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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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The flowers spread a mat of color across fields and create crowns of bloom atop the dogwoods and red buds. I can see the end and now this spring is brighter and full of joy and beauty.

The sweat runs down my face blinding me to what was in front of me. I look back not seeing anything solid but I know it was there, it always was. My lungs ache and burn from the effort. I run as fast as I can but I feel my feet turn to lead weighing me down. The unknown pursuer draws closer and yet still I cannot see anything that seems real. The ground drops away as I drop flaying arms and legs. There is no relief from the pursuer. The bottom was still far below me.

Worlds switched, my dream, my nightmare fades into my bedroom. The nightmare lets go of me and my falling ends in a pool of sweat, shaking. My bed is soaked, a result of a fear which is so deep it stays well after consciousness. I feel weak from my sleep, there was no restfulness from my unconscious state. I am safe from falling in a dark bedroom that is shrouded in a gray dawn breaking. I move to wash away the salty moisture and clear my head. It is spring 1991. I dress to face a day at work. I am consistently tired but I need to go to work and start a routine I have not been able to engage in for so long. Spring flowers are bright with color and abundance. The joy that should lift my spirits and bring a light step to my movement is not apparent. Everything is muted with a sense of being in the wrong place and time.

The day crawls slowly forward, drags along with reengagement with coworkers. It is tiring but there is a relief being back on the road to rebuilding my life. It helps to gain my confidence again by testing my strength. My body is not under my control requiring me to monitor it and reacting quickly. I check in on all the projects in progress before the beginning of my separation. The work seemed to have moved forward as if I was not needed to contribute during my absence.

I cannot drive yet, I most likely could not concentrate on reacting the multiple decisions needed to drive safely. My wife picks me up early. I am tired and unsettled. The thirty-minute drive requires multiple stops as my body requires me to do so. The number of work days I thought I could handle seem to be unattainable. The future is a sequence of seconds, minutes, hours and finally a day. The time horizon is never very far away. This will be my number one job for many days, one at a time.

The spring rain is cold and I shiver. The night comes again, so do the nightmares. Each is slightly different except for the fear of being pursued. The initial release back into the outside world left me with a feeling of being a misfit in my life. I remember my recovery room, the day I was wheeled to the entrance to wait for my wife. It seemed I was an escaped convict with freedom I had not earned. I get in the car. I had a strong feeling of wanting the protection of the recovery room walls I had called home for weeks.

I have put it off as long as I can, I schedule the oncology doctor. The meeting laid out the process. The only thing not highlighted were the side effects. One year, twelve months. At that time, it seemed like a multi-year sentence. After the initial treatment, I knew this was going to be a constant feeling of queasiness, bad taste and achy cold during treatment. The puncture once a week to draw blood and infuse the chemical blend. There were the pills prior to the treatment. They were to help the chemical blend work better. The pills were being used for cattle for some disease or other.

The nightmares faded away after a while. The feeling of being unsettled in my body remained. A year of taking the chemical blend and pills went exceedingly slow. Spring breaks out as I approach the end of treatments. The flowers spread a mat of color across fields and create crowns of bloom atop the dogwoods and red buds. I can see the end and now this spring is brighter and full of joy and beauty.

The end seems hard to wait for. Summer eases in and the end of treatment is over. The freedom of being healed is not given to me. There is no cure or guarantee. The realization sinks in that I still have cancer, the cure is a false goal.

The goal now is to continue living without a new outbreak. The end is as it was before, somewhere in the future.

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Stan Washington
Stan Washington, Contributing Writer
Stan Washington is a contributing writer for Cape Fear Voices.

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