Expiration Date (The List)
Expiration Date (The List)
“Mom, I don’t want to be home-schooled anymore!” She whined.
“Fine, but Im just afraid that
get to school and find out that it does'nt live up to your expectations.” Her Mother replied sullenly.
“Oh, thank you Mom. thank you so much.” she embraced her mother tightly. “I think I would die if I had to stay in this house one more day.”
“Just don't get hopes up Lucie.”
That was the beginning, that was the first mistake that Lucie Ramirez made. Because of course, her mother was right. When she first started out at school, Lucie was 13, In eighth grade. she didn't know anyone, and no one wanted to know her. she was completely inexperienced when it came to making friends, so her days were spent crying, alone, in a bathroom stall.
It only got worse halfway through the year when a new girl moved to her town. Her name was Brandi, and she was perfect. She had long, wavy, blonde hair and sparkly blue eyes, and she was tall and slender like the models Lucie had seen in magazines. So, yes, Brandi was perfect, But she was also perfectly torturous and cruel, especially to Lucie.
Eventually, Lucie just gave up and stopped talking all together. It was an effective way to keep Brandi, and everyone else for that matter, away. But she was starting to fade into the background...
According to herself, she was a pitiful human being who led a meaningless life. She just figured that her whole life would be that way. But then, there was a phone call, and it changed everything.
“The tests confirm that your daughter has a rare cancer, one that grows along the spinal cord. We can probably operate, but it will leave her paralyzed.” Lucie could hear the doctors mumbling through the thick glass window.
The hospital had called the previous day to tell them that the doctors had gotten the test results back. They had decided that something was wrong with Lucie so they had put her through a series of tests. She had just turned sixteen and although she wouldn't admit it, the possibilities scared her...
“What if you don't operate? I mean, isn't there another option?” It was hard to make out what her mother was saying.
The doctor let out a sigh and said “Mrs. Ramirez, May I call you stephenie? Her father died from cancer isn't that right? And this type of cancer is hereditary. So we should have known earlier, then maybe there would have been more options, But Im afraid its too late. If we don't operate she could have as little as one year.”
Her throaght tightened,and she could barely breathe. One year? She thought,Thats just so short. But I guess its better than being a vegetable for the rest of my life though.
On the car ride home, Lucie and her mother discussed briefly what to do.
“Mom, you cant be serious. You'd rather make the rest of my life miserable than just enjoy the time I have left?” said LUcie
“No. I don't want you to be miserable. But I don't want me to be miserable either.” Her mother stopped briefly to contemplate then, with a sigh, she said, “You know, Me and your father had the exact same conversation when we found out. You were just a baby then. I guess, maybe your right. If makes you happy, Im happy too.”
Lucie could see that it was hard for her mother to go along with it, but she just couldn’t live knowing that she could never really live.
Later sitting in her bed surrounded by teddy bears and fluffy pillows, she contemplated what to do with her life. with one hand she was running hr fingers through her long straight brown hair, with the other she was clicking the end of her favorite red pen. But the clicking was starting to remind her of a clock, precious time ticking away, so she stopped.
She saw a blank, crinkled piece of paper lying on the floor beside her bed. She bent over to pick it up and she got an idea. she would make a list of things to do before she died. After much deliberation, the list finally consisted of:
buy a pair of seven inch heels.
2.Get my drivers license.
3.Get a boyfriend.
4.Do something to impress everyone.
5.Leave something for the world to remember me by.
Not too ambitious, she thought, But a lot more than i would normally do.
Her mother was being absurdly generous. When Lucie asked for shopping money, she was very pleased to receive $700 from her.
Lucie walked elatedly to the bus stop, smiling to herself every now and then. When the bus came she got on and sat down next to the window. Then a strange feeling came over her, as if some one was watching her. Her mood quickly changed from delighted to uneasy. The tension in the air was almost tangible and she could feel deaths cold hand on her shoulder.
Slowly, her head turned only to find that some one really was staring at her. A boy, probably about her age, was sitting across the aisle with a confused look on his face like he was trying to remember something.
“Um, can I help you?” Lucie asked the boy.
“Oh, Sorry, you just look so familiar.” He replied awkwardly.
For a moment they both looked away, But then the moment of silence was interrupted.
“I got it!” Said the boy, “I know were i know you from, You're Lucie Ramirez, Im Nathan, I think were in the same math class.”
Now she was really confused. Is he really in my class? I think I would have remembered him. She thought to herself. Because he was actually quite good looking.
“Im sorry, I just moved here. Just trying to be friendly, I mean< if you don't want to talk to me I understand...” He said.
