Chapter 30

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"Hey. What are you doing here?" I try to act normal and Xavier raises his eyebrows.

"I don't see the canteen here." He points out and I look away. I don't want him to see me cry.

"Yeah I guess I forgot the way." I say and walk to the staircase door. Xavier grabs my arm and pulls me back.

I look into his eyes to find the same scrutinizing gaze. He cups my face and his eyes soften.

"Are you okay?" He asks and I comprehend as to what I should answer.

"Yeah absolutely fine." I lie and he seems to catch on.

"You sure?" He questions once again and I nod.

"Yeah. But why did you say all that in there?" I try to change the topic.

" I just said the truth Samantha," He called me Samantha. That means its serious business now. "You are everything your mother is. Being strong tops the list." He says and I feel tears again at the thought of mom leaving tomorrow. 

"Um okay. I'll just go now." I say and try to move again but he moves too and I collide with his chest.

"Its okay to let go sometimes Samantha. You don't always have to be so tough in front of the world. Your mom and dad are going to Texas tomorrow for God knows how long, so its okay if you cry. Its okay if you feel terrible and break down." His words hit me hard and I drop the facade. I let go just like he wants and burst into tears. It feels odd, crying in front of someone apart from family and yet when I think of Xavier, it feels right.

I feel Xavier wrap his arms around me and I do the same. His hug makes me feel less lonely than I will be from tomorrow and I relish the feeling. I smear his jacket with tears but he doesn't seem to care. He holds me till my eyes feel dry and I raise up my head. I look into his eyes and try to convey what I feel. He nods like he understands everything and leans into my face. His slightly taller figure looms over me and I close my eyes in the unknown anticipation. I feel his lips on my forehead and he kisses me there. He pulls back and with one last look, takes my hand and walks me out the door.

He hangs around until late evening but then I tell him to leave. He looked so tired when I met him after school and neither of us expected that things would turn out like this.

"Xavier, I think you should go. Its too late and I can see you are tired." I say in a hushed voice as mom is sleeping.

"No its fine Sam. I'll stay." He says in an equally low voice.

"No you will not. I'll see you when I get back home. I am gonna stay with mumma till late. Here," I take a pause and remove my car keys from my pocket. "take these and drive home. Dad can drop me later on."

"No Sammy, I'll take a cab. Don't you worry." He says and I shake my head.

"No please do as I say. You'll reach faster with the car. Dad often drops me so its fine." I say and place the keys in his hands. He reluctantly takes them and walk to mumma's bed. He looks at her for a while and the at me. I nod and he leaves then.

I sit with mumma when she opens her eyes. I tell her everything that I might want to in the next few days or months. I keep talking and she listens with concentration, occasionally a tear slipping from her eyes. I show her the picture of my gown and then tell her about Zack. I hug her tight and just stay in her embrace, trying to memorize the feeling. Dad arrives at 11.30 as he had to finish all his pending work here in the office. I tell him about my car and he drops me home. He promises me that they will leave with mom only after I return from school.

After I reach home, I feel emotionally and physically tired. Its not new for me to stay alone at the night without dad, but for the first time I feel alone. I thump on the bed, feeling my eyes close. I am hungry but I don't really have the energy to go and fix myself something. I feel a knock on my window and I bolt up. He is on the plank again!

"Xavier. How many times have I told you not to walk on that death bar?" I scold him as I open the windows for him.

"Let me count.. One... Two... Thousand... One lakh... One crore. Yeah at least a million times Sammy," he says teasing me and I glare at him.

"Why can't you just use the door?" I try to reason and he shrugs in nonchalance. 

"Well.. that's too much of efforts Sammy... And lemme guess. You are very hungry but very lazy to eat something. That is why I've got you this," He says withdrawing one hand from his back, holding  a wrapped up stuffed Taco.

"Oh my God." I say in a thankful yet surprised tone.

"Yeah Sammy you're welcome." He says smugly and hands me the delicacy.

"And while you finish this up, I'm gonna see what we did in Math today." He says sitting at my study desk and taking my very familiar-to-him math notebook. I bite into the Taco while he refers and he is done even before I complete that one single Taco. After hanging in my room for a while, he goes back, wishing me good night.

The next day at school, I tell Bella and Carly everything and their words comfort me. I wait for school to get over so I can meet my mother for what would probably be the last time for the next few months. I drive straight to the hospital and I see dad already there, making some final preparations with the doctors. The doctor smiles sympathetically at me and that makes me feel even worse. I sit by her side for the final time and control my tears. I need to make her feel better. Not worst. I know this is already very hard for her, physically and mentally.

"Hey mom. No crying today okay? I want us to have a happy final memory until we meet next. And you need to smile so that I can capture your beautiful smiling image into my head and cherish it until you come back up and about." I say with a smile and she smiles back. I then get the idea to click pictures and I do just that. I take a lot of mumma's pictures and then hug her. I see dad's bags in the corner of the room. He must have done packing while I was at school. 

"Its time to move darling." I hear dad say as I entwine my hands with mom's. I look at him and nod with a sniffle. This is harder than I thought. The nurses come in and delicately move mother on a stretcher. I see her leave the room while dad starts collecting all the bags. He then walks up to me.

"I am sorry I have to do this love but you know why. I love you and I'm so proud of you. I am so thankful for this support and sacrifice. I promise we will be back soon. Okay?" He says cupping my face and I nod with closed eyes as a tear rolls down my cheek. He pulls me to his chest and then kisses my forehead. I see his eyes water and I know this is hurting him a lot too. I smile for his sake and he seems visibly relieved.

I walk till the large door of the hospital from where mom is carried into their medical van. Dad kisses my cheeks again and then gets in next. Two other nurses go after him. I quickly take a look at mom and her eyes flicker down, trying to see me. One of the nurse closes the door and the van starts moving. My eyes follow the vehicle until it moves out of my line of vision. I then walk to my car, slumped. I begin journey to my house, where I'll be now. Alone.

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