Clara's P.O.V

"Mommy?" I call through our small apartment. I find her passed out on the sofa, and let out a slight sob. Sure, she's been sick for a long time, but that doesn't make it any easier to see her like this. She is pale and her breathing is labored. I don't want to accept that she is nearing the end of her timeline. I have to wake her up so that she can have the painkillers that Jace provided me with today. Mommy never asks where or how I get them, and I'm glad. I don't want to have to tell her about what I do with Jace so that he supplies me with the drugs that keep my mom out of pain in her last months, and now days, of life.

"Mommy, I need you to wake up," I whisper, tears falling down my cheeks. She startles awake and smiles when she sees me.

"Hi, Clara, baby," she croaks weakly. I wipe away my tears so that she doesn't see that I've been crying.

"Hi, mommy. How are you feeling? I have your painkillers," I whisper to the only person I love.

"I'm okay, darling. You don't have to get those painkillers for me. I'm not in that much pain."

"You're not in that much pain with the painkillers. You would be in much more pain if I didn't get these for you all the time." I hand her the bottle of water and the pills. We talk a little bit, but twenty minutes later, she falls asleep again. I sigh and lie back on the floor where I have my pillow and blanket laid out. Our apartment only has three rooms-the kitchen, the bathroom, and the living room/bedroom. We don't have a bed, so we just use the couch that the people before us left, and mom is the only one who sleeps on it. I just sleep on the floor, but that's fine by me. I pull out the iPod that Jace gave me and plug in the ear buds, starting up One Direction's new album, "Midnight Memories". The band has gotten me through all of this. When I'm alone and mom is sleeping, like she always is nowadays, I listen to their music and it makes me happier. It makes me feel like I'm not alone. I don't mention to my mom that Tyler invited me to go to a signing for the band, because I can't leave her. I'll just tell my best friend that I can't come. She'll be disappointed, but my mom is more important. I close my eyes and fall asleep to "Story of My Life".

I wake up late the next day and mommy is still sleeping. Jace is kind to me, and he thinks that I really do like him, so he gives me drugs and money and food for my mom and me. I walk into our ugly kitchen and pull together a bowl of oatmeal for my mom and a bowl of cereal for me. I even slice up a banana to put in mom's oatmeal, just like she likes it. Mom wakes up a few minutes after I finish making her breakfast and I bring it to her, feeding her small mouthfuls. She stops eating for a second and reaches down off of the couch, picking up a piece of paper. Shit, it's my invitation to the signing.

"What's this?" mom asks me.

"It's nothing, mommy," I assure her. "Keep eating."

"Clara, you need to go to this," mom orders.

"I can't, mommy. I need to take care of you. It's not safe," I argue.

"Honey, this isn't healthy. You need to get out and be with your friends. I can take care of myself for a short period of time. Please. Go have fun. I'll be here when you get back."

"But...what if you're not?" I whisper, saying the one thing that I don't want to admit to myself.

"Then I really won't be going anywhere," mom chuckles at her depressing joke. I frown and she stops laughing. "Sorry, baby. But please. Please go. Nothing would make me happier than seeing you smile again. And before you do that fake smile that you always do when you're around me, let me clarify that for you-I mean really smile. Not a fake one to make me feel better."

"Are you sure, mommy?" I ask, still hesitant.

"I'm positive. When is it?" mommy asks.

"In an hour," I say. "But I have stuff to do before I can go, is that okay?"

BittersweetRead this story for FREE!