“Um no, thats not it at all, I was just thinking. Its nice to meet you Nathan.” she replied.
Their conversation was followed by an awkward hand shake. Then they spent the rest of the bus ride talking and it didn't take Lucie long to decide that she was in love with him. She got off at her stop and waved goodbye to Nathan then went off in pursuit of seven inch heels.
She learned the hard way that day how easy it is to spend six hundred dollars in less than two hours. She was on her way to the shoe store, but everything else was just so tempting. she ended up with the shoes she had wanted plus a two hundred dollar jacket, designer sunglasses, and sore arms from carrying around the eight shopping bags it took to carry all the other things that she bought.
She wore her new shoes to school the next day. she was taller than a lot of the boys in her classes, but ti was worth it. They were the sexiest shoes in the world, They were bright fire engine red pumps with a black heel and real diamonds along the outside edge. It was attention that she was looking for, and thats exactly what she got.
She walked into her third period math class too find everyone staring at her feet.
“Whoa,” Said a girl who had just walked in the door, “Those shoes! How much did those cost?”
“I...” Lucie started but was interrupted.
“No. Don't tell me I bet its way more than Im willing to pay anyway. If I knew I couldn't fantasize. ” She said.
The girl then sat down at a seat right next Lucie's and started to ask her about homework. Wow thought Lucie Is that really all to takes to make people like you?
As Lucie and her new friend (whos name she found out was Ashleigh) were talking, the room seemed to get brighter. She looked at the door to find the source of it, and saw a tall, blonde, boy in schique clothes with perfectly styled hair, walk in and sit her next to her.
“Nathan?” She asked, “You look so different.”
“Yea Im trying out a new look. I see you are too.” He said gesturing towards her feet.
Lucie laughed a little and said, “I told you I was shoe shopping that day.”
The whole time they were talking, she couldn't help but think that this whole situation reminded her of Grease. She was sandy, and he was danny. They met, not knowing who each other really were, only to find that gasp! they were i the same class and completely different people than they had seemed. Only in this version, it kind of skipped to the end and she had already said goodbye to Sandra D.
Later that week, as Lucie was walking in the door of her bedroom, she stepped on a looses floorboard which reminded her of the list. IT only reminded her because there was another loose floorboard under which she kept the list.
She very quietly closed the door and tiptoed across the room to her bedside. she carefully lifted up the floor board (She didn't want anyone else to know about it so she hid it there.) not making a sound, and she grabbed the list and slammed the floor shut, so much for being quiet.
But she had felt a sudden need to be safe in her bed, as though death were creeping down the hallway toward her room. when the strange feeling subsided, she uncapped her favorite red pen and crossed buy a pair of seven inch heels. off the list. one down, four to go
The pen made an awful scratching sound as the driving coach scribbled notes on his clip board. He was a middle aged man, slightly overweight, and rather cynical. It made sense though, his job kinda sucked.
The driving instructor looked up from his papers and shot an exasperated grimace at LUcie. they had been there almost all day, taking and retaking the drivers test over and over again. This is so stupid She thought to herself I aced the written exam first try, isn't that good enough?
It was the most frustrating day of her life, and from the exhausted expression on the instructors face, it probably was for him to. HE let out a sigh that said cant we just not and say we did? that gave Lucie an idea...
She let go of her vice-like grip on the steering wheel and reached one white knuckled hand into her jeans pocket. She let out a sigh of relief as her fingers touched the crinkled up one hundred dollar bill left over from her seven inch heel quest.
“Um look,” Lucie started, “ I can see that neither of us is enjoying this, so lets just get it over with. The easy way.”
“Im not sure what you mean, You'll just have to come back another day and have... another... instructor give you the test.” Said the man in reply.
“OK, I've got a hundred dollar bill,” She began, “Right here, its easy money. all you have to do is say that I passed and its all yours.” Said Lucie wich a persuasive smile.
“Oh no, you know I cant do that uuhhh,” He paused to find her name on the papers he held in his lap on a clip board. “stephenie, It s illegal, I could get fired.”
“Im Lucie, Stephanie is my mom. Come on, its not like you actually like your job anyway! think of your children, I bet you wouldnt make this much today if it werent fofr me.” Llucie was in full tantrum mode.
The instructor looked around as if som one might come save him from the situation. He tensed up, and then re;axed. he let out a defeeted sigh to indicate that LUcoe had won this one.
“Fine. Just,” He paused to scribble some notes on a piece of paper, “give this to the people in charge and theyll give you youre license.” he stopped and LUcie a deliberately intimidating glare and said, “This never happened. No one finds out about this okay?”
