Maybe I’m just a jerk for not talking more about Phoenix after she died. But, really, there isn’t anything else to talk about. Why drag it out? There isn’t anything else that needs to be said, even though I feel guilty for some reason.
And I didn’t have much time to mourn either. I went into a sort of depression after she died because of not being able to visit her and all. I didn’t leave the room and refused to watch “Lucy” DVDs. But I knew I would eventually have to return to myself. It didn’t feel right—being sad for her. She’d want me to be happy, right?
And it didn’t last long. Only two days after she died, one of the regular nurses, Susan, finally told me out-right that I needed to get off my tail-bone and do something.
“And if I were you,” she’d said, “I’d stop feeling sorry for myself and start spreading a little joy with the talent that I have.”
She only smiled. “Try starting with the boy in the room beside you.”
So she introduced me and this boy. And it turned out so much different than I’d imagined it would.
“I’m Jove,” I said, not sure whether I should hold my hand out to shake or not.
The boy stared at me with hard, cold eyes; gray eyes that could have only been meant for an old man. He couldn’t have been older than fifteen or sixteen. But he had lost both legs from the knee down.
Susan only smiled and nodded. “I’ll be back in a little while to check on you two.” Then she left.
I wanted to call after her, “Wait! Don’t leave me with this iron-faced kid!” But I bit my tongue and forced a smile.
We sat in an awkward silence for the longest time, until he said, “You aren’t going away, are you?”
I shook my head. “Might as well start with your name.”
He rolled his eyes. “Call me Iggy,” he huffed as he forced his clunky wheelchair around to face the window. I assumed it was my cue to leave. But I wasn’t about to be turned away. Not after I’d actually come out of my room to talk to him.
“Cool name,” I said.
“Not really. What else can you get from ‘Indigo’?”
“That’s really your name?” I stayed put where I was, in my own wheelchair about halfway in the room but not quite welcomed in yet. “That’s even cooler!”
That was basically the content of our first meeting together.
But I went back.
“I have leukemia.” It was the first thing I said the moment I got through the door the next morning. He only grunted in reply. This time he was in bed, seemingly enthralled in an old western movie.
“My best friend died three days ago.”
“She lived here. Her name was Phoenix Sky Ryder.”
“She made caps. Loved them too. Gave them to everyone she could find.”
“I have a lot. Want one?”
At first, nothing. Then he shook his head. “Already got one.”
“And the rock speaks,” I muttered.
He chucked a pillow at me. “Why don’t you leave if I don’t talk to you?”
“Because you need someone besides the voices in your head.”
Another pillow was whipped ninja-star-style at my face. I caught it.
“You know,” I said, “The fountain outside is a good place to get into trouble.”
“Not interested,” he said, eyes back on the T.V.
“I’m not leaving this room.”
I could see that he wasn’t budging in his decision. So I sighed. “Fine.”
But the next day, I was ready for him. And I had a plan.