7: Telling Adrian

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Autumn draws a little doodle representing whatever the item is next to each number on the list to make it look cooler. She caps her marker and puts them back in the cup on her desk. She smoothes the paper and stares at it a moment longer. 

This is how I'll tell him, she thinks. 

The next day, she packs her backpack but leaves the list out. Though it's raining, Autumn plans to give it to him as soon as she can; before they get to school. 

She hopes it'll go over well; what if he stops liking her? What if he distances himself from her as if what she has is contagious? What if he laughs at her? What if he thinks it's stupid? What if he starts crying?

She tries to control her thoughts unsuccessfully. She nearly leaves it behind, but she has to give it to him. He has to know. 

She keeps the paper under her jacket to protect it from the drops falling from the sky. Her legs force her to run ahead to get to Adrian before he turns the corner. 

"I made this last night," she tells him, wasting no time with a greeting. She pulls it out and hands it to him. 

"What's this?" he asks rhetorically, then scans the title. "Ooh, a bucket list! Whatcha got on it?"

She knows he doesn't expect a response, as he reads each one individually. He comments on a few of them. "See a lunar eclipse or a solar eclipse?" "Publish a novel? Ha! That one will be easy for you!" 

He is careful not to let the page get too wet, shielding it with his body. 

As he nears the bottom of the list, anxiety builds in her stomach. What will his comment be? She watches his face. 

"'For a change?!' You're beautiful!! ...Aw, that's neat, helping someone else with a goal," 

He stops walking. Autumn does, too. His face falls and his eyes grow wider a bit. A look of concern consumes his face. He reads it again, then looks at Autumn. She isn't looking at him anymore, but instead watching a puddle ripple every time a drop hits it. 

"You don't... do you?" Adrian's voice is soft. 

She can't risk opening her mouth, because she might start crying if she does. She only nods. Slowly, only twice. 

Adrian hands her the paper. She takes it, concealing it in her jacket once again. Adrian puts his arm around her in comfort, but Autumn can't help but hug him. 

Adrian hugs her back, and they stay like that for a few seconds. When Autumn pulls out of it, she doesn't meet his eye and keeps walking. Adrian is close behind. 

"Don't give up. You're so strong. You'll beat it, I know you can!" He tries to sound encouraging, but his tone has a hint of uncertainty to it. 

They don't talk, and listen to the rain as it pelts the cement ahead of them. At the split where the two head opposite ways, he grabs her shoulders and makes her look him in the eye. He speaks again. 

"Cheer up. You've got a long while ahead of you. Don't let this ruin your life." And with that, he turns to the junior wing. 

Autumn ponders what Adrian told her, and eventually takes it to heart. She had a whole year to spend! She wasn't going to let that year be ruined by some stupid cells!

Her optimism returned, Autumn had a much better day. On the walk home, the sun had dried most of the rain and glints off of her auburn hair. Instead of looking at the asphalt, she admires the skyline. 

Adrian appears beside her. "How's it goin'?"

Autumn smiles at him. "Better,"

He grins. "Glad to hear it." He turns to go into his house. "See ya tomorrow, Little Leaf!"

She waves. She opens the door to her home and senses something isn't right. There's a strange, too-quiet air the minute she opens the door. 

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