Lucie shyed back into her seat, suddenly this man didnt look so harmless. He looked like he would beat her up if ever did tell anyone. She silently agreed by nodding her head and left the car to go get her license.
As she walked through the parking lot, she felt as if the mans glaring gaze still bore into her back. and she got the uneasy feeling again. like the grim reaper would come and ruin evrything by taking her early.
She tried to shake the feeling by telling herself that it was just her mind playing tricks becaus eof her knowledge of the deadline. But it was starting to happen more often and maybe, it wasnt just her mind.
The feeling didnt completely go away until she was safe inside presenting her papers for a license. she couldnt believe the sense of a ccomplishement she got when she fisrt held the shiny plastic rectangle in her hand, even if technically, she didnt really deserve it.
About two weeks later, Lucie was pulling into the school parking lot in her moms jeep when she saw NAthan stnding there, talking to Brandi. It was something that she never would have expected to see, one of her worst nightmares being played out in real life.
Nathan then waved goodbye to Brandi and started walking toward Lucie.
“Oh hey Lucie, I didnt see you there.” he said as his cheeks flushed from embarrassement.
Lucie had told him about her history with the blonde devil, but he still went and started talking to her?
“Uh, what were you doing with Brandi?” asked Lucie
“Oh, we were just talking.” He paused nervously, “Actually, I was asking her for advice.”
“Advice? What advice could she give you? Just between us, she’s not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.”
Nathan put a had on his forehead and sighed. “Youre not making this easy you know?” He paused again. “I was asking her about you.”
“Me?” Lucie was shocked.
“Yea. I was asking her, you know. how to ask you out.”
Lucies eyes opened wide and her jaw dropped. she immidieatley felt guilty for being mad at Nathan.
“So, is this, I mean, are you...” she trailed off.
“Yea Im kinda trying to ask you to be my girlfriend.”
“Well thats a no-brainer, sorry, did I say that out loud? I meant yes. I would love to be your e girlfriend.” She replied awkwardly.
They exchanged nervous smiles. It hadt gone nearly as smoothly as Nathan had hoped, and it was nothing like what Lucie had imagined it would be like. But it was an enormous weight lifted from both of their shoulders because the anticipation had been almost too much to bear. But all good things must come to an end, even relationships.
That saturday night Lucie called Ashleigh and told her everyhting.
“Aaaaaaah!!! Thats so exiting!” Ashleigh screamed through the phone.
“I know right, I was about to...” she was cut off by Ashleigh.
“We have to celebrate! You should come over and you can tell me all about it.”
“Okay, but i just did tell you...” Ashleigh cut her off again.
“Oh, Im so exited this is going to be so much fun. Well Ill see you in... fifteen minutes?” She didnt wait for Lucies re[ly, “Wonderful! See you then.”
Luice hung up the phone and laughed a little to herself. This was so typica; Ashleigh. She was probably more exited about ti than LUcie was. She couldnt imagine what would happen if Ashleigh ever had something exiting happen to herself, The results of wich could be catastrophic.
She hurried to pack a bag and then flew down the stairs into the kitchen and kissed her mom goodbye. meanwhile, Ashleigh was at her house talking the ears off everyone she knew, telling them the news. She had decided that her and LUcie were best friends and took it upon herself to let evryone know evrything about her.
Ding Dong Ashleigh jumped up to get the door. Luice was waiting outside shivering, when she got it again, that strange feeling like the reason she was shivering was because death was htere, surrounding her in his icy presence.
She let out a scream as Ashleigh opened the door and jumped on her in an enormous bear hug. Ashleigh had a huge smile on her face that said she would use anyhting as an exuse for having a good time.
“I cant believe it, you finally got a boyfriend! You know what we should do? we should have a party! My parents are gone for the weekend anyway and I already called some people. But, I gave you credit of course, as far as anyone else knows, youre throwing it...”
LUcie tuned out Ashleighs rambling as she remembered something, The list, she hadnt crossed off get a boyfriend on her list. She really felt like she needed to, but decided that one night couldnt hurt, besides, maybe “her” party would impress everyone, then thats two things to cross off.
As Lucie soon learned, she had befriended the party animal. not a party animal, THE party animal. Ashleigh really knew how to throw a party, but as far as the guests were concerend, it was Lucie who really knew how to throw a party.
They danced till aboout 3 AM to Ashleighs state-of-the-art sound system. Lucie had never seen speakers that big in some ones house before.
there must have been at least three hundred people packed into that house, but it was a pretty big house. Luice wondered what Ashleighs parents did for a living to be able to afford it all, it looked like somwhere a wealthy rap artist would live.
