twenty-eight | the dream before death

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A wave of nausea flowed through my body, but I ignored it.

"I just don't understand how you could do this to yourself, to her," Lily-Rose said as she twirled her hair into a messy bun, "you need her. You need her support and her love to be happy and to fight your leukemia. And she needs you, she needs you so bad, because when I see Autumn without you, she isn't the Autumn she used to be. It's too late to turn everything back, Xavier, you've already influenced her so much that she has completely changed and only your company could turn her back."

She laid her hand on my shoulder and softly squeezed it. The nausea made me feel a bit dizzy, but I kept standing.

"If these are your last days, you might as well enjoy them and if you're gone after that, Xavier, Autumn could live on in peace without feeling guilty."

Suddenly there was a sharp pain in my head as if there was a knife stabbed through my skull, ripping every tissue apart so it could never be healed. I firmly grabbed the edge of the windowsill and tried to focus on my breathing while everything around me started fading.

I felt so empty. It was as if there was no longer blood streaming through my body, transporting things I needed to keep on living. As if all my blood got sucked out and now belonged to someone else. When I blinked, darkness surrounded me when I couldn't open my eyes anymore. I felt my body collapse and vague shouting around me. Another sharp stab through my skull when my head hit the ice cold ground of the room causing me to end up in an extraordinarily deep sleep.

My consciousness didn't let me down and forced me to wake up without the pain I felt before. I hadn't slept for long, because I still felt tired. The melody of softly pulled strings peacefully awoke me and made me wonder where it came from. I moved my arms and legs before opening my eyes to make sure I was alright. The ground underneath my body felt much softer and warmer. I opened my eyes and saw the most beautiful things surrounding me, everything so bright and colourful. I was in the middle of a field covered in flowers, tree branches protecting me from the lights of sun, but letting some come through which enhanced some spots in the field. Beside me, there was a waterfall with bright blue water. It seemed to shine as if it was magical water.

The soft notes of a guitar didn't stop, but only got louder. I stood up, where after I breathed out in astonishment. I had never seen something more beautiful, so natural, so relaxing. I had always loved nature when I was younger, but at one point I didn't enjoy those things like I used to. I would sit down in the wilderness, breathe in all of the natural goods and close my eyes to make sure I would hear everything in the nature.

The music came from the water, so I walked over to the small river and looked at the liquid. I bent down to touch it, but I couldn't keep my balance and fell.

Suddenly I was in a whole different setting. Large stones with names on them and decorated with flowers caught my attention, only to make me realize that I was in a graveyard. Around one specific stone stood three people, therefore I wanted to know what was going on. The closer I came, the more familiar the woman with her dark curls and bright red coat became. I kept my distance and watched as she laid down a rose onto the grave. She put an arm around the small human being beside her and looked at the mature man on her other side. They gave each other a small kiss, before she turned to the child.

"This could've been your father," she said, "but he shut me out."

They all turned around and I gasped. Autumn was a bit older, probably five years from now and had a child which resembled her a lot. The man who was the father was Drew. They stopped walking in front of me and all looked at me. A tear rolled down Autumn's cheek and I wanted to wipe it away, but I couldn't move.

"Why were you afraid of the way you loved me?" she asked.

The ground underneath my feet disappeared and I fell into a never ending hole with Autumn, Drew and the child looking down on me. A piano started playing my favourite song; Maybe I'm Amazed.

"Maybe you're amazed at the way you love her all the time, maybe you're afraid of the way you love her." I recognized the singing voice immediately – it was my father's. He was the one who taught me how to sing and what signing could do to one. It was poem, but only said out loud in the most beautiful way you could with a beautiful melody in the background which succeeded in enhancing all the words, perhaps even giving them a different definition.

"Maybe you're amazed at the way she pulls you out of time, hung you on the line. Maybe you're amazed at the way you really need her. Xavier, you're a man, Xavier you're a lonely man who's in the middle of something. That you don't really understand. Xavier, you're a man, Autumn is the only woman that could ever help you, won't you help him understand?"

"I'll help him understand." Autumn's voice.

"Go away!" I screamed. "Go away!"

I fell into the dirt of the hole and felt two hands pushing my shoulders so that I couldn't stand up anymore. I let out a cry of defeat and realized how loud I was breathing.

"Finish this," I begged, "finish me."

december 10th

A U T U M N

I was busy studying for the exams that were coming up in the library, until Drew joined my table. I unplugged my headphones and frowned at him.

"Here to disturb me?" I asked.

"Oh, you know me so well," he said with a huge grin decorating his face. I shook my head at him and continued reading.

Fortunately for me, he grabbed his own books and started studying too. I was quite focused, until my phone felt the utter need to distract me. I sighed deeply when I saw Lily-Rose's name appear on my lightened up screen, but decided to pick up anyway. Lily-Rose calling me was very rare, actually.

"Wassup bitch," I nicely and formally greeted her.

"Hi," she said, but I immediately acknowledged that there was something wrong. It was her broken voice as if she was completely devastated, as if she had been through so much all the time I hadn't seen her.

"Are you okay?" I started to worry which was a bad trait of mine. I worried about literally everything, but usually about others first, while I was the one who really needed to be worried about. For example, I was still hungover and that affected my study-behavior.

"Autumn, maybe it's time for you to go to Houston."

I was silent, because I knew exactly what specific building was established in Houston. University of Texas MD Anderson. There was something wrong with Xavier. Drew looked at me with a lot of questions, but I waved it all away. I grabbed my shit and put it in my bag.

"It's Xav, isn't it?" I asked.

"I'm sorry..." Lily-Rose said.

I stopped moving, just like everything around me. Time stopped ticking and I could only hear my own breathing.

"He isn't..." I mumbled, "he can't be."

"I don't know, Autumn, I wish I could tell you."

"Oh my god." I prayed to myself, hung up the phone and ran out of the building.

Once outside, I jumped into the car and was ready to drive off to Houston, until Drew knocked on my window. He got in as well and laid his hand on my leg.

"I'm coming with you," he said, "if it's bad, you at least have a shoulder to cry on."

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