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Taylor's Time


Hey there, it's Kendra again!

If you're here, brace yourselves. Taylor's come up with another weeper that's gonna yank hard on those feelings.

Don't say I didn't warn ya!

And if you're not getting my NL, you'd better sign up! I send another one tomorrow.


-- Kendra

Trigger Warning: Terminal Illness, Cancer, Physical Suffering, Death

Content Warning: Depiction of Terminal Illness, Emotional Distress, Medical Procedures, Family Conflict, Loss, Existential Reflections


When Our Souls Collide 

Chapter Two:  Moments

 

I smelled the cancer long before the doctors discovered it; a rotting metallic scent that clung to Grace's breath. I smelled it now, lying beside her in the grey morning light. The bathroom tiles were cold, the room small and uncomfortable to sleep in. Grace lay curled on her bath mat, clutching her churning stomach. I lay beside her, as I'd done for most of the night. I turned my head and licked the sweat from her bald scalp. She was feverish again. I whimpered. 


Grace reached out and rubbed my ear. 


"Attey," she said, weakly. "Go get mom."


I stood and rushed out of the bathroom and down the stairs, my claws slipping a bit on the wood, and found Carolyn sitting across Jeffery at the kitchen table  


"We can't just let her die," she told Jeffery. 


Jeffery blew out his breath. He wrapped his hands around a steaming mug.


“Our daughter is dying, hon. She doesn't want to be put on a waitlist and she doesn't want any more surgery or Chemo. We have to resp-" 


I barked. They jumped and looked at me. 


"Hush, Atlas!" Jeffery whispered sternly. 


I whimpered and spun in tight, frantic circles. 


"What is it, girl?" Carolyn asked, straightening up. 


Barking, I rushed to the foot of the stairs. Slowly, Carolyn's face filled with fear and concern. 


"Grace!" 


Grace was still on the floor when Carolyn and I rushed in. Carolyn crouched, reaching down to stroke her daughter's head. 


“Grace, baby, what happened?”


Grace swallowed and winced. In a voice laced with sorrow and emptiness, she replied,  

“I threw up.”


Carolyn looked towards the bed and saw the red stain on the carpet. Grace stared at the side of the bathtub, at the pure white marble, her eyes lost in a dream. 


“Oh, sweetheart.” She sighed. “I'll get it cleaned up after I put you back in bed. Come on.” 


She started to lift Grace, but Grace resisted. 


“Take me outside.” 


“Grace,” Carolyn replied, rather sharply. “You'll catch your death outside. It's too cold. You need to stay in bed.” 


Grace swallowed again, harder this time. Her words were slippery and wet with bile. “Please, mom.” 


Carolyn sighed. She didn’t want to risk Grace’s health, but this was such a simple request, and it would make her dying daughter happy. A few moments later, she had Grace dressed as warmly as she could manage.


The snow was lighter now, barely falling, though the yard was full. Grace was bundled in a scarf and mittens, her bathrobe, coat, and bandana, all as soft and white as the snow that gathered beneath us. I inhaled a freezing breath of air, crisp and clean, then lay my head on her lap with a heavy sigh. Gentle fingers touched my fur. I groaned with pleasure, my skin contracting.    


Grace's foot pushed gently against the snowcaked grass, moving the redwood swing back and forth so slowly that I was nearly lulled back into deep sleep. The sun's rays danced across her face so it seemed she was merely an angel who came down to earth for a visit, an angel too good and innocent and pure to stay for any longer. 


“Isn't it beautiful, Attey?” Grace asked after a long silence. 


She inhaled deeply, just as I had, and blew out a puff of clouds. Then, she looked up at the sky, letting a delicate flake fall onto her flushed cheek. It took several seconds to melt and slide down her cheek like a tear. 


“What if… What if snowflakes are the souls of children who've passed?” 


I pricked my ears, and lifted my head, listening attentively. 


“And every time a child goes to Heaven, their little souls fall back down to us in the form of something beautiful. Perhaps it's to remind us that, even though they're gone, they're still here. And that they're safe and free of pain.” 


She held her hand out, letting two snowflakes fall into the palm of her mitten. “I bet these two were brother and sister.”


She closed her fingers, as if keeping the souls close. 


“I'll be up there soon, Attey. Soon, my soul will be just another flake in the sky, or maybe a butterfly or even a rainbow. Isn't that a nice thought, Attey?”


I titled my head, licking her face. She smiled, giggling. 


“You're right, Attey. That doesn't matter now.” She looked out into the yard, at the wintergreens and bird bath, at the reflection of the sun against the snow and windows of the house. “These are the moments that matter.” She hugged my head and whispered in my ear. “Each day is a gift. That's why it's called the present.” 


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