When the party started winding, down and everyone was gone, Ashleigh and Lucie went up stairs. they had planned to do manicures, pedicures, facials, all the typical sleepover stuff. But wehen they got to Ashleighs bedroom, they immidiately passed out, Ashleigh on a couch, and LUcie on the bed.
Sunday morning, Ashleighs parents pulled into the driveway and started carrying their bags inside.
“Its good to be home.” Said her mother.
“I wonder how Ashleighs doing, she told me that she had some friends over last night.” She would be surprized when she opened the door.
The two of them stepped into the front room amd their jaws, simaeltaneously, dropped in horror.
“Ashleigh Thelma Thomas!” yelled er father.
Upstairs, Lucie woke to the sounds of Angry shouts coming from downstairs. she looked at the clock by the bedside. 2 PM. She jumped up and started shaking Ashleigh.
“Ash! Ashleigh you gotta wake up, youre parents are home!”
She rolled over in her pillow nad groaned, “What time is it? there not supposed to be home till...”
Her eyes widened as she looked at the clock.
“You need to get out here.” she said with a gasp, “Climb out the window, Ill deal with my parents.”
before another word could be said, they heard heavy footsteps coming up the stairs. Lucie quickly pryed open the window and climbed out into the side yard.
Her heart was pounding all the way home. She didnt relax until her bedroom door was safely shut behind her. then she walked across the room and picked up the loose floorboard as her heart rate began to slow.
She made two red strike marks with her pen and only had one more thing on the list. she only prayed that nothing would happen to distract ehr from it, because it had already been six months, her year was half over already.
Lucie woke up shivering the next monday morning. She got up to close her window only to find that four feet of snow covered the ground.
It was the first snow of the year, and it was long over due. It came on the night of December 15, and it was huge!
Lucie was late fro school because because she had to dig through her closet to find boots and a jacket.
She walked into the building and dusted snow off of herself. She stamped her feet to get the snow off of her shoes and took off her hat to shake it from her hair.
As she walked down the halls, almost everyone commented on saturday nihgts party and at least ten times the amount of people as normal actually talked to her.
She went to classes as normal but the day felt strange, it was as if the seasons had changed along with peoples opinions about her overnight.
That was the frist of many days like that, Lucie had renewed confidence that when the end came, her life would have been significant to lots of people. but just as there was a first day like that, there was a last one too.
everyone was complaining about having to go back to school after christmas break. They were all groggy and tired. Lucie hadn’t talked t Nathan since before the break, and was surprized to find that he wasnt in class that day.
He probably just didnt come cause eh was too tired. Lucie told herself. But she couldnt help thinking that something was wrong.
On her way home, Lucie passed some ambulences and police cars swarming around what looked like an accident, probably just a car that skidded on the ice. Thought Lucie. but as she got closer she recognized the car, It was Nathans.
Lucie sat in silence listening to the beeping of the Nathans heart monitor. It was about a week after the accident and He still had’nt waken up.
“You know,” Lucie said even though he couldn’t hear her, “I always thought you’d be visiting me in the hosptial. But I guess the universe just has a way of taking everything that you think wil hapen and turning it completely upside down.”
Then she saw him eyelid twich, and she rushed to his bedside.
“Nathan? Please wake up.”
He slowly rolled over and opened his eyes. Lucie was so relieved.
“Why would I be visiting you in the hospital?” He asked as though he had been listening the whole tme.
“Um,” this really wasnt the time. She didnt want him to find out like this.
“LIsten, I havent been completely honest with you, or anyone else for that matter...”
she spent about thirty minutes explaining it all to him about her deadline and the list and the whole time she was fighting back tears, so was Nathan. Lucie had never really expressed her feelings about ti when it came to her Cancer. She had always just accepted it as the way things just were.
It took her almost losing somone she loved to realize how much her death would hurt the ones who loved her. She thought to herself, How could I be that selfish? If im gonna die anyway I could just as easily take the risk of surgery.
She couldnt sleep that night. Usually she slept soundly so she didn know what went on at night. As she lay awake in silence she heard something that she never had before. She quietly crept dwon the hall and pressed her ear up against the door to her mothers bedroom.
From inside, came teh sounds of somone crying quietly. She opened the door a crack and peered inside. her mother was laying bed with her back towards the door, and didnt seen to notice Lucie.
She took a tentative step into the room. Still, her mother did not move, so she took another step, and another until she was at the bedside. Slowly, she leaned over her mother.
“Mom? Please dont cry.” She said.
There was no reaction. Lucie leaned over farther only to find that she was asleep. Shes like a little kid, crying in her sleep. Lucie thought. Then she very carefully tiptoed out of the room trying hard not wake her up.
When she finally gto back to her bed, she could’nt sleep again. Now she felt guilty. A few hours later, When she was nodding off, her last thought was the concious decision to get the surgery.
The next morning at breakfast, Lucie and her mohter didnt talk much. They spent most of the time studying their bowls of cereals or trying in vain to strike up a conversation about the weather.
“Ok Lucie,” said her mother looking at her watch, “You better get going if you dont want to miss the bus.”
Her Mother went to the sink and startes the water running. Just as Lucie was getting up to leave, she remembred the events of the previous night.
“Oh mom, I just remembered.” She started, “Theres something I want to talk to you about.”
“OK,” She sat down again with a concerned look on her face. “You know you tell me anything.” she said as she held Lucies hand.
“Its no big deal, nothings wrong Its just that...”
The bus came and went leaving Lucie and her mother talking in the kitchen. their conversation concluded with a long embrace and a drive to the hospital to schedule the surgery.
Lucei sat in the waiting room while her mother went in to talk with the doctor, Whos name Lucie couldnt remember Dr. Thomas maybe? or Tomlison? Something like that.
The waiting room was near the front of the hospital. It had polished tile floors and a big round desk at one end were the nurses would occasionally sit at computers filing through records and things. It smelled like rubber gloves and cherry cough medicine and the only sounds came from nurses feet shuffling across the tile as they rushed by.
Evryone there seemed uptight and stressed out. Noone spoke, except in hushed tones to their companions. Lucie was also uneasy.
At the far wall, there was a glass door wich led into the recovery section of the hospital. through it, She could see people walking through the halls. She cringed at the thought that someday, very soon,that might be her.
Wit nothing else to do, Lucie preoccupied herself by counting spots on the ceiling or making up fake scenarios about why the other people were there.
She gave up and looked through the glass doors again. this time though, she saw something more interesting. He was almost unrecognizeable, but she could tell, it was Nathan.
It didnt take long until he noticed her staring at him and he gave her a confused look like What are you doing here?
Lucie waited till there were no nurses in the room, then she jumped up and almot ran into the recovery hall.
“Nathan I missed you so much!” she said exitedly.
“Why are you here?” He asked.
“I...” Lucie opened her mouth to speak, but stopped because she remembered that Nathan didnt know, about her disease, about her deadline, about how he gaveher a revation and the will to live.
“Nathan, we need to talk. theres a lot I didnt tell you.”
Lucie explained it all to him as they walked through the halls of the hospital. when tehy got back to the waiing room, Lucies mother was still in talking to the doctor.
“I better go, my mom will be done soon. Thank you for understanding.”
Nathan nodded solelmly in reply and then went back to his room. Hes probably just in shock, I guess thats kind of a lot to take in for one day. She thought, trying to reassure herself. Before she went back out into the waiting room, she turned to look at Nathan one more time, they exchanged silent I-love-yous and turned and went their seperate ways.
just then her mother came out into the waiting room, It was obvious how nervous she was. Together, they gogt in the jeep and drove home. Lucies surgery was one week from that day. There were so many things she still had to fix, so many she hadnt told. the only solution, She thought, is to make another list. So thats what she did. the very second she got home she ran up to her room to add the new aditions to the list. Wehn she was done it looked like this;
buy a pair of seven inch heels.
2.Get my drivers license.
3.Get a boyfriend.
4.Do something to impress everyone.
5.Leave something for the world to remember me by.
7.Make up with Brandi
Over that next week, she maade things right. It took some work, but she did it. Of course Ashleigh understood immidietly and asked if she could be there. She said she wanteed to be the first one there when she got out of surgery. It was Brandi that took more work. but Lucie was relentless and, eventually, She came around.
The day of the surgery had finally come and Lucie was back at the hospital again.
“Lucie Ramirez? Dr. Early will see you now.” So that was doctors name, she hadnt even been close.
She took a deep breath and she, accompanied by Ashleigh, Nathan, And her mother, got up and followed the nurse through a set of glass doors. As they walked Lucie read the nurses name tag, Natalee, it said.
About thirty minutes later, Lucie was laying on the gurny, about to be out under. She said a little prayer in her head, so did just about everyone ejse in the room. the tention in the room was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
“Ok, were going to put her under now, you three will have to leave.”
They nodded, and let go of Lucies hands.
“I love you.” She said to them, and then the doctor stuck her with an I.V.
Lucie started yawning, and before long, She fell fast asleep. Ashleigh, Nathan and her mother all kept their eyes glued to her, silently hoping, that she would wake up again.
Copyright © 2010 Molly McIntosh