, I hardly listen to what the doctors say anymore, it doesn’t matter. My mother cries every time she sees me, so I stopped answering her calls. I just sit at home, watching my little friends play and my big friends wait. Something has been bothering me though... the big ones are changing. They’re starting to look... different.

They’re becoming clearer, their slimy skin glistening in the light, their mouths, twisting into unnaturally wide smiles, their movements jumpy and quick. They look... excited. I don’t like them as much anymore. The little ones seem to avoid them now, they whisper urgently to me, but I can’t understand them. Their little games look almost cautious, like they don’t want the big ones to notice.

I’m not afraid of dying, but I AM afraid of what those things are waiting for...

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