| Shooting Stars |

Shooting Stars: Chapter 1

The monsters are here again. And they’re still not letting go. Why, oh why, did I come to school today?

I’m slumped against the wall, my heart beating wildly. My palms are sweaty, my breath short. It’s not happening. Not to me. These things don’t happen to normal people.

I was way too regular for this upheaval. I was the classic 11th grader, maybe a bit intense, and there was no way in the world this was happening. Ima? Cancer? They just didn’t go together. Ima was too strong for that. She was so not the type. But again, neither was I.

Why did I even come to school today? What was I thinking? I can barely think straight. Morning classes were dismal. I sat through Mishlei and Chumash, my mind whirring with images of chemo monsters. They were attacking me. They were grabbing me with their notorious fangs, not letting go.

I’m choking. I know I’ll miss lunch. I know someone might find me here. The art closet isn’t exactly the most private place, but I’m too numb to care.

This can’t be happening.

I wasn’t up to being the nebach.

Cancer. I roll the word over in my mind. Lymphoma. Ima promised me that’s it’s a mild form. That she’ll be over it in less than a year. But all I could think was... the D word. She sat with me for hours, trying to allay my fears. In vain.

Yesterday... yesterday was the most traumatic day in my life. My cheeks are still damp from the tears. My pillow is drenched in sweat.

This can’t be happening.

The smell of acrylic makes me gag. My life, a blur of hospital stays and sick? I just couldn’t see it. Even though Ima assured me that she wouldn’t require too many hospital visits. Just once a week, she promised me.

I rolled my eyes cynically. Just once a week. Just.

This wasn’t meant to happen.

I have plans. Eleventh grade is supposed to be the dream year. Production year. And I am not going to let life disrupt it, no sirree. Yet that’s what its every intention seemed like.

The monsters are here again. And they’re still not letting go. Why, oh why, did I come to school today?

The door slowly creaks open. I don’t even look up. I’m not exactly interested to see who has come to join me. Not now.

“Dafna, I heard,” a soft voice says slowly. I glance up coldly. Ayelet. What was she doing here? And how had she heard?

“Our little family finds out fast.” She laughs.

It’s not funny. “Which family?” I ask belatedly.

“Our cancer family.”

(Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 786)

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