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Simon stood on the front porch, pacing, shouting as if he were still fighting with Abigail. “How could you be so fucking selfish?!” he screamed. “A cancer-free party when no one knew you had cancer?!”

“Si,” I said, placing my hand on his shoulder. He hastily turned to face me.

“Can you believe that?! Who would do that to someone?!” His nostrils flared as he went back to his quick pacing.

“She’s okay, though. The cancer’s gone.”

“But what if she wasn’t?!” he cried, slamming his body down to sit on the top step of the porch. The palms of his hands brushed against his brow before he stared forward. “What if she wasn’t okay? You don’t understand. One day my sister was there, and then she wasn’t. Would it have been like that with Abigail? Would we have just walked into school, expecting to hear her quote some random old guy at our table but then she would’ve never shown up? And then would the principal get on the loud speaker and tell us that one of our classmates met an untimely death due to her battle with cancer? Gah! That girl pisses me off so damn much!”

I sat down beside him, staring forward also. We sat there until his breathing slowed, and his anger subsided. He took off his glasses and cleaned them with his T-shirt, then said, “It’s weird the way you can walk by people every single day of your life and never truly know their story.”

“I wasn’t supposed to stop,” Abigail said, standing in her doorway. “Nobody really messes with you when you’re the weird girl who dresses funny. I was supposed to keep moving nonstop, finding my way through day after day, never taking a break, never stopping to notice things. Because when you notice things, you start realizing how much you’re missing out on and when you realize how much you’re missing out on, you’ll get sad that you’re dying because you are going to miss so much. And once you’re sad, you get depressed, and you have to do everything you can to stay positive during cancer because your parents already cry enough and you already feel bad daily, so you remind yourself to keep moving, keep busy, keep fighting, but you can’t allow anyone else into your tiny bubble because you don’t need anyone else to feel bad for you.

“But then I made a mistake on my way to the bathroom, and I saw Aria taking things off of her locker, and she looked so sad. So I stopped. Even though I shouldn’t have.” Her eyes fell to Simon and she softly spoke, “And then I saw you, too.”

Simon hadn’t looked at Abigail once since she started speaking. He was staring at his tennis shoes, tapping his feet repeatedly.

“Simon,” I whispered.

He nodded. “I know.”

He stood up, loosened his shoulders, and walked toward Abigail. She parted her lips to speak again, but was stopped when Simon pressed his lips against hers. At first, Abigail was thrown off by Simon’s sudden embrace, but it only took a few seconds before she started kissing him back.

Way to go, Simon.


There was a freedom that washed over Abigail after she realized she’d cheated death. Life shone through her. She laughed differently. She smiled differently. She was different.

That night we all danced around the living room, tossing balloons, eating too much cake, and laughing too hard. We were all small parts of Abigail’s soundtrack that night, adding to the vibrant feel of joy, happiness, and the idea of tomorrow.

As I watched Aria spin with Abigail, giggling like fools, my chest tightened when I locked eyes with Aria. Her smile faded.

Her lips parted as her eyes filled with guilt.

It wasn’t fair of me to somewhat feel pity for myself and Dad’s situation while Abigail was so happy. I shouldn’t have been so selfish.

But truthfully, I felt awful.

So I hurried away to the bathroom for a breather.

* * *

“I’m fine,” I said, turning to see Aria in the doorway of the bathroom. She stepped inside and closed the door behind her.

“I’m so sorry,” she said.

“I’m happy for her,” I said, nodding once. “I really am, it’s just…a part of me wishes it was my Dad’s party.” I clasped my hands behind my neck. “We shouldn’t be talking.”

“Just one minute, Levi.”

We stood still for sixty seconds.

I counted each and every second.

Time traveled way faster than I wanted it to.

One minute was up and we had to go back to the place where we didn’t talk, where we pretended that we didn’t feel the things we knew we felt. She turned away and left the room, giving me the few moments that I needed to feel a little disappointed.

The world didn’t make sense and it was far from fair. It tipped in favor of some, while others struggled daily to keep their heads above water. I’d watched a family fall apart over a new life being brought into the world, while another couldn’t have children. I’d seen one family celebrate their victory against cancer while I watched illness sweep away the chance of a future with my dad. The world was often ugly and painful, filled with hate, sadness, and despair. But Aria? She made sense in a senseless world.

She was the rainbow to my everlasting thunderstorms.

Chapter 28


“I was supposed to find out the sex of the baby, since I’m at eighteen weeks. It’s the size of a sweet potato today, which if you think about it, is kind of big. But, I’m going to wait to find out the sex because I want you to be there. I want you to have the baby,” I said, my voice shaking as I stood in front of Simon’s mom, Keira, in their living room. Her eyes were wide, and she shook with a stack of papers in her grip. My hands were clammy. I wasn’t certain of what I was doing, but I was leading with my heart instead of my head. It didn’t seem fair that I was pregnant and she couldn’t have a child. It wasn’t fair that my best friend felt that he wasn’t good enough to be their only kid because of the one mistake he made as a child. It wasn’t fair that Simon’s troubling addiction to doing things in groups of four probably came from a missing puzzle piece to